Thursday, June 27, 2013

Flawed but Fabulous

I attended a class at church recently that was taught by one of the young women in my husband's flock of 18-to-30-year-olds. Her focus was self-improvement.

She opened her lesson by passing out index cards and asking us to jot down a few thoughts on how to make ourselves better people. As the writing began, I was struck by the powerful emotions playing across the faces of my classmates. Sober, strained, pained, restrained...not one smile or even a neutral expression among them. This exercise was not a pleasant one for these young women, and I feared they were being too hard on themselves. I wanted to stand up and speak my mind, but I wasn't the teacher and it wasn't my place. This IS my place, though, so I've saved the unrequested pep talk all for you... ;)
:::apologizing in advance:::

Okay here is the gist of what I wanted to say. I'm a sucker for challenging projects, and improving my distinctly imperfect self qualifies. Don't get me wrong if I sound like my own worst critic; I'm more fan than flogger, and I rarely beat myself up. But I don't view myself through rose-colored glasses either. Knowing and accepting who I am allows me to look inward more comfortably––and more candidly––unafraid of finding faults among the flowers because I fully expect that outcome. I'm even okay with it! (Time is a great teacher.)

The thing is, we are far more than the sum of our faults. Every human being is flawed but fabulous, and owning that notion supports frank assessment while limiting discouragement. This even-handed paradigm is neither conceited nor contemptuous. It allows us to check in on ourselves honestly, without fear or self-protection.

Meeting and addressing our weaknesses can be seen as a great adventure, but we must turn inward with a friendly eye. Doing otherwise places us in defensive mode. We instinctively throw up barriers, muddying the waters to save ourselves from the evil (critical, castigating) eye we are using. Far better to look kindly upon our psyches, putting a sort of arm around ourselves as we dive bravely into that deep new sea of self-discovery.

Closing points I would have made to the girls:
  1. Murky waters are indiscriminate, hiding treasures as well as troubles. 
  2. Viewing our depths clearly––in all our glory and lack thereof––is a gift, even if it does rock the boat a little. 
  3. We are not and never will be black-and-white; everyone is teeming with colors. 
  4. Not one person is perfect, least of all you, me, or whomever we admire most. 
Accepting these realities opens the door to the most helpful self-improvement tool of all: becoming your own best friend, including every sharp angle and broken line. Don't be afraid to let down your defenses and look closely. Blow your own cover. Be gentle enough to trust you with yourself.  Hey, if you can't see it, you can't be it...or un-be it either. We have to face it to erase it. And we can't grow what we don't know.

(rose-colored glasses)
It's okay. You don't need 'em.

(safety glasses, etc.)

Better to use these instead.

"The curious paradox is that when I accept myself
just as I am, then I can change." - Carl Rogers

for more F posts, click below


Stacy said...

It's easy to forget all the awesome things we do. Usually we only think of the big things, but we neglect to remember all the simple acts of kindness, etc. I hope those beautiful young women know each drop of awesome gets then one step closer to being more like our Savior.

I love the youth

Grandma Honey said...

I think too yours is the knowledge of someone who has lived life. These young women don't really know who they are yet. They kind of think they know who they want to be, but they aren't even sure of that. While sometimes I think it would be great to be young again, I wouldn't want to trade in the confidence I have in myself now versus back then.

Annesphamily said...

Good thoughts for today's world and I am glad I stopped by. I hope your weekend is wonderful and I will come back and visit more. Time got away from me tonight. Hee Hee

lesa said...

I am just figuring this out as I edge towards 50.

Judie said...

Sue, if I ever needed a post like this it is today. I cannot tell you just how it moved me.

EG CameraGirl said...

Wonderful pep talk, Sue. Fabulous but flawed, eh? I'll try to remember that.:))

Brian Miller said... are wise...learning to love ourselves is not an easy thing for many...and it is much easier to see our faults than our realities...when i need a self adjustment i usually go to the first couple books of ephesians and read through just the adjectives that describe us...smiles.

Pam Beers. said...

This is beautifully written, Wise Woman Sue.

Many times we try to dissect ourselves only to realize we're like the rose, thorny at times, but beautiful.

Hugs. ~Pam

karen said...

I've often thought that it takes us so long to gain a little wisdom. The things I could have accomplished so much younger had I loved and appreciated my self a little more. That said, I'm trying to waste no time now, and I've even come to appreciate my quirks and idiosyncrasies. What you said, made me wonder: would you be so hard on a dear friend, or do you, instead, love them faults and all, supporting and encouraging them on their journey? We need to think of ourselves as dear friends.

kaykuala said...

Meeting and addressing our weaknesses can be seen as a great adventure, but we must turn inward with a friendly eye

Yes, not being too critical is only being fair to ourselves! The idea is to give enough space for corrections! Great thoughts Sue!


Unknown said...

You are so wise. I think pretending there aren't things to work on is way to easy sometimes.

Betty said...

It's so easy to overlook 50 good things and focus on one negative. A very well written post.

yaya said...

It's taken me 60yrs to finally accept who and what and how I am..and it ain't all bad! I hope those lovely girls are a quicker study than most of us are.

BECKY said...

Beautiful and important words, Sue! I believe that, unfortunately, it does take aging for many of us to be really comfortable with who we are; to love ourselves unconditionally; and be our own best friend. Hey, I always talk to myself because I'm the funniest and most interesting person I know! :D

jen said...

This is a spiral we dive into as LDS women. It's hard to walk the line between improvement and abasement.

Thanks for this.

Unknown said...

yes. love it. love me. love you.

Pondside said...

What you've written is so true. This would be a good thing for many a twenty-year-old or thirty-year-old to read.

Karen Sue said...

Teaching women is sometimes harder to get them to open up and talk than teenagers I have for youth.

LeAnn said...

This was such a wonderful post. I like the thought of becoming your own best friend. I do fear that the youth of today are way too hard on their selves. We live in such a rushed and every running society. We all need to take a breathe and learn to enjoy the moments of this life of ours. Of course, I need to take my own advice. I certainly loved your advice today; it was timely and timeless.
Blessings dear friend!

Jenny said...

This is a fabulous post for the letter "F"...

I spent years finding fault in everything I did... And after finally facing all of my fears and feelings of inadequacy I am able to treat myself as I would a friend...

Flawed but fabulous is right!

Thanks for linking.


Anonymous said...

I love that sign. I think that is the most accurate description of a happy life. Thank you for this inspirational post. I think it is some wonderful advice. I love the rose tinted glasses.

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