I have several ideas around perfection. One is that I must execute my every day life in a manner that is just right. I like things in order, in a certain way. Another is the pursuit of the bigger dreams of my idealized self and the way that I intended my life to unfold. This is especially true around having a hyper successful career, despite the stark reality that I don't have a profession. One old ambition is to create a company that would be a place of social and economic justice. I would pay people fair wages, provide access to health insurance, as well as adequate maternal and paternal leave, and even housing. All of us, employees and employer, would respect each other and communicate not as adversaries, but as team players on the same side with the same goals. Utopia!
Instead of running a company with thousands of employees, I am running a household comprised of two children, a husband, and a dog. Upon self-evaluation, my life sometimes looks like a series of failures. There are moments when I am left with the emptiness of feeling not enough and punish myself for not doing what I ought to be doing, for not chasing the dream. There are feelings of not being worthy or not deserving, and even of not being lovable. My own examination finds me lacking. Of course, nobody that matters in my life has actually said out loud that I am worthless if my home is not the embodiment of perfection or if I fail to be a hard-charging professional. I do know that the intrinsic value of me as a human being - the thoughtful sister, the devoted mother - is still there. Even so, we can still feel like we are stuck in arrested lives.
This is where self-forgiveness comes in. It heals and provides a balm for our self-inflicted wounds. The path to forgiveness is self-love and gratitude. I have found that when I offer myself loving kindness, in the way that I would to a friend in distress, I am able to accept myself as I am. Accepting your imperfect life is key to moving forward. Believing that you made the best decisions you could have made at various turning points in your life is important. After all, I did not know how I would feel 10 days, 10 months, or 10 years after I made a decision. I only discovered that afterwards. Give yourself a break and know that you did the best you could, because you simply did not know any better. Gratitude is another part of forgiveness. When I am in the moment where I accept that I made all those big decisions in good faith, I am able to clearly see the fine things in my life and give gratitude for them. In fact, I can even celebrate life as it is: my healthy family, my meaningful friendships, and so much more.
As a result, over the last 10 years I have learned to slowly loosen my grip on the relentless pursuit of perfection, duty, control, and achievement. Dare to be original and retrain yourself to process life as it is, rather than as you think it should be. Be present in the small every-day moments. When you are eating lunch, look at your food and taste it. Savor every bite. Sip your drink. Enjoy it. If you do feel that you need to change, know and believe that you have the resources to do so. This belief is the most important ingredient to successfully make changes in your life. Allow yourself to release the dream, while elements or newer versions of that dream continue to be possible. I can still be a catalyst for positive transformation in my immediate environment. Perhaps one day I shall run a utopian company. I am still doing my part, and so are you.
Mila Atmos is a columnist whose work has been featured by The Huffington Post, Quartz, and Medium.
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