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On Monday, I wrote about how it’s essential to make personal changes, but how difficult it is to work through the negative stuff. If we want to find success in our personal goals, we have to address the negative stuff at some point. On Wednesday, I addressed how discouraging a negative internal narrative by relating my own experience.
Both of these posts are related because they address our flaws. Or what we perceive to be our flaws.
So it becomes an important question to ask ourselves: what if what we think is imperfect isn’t that way? What if we perceive points we don’t like about ourselves to be defects but could be something to celebrate?
We may be stuck on our “flaws” and that prevents us from moving forward in our wellness journey because we don’t want to deal with it. So what I am proposing is this: what if it isn’t something that needs to be dealt with? What if we can ignore it, or even better, embrace it?
It’s important to decide what makes a flaw, a flaw and prioritize our actions from there.
What Makes a Flaw, a Flaw?
In the strictest definition of the word, a flaw is an imperfection that interferes with our appreciation of something, in this scenario, ourselves. Flaws, for the most part, are subjective in nature. We might see a “flaw” in a particular work of art, but someone else sees it as what draws the whole piece together as a masterpiece.
There are cases where a flaw fundamentally breaks the function of an object, but you are not an object; therefore, you are not fundamentally broken.
Humans are like works of art. Life and experience shapes and molds us into what we are in this moment. What you see as a flaw in yourself might be what endears you to someone else. Do you have a mole that you consider unsightly to the point of wanting it removed? There might be a person who looks at it and thinks it’s what makes you beautiful.
On a deeper level, there may be something that you dislike about yourself: maybe you hate that you cry during a movie. It embarrasses you that you try to hide it from your companions. You view it as emotional weakness, and you hate feeling vulnerable. But guess what, that’s not a flaw: you are sensitive, empathetic, and you still care about the world. That trait is something to celebrate, not hide.
Remember that list we came up with several weeks ago in the newsletter about things we don’t like about ourselves? Review it again and see how many of those items you view as a “flaw.” In this case, look at anything you probably can change over the stuff you cannot. Create two lists with this in mind: things you can change and things you cannot.
Looking at the list of things you can change, see if anything from that side can be viewed as a positive. My number four item was: I am an extremely judgmental person. I see something I “disapprove” of and I have a judgmental thought or behave in a judgmental way.
I view my judgmental nature as a personal flaw, so how can I turn this into a positive? Judging people, for good or for bad, is human nature. I cannot fight my nature to judge, but I can turn it into a way to protect myself.
Working on previous experiences, I can preemptively decide if I can be open with a new person or if I need to proceed with caution. Before, I might have proceeded with a relationship against my better judgment and engaged in toxic behavior or I dismissed a person wholesale who might have been a good friend.
Additionally, if someone did something I previously disapproved of, I wouldn’t allow myself to have compassion for them. Everyone is working through their own lives, yet I expected them to be on better behavior than myself. Hypocritical, I know, but now I try to use my judgment as an opportunity to be compassionate because I don’t know what someone is going through.
Remember that what we perceive as flaws can be deeply subjective. Especially if we have a negative internal narrative.
That Internal Voice, Again
When you look at your list of “flaws,” specifically the ones you can change, you’ll probably find that it’s your internal voice telling you that they are flaws. The reality is, they probably aren’t. Try to figure out what the message the voice is trying to say, even if the delivery is awful.
In the moments I am upset with myself over being quick to anger, what is my internal voice trying to say? Examining the deeper message, I came to realize that I was disappointed with my immature behavior to a situation and wish I would take more time to reflect on a better reaction versus being combative.
I realized that based on my upbringing, I created an arbitrary set of rules over what I considered good about myself and what I considered “bad.” By doing so, I stunted my ability to create a positive internal voice who could be honest with my mistakes in a compassionate way. This voice’s message would not get muddled in the anger I felt for myself for years.
For yourself, consider that internal voice, figure out what it’s saying and why it’s saying it, and then take a step back: is this reasonable to believe it’s a bad thing or did it come from an arbitrary set of rules other or yourself placed on yourself?
Overcoming Flaws & Voices
So how do we work to overcome those “flaws” and the internal voices? Well, unfortunately the answer is different for everyone. I learned to overcome the things I perceived as flaws by looking at the sources in my childhood.
If the “flaw” fell under a set of rules I was taught, I asked myself: is this realistic in the modern world to be a bad thing or was this coming from a different time? If it came from an outside source that was agreed upon long ago, then maybe it’s
Your sources may be elsewhere, so you’ll have to address them as is appropriate. Here are some questions to consider
- But think about who influenced your internal voice: was it a parent? grandparent? teacher? religious leader? peers?
- Do they actually have authority over your life (the answer should always be “no” if you are a legal adult)?
- Why do you grant them authority over your life now, in your head and in your overall life? (Something to consider especially if they are dead and you are still listening to what they have to say)
- Are these voices trying to protect you from something? Taking risks? getting into legal trouble, getting into physical trouble, protecting your emotions?
- Are these voices trying to prevent you from something? Why do you think they are doing that?
- Can you take care of yourself without the help of these voices (the answer should be “yes” – voices do not help with mobility issues you might be
facing.They may even prevent you from doing stuff you can do)
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