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Written by: Dominique DeVilbiss, MSW, LSW, CSWI

Let’s talk about imperfection. Many of us have a very rational fear of failure; however, sometimes our definition of “failure” is distorted and often boils down to a core belief: failure = not doing it perfectly. We all make mistakes. I like to call mistakes “opportunities for growth” *eye roll*. I know, it’s hard to see it this way, but when we focus so much on our mistakes, we miss the chance to appreciate our victories. The interesting thing is, we can set ourselves up for the shame of “failing” because we can’t possibly live up to the standard of perfection; it doesn’t exist. When we choose to set the bar to unreachable heights, we will inevitably miss it, and get to create our own evidence that we are not deserving of a life worth living.

There is another option. We can choose an alternative way to look at our imperfections. We can choose to see them as gifts. I know, this sounds impossible and, honestly, very scary. The truth is, when we accept our imperfections, we find the freedom to let go of who we think we are supposed to be and begin to embrace who we actually are. Most importantly, we allow ourselves to be seen. To be seen in a light that is our own and is beautifully imperfect. When we give up the energy to perform “perfectly” in every different situation, we can use that freed-up energy to express ourselves authentically and engage in this world in a way that feels right for us. Brené Brown, Ph.D., LMSW describes this process as “wholehearted living”. What does it mean to live with your whole heart?

This looks like a life that most of us yearn and search for. It looks like balance. We can find balance by understanding. Understanding that, yes, vulnerability opens us up to getting hurt, and we have to be vulnerable if we want to foster meaningful relationships. Understanding that we cannot selectively numb our emotions; we have to learn how to sit with anxiety, sadness, grief, and frustration if we want to be able to fully feel joy, love, compassion, and contentment. Then, we begin learning.

Learning that there is no big secret to love and belongingness; the people that have it simply believe that they are deserving and worthy of it. Learning that relationships are not something that is earned or conditional; they are a process of growth and need to be carefully tended to, which means accepting other people’s boundaries and feeling confident in setting our own. We can start cultivating. Cultivating mindfulness and letting go of anxiety as a lifestyle. Cultivating our passions and letting go of “should” and “supposed to”.

Finally, we can find acceptance. Accepting that we are already enough, exactly as we are today. Accepting that things are really hard sometimes and it truly is okay to not be okay. When we practice whole-hearting living, we give ourselves the freedom to just be. Whatever that means. Whatever you need that to mean, moment to moment. We give ourselves the courage to embrace our stories, and the power to rewrite them.

This all sounds great, but I’m sure you’re asking yourself, “how do I start?”. Our team at Healing Minds is comprised of a caring group of therapists who all have their own stories and challenges. Many of us are skills trained or are working on becoming skills trained in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). This specific type of structured therapy is centered around what most of us are looking for—balance. The premise of DBT is balancing two things that seem very polarizing. These two very important concepts are acceptance and change.

Carl Rogers once said, “Once I accept myself exactly as I am, then I can change”. Our therapists at Healing Minds can help you learn how to balance acceptance and change, which leads to our ultimate goal: helping our clients find a life worth living. If you or someone you know is struggling, please give us a call at (775) 448-9760 to schedule an appointment with one of our therapists. Everyone deserves to have the space to be who they are without judgment and to discover how to live whole-heartedly. What an amazing gift you can give to yourself—to live with your whole heart. To me, that beats being “perfect” any day.