The mother of my BFF (Best Friend Forever) from high school told me something I will never forget - To be perfect is to be imperfect. That might be hard for some of us to grapple with. We tend to look in the mirror and search for "imperfections." A wrinkle here, a brown spot there, a bulging belly, a thigh bulge here. Guilty!
Or maybe we shame ourselves when we failed at something. For example, I decided to take a full-time job recently for a school network. I won't reveal the name, but suffice it to say I couldn't keep up with the copious amount of work the job required. I beat myself up every day and suffered what I am now calling a breakdown. I hardly ate, because my stomach was in knots at all times, I lived in fear of not meeting deadlines, I couldn't sleep through the night without some kind of sleep aid, and I could hardly have a conversation without crying. Needless to say, I quit after 3 months.
My need to be the perfect employee literally ate me up inside. I didn't speak up for myself and take a stand for what I felt was an impossible task for one person. I didn't set boundaries, so I worked 10 hours a day and often weekends to try and keep up.
This idea of perfection is about pleasing others. When we think we're being perfect either in our work or the way we look and act around people, we aren't serving ourselves. We are giving ourselves away for the benefit of someone else's needs.
Since I left the network, I have worked very hard to find balance and harmony in my life. To ground myself, clear my mind, and open myself up to new possibilities. I do this through a consistent morning ritual that includes several mindfulness practices including yoga, meditation, and mindful walking.
A daily mindful practice helps you to become more aware of what you're thinking. As my Live Free Yoga partner, Tida Chambers, says, "Thought is cause." What we think, we feel. It affects our behavior, our emotions, and our confidence.
Since thought is cause, I add this affirmation at the end of my meditation practice:
I am strong, I am wise, I am brave, I am capable, I am loved and lovable, I am perfect just as I am.
The last line used to be, "I am enough." But it felt limiting to me. To be "perfect as I am" encompasses all that I have been and all that I'll ever be. I reimagined perfection to mean that I am meant to be who I am right now in this moment in time - the wins, the losses, the achievements, the failures, the wrinkles, the blemishes, all of it.
When we can observe our thoughts through mindful practices like conscious breathing and meditation, we can step back and reimagine those ugly and hurtful thoughts into thoughts that support us in a positive way. Having a daily mindfulness routine will help to stabilize your mind and body, so you can love yourself as you are and bring harmony into your life.
Meditation is a proven method to bring calm, balance, and clarity into your life. Join us for our virtual meditation retreat, "Unlock Your Wisdom Within, guided by Live Free Yoga's meditation master, Tida Chambers, and begin your journey towards peace and self-love. Click HERE to register.
Author, Phyllis Smith, is the Co-founder and CEO of Live Free Yoga, which provides yoga and mindfulness programs for youth and adults who serve them. She is also the co-creator of Lighter Being, a transformative mindfulness video series to help you find more balance, self-love, and a lighter state of being. Photo by Kathy Tran