Nobody’s Perfect – but you can come pretty close!
I was browsing in a charity shop on holiday a few years ago when I came across a rather quirky ornament. It depicted three owls sitting in a tree. Two were sitting upright on the branch, while the third one was hanging upside down next to them. Underneath them, it read ‘Nobody’s Perfect.’ I bought it on the spot.
The funny, upside-down owl amused me, but it was the writing that really struck a chord with me. All our lives, we strive to be what we consider to be ‘perfect’, whether that is a diligent, talented colleague at work, a loving and supportive son or daughter, a funny, compassionate, brilliant friend or the awesome parent who really can ‘have it all’. Here’s a newsflash, though: Nobody’s Perfect. The sooner we realise that and stop beating ourselves up trying to be flawless, we will be far happier – and probably far more successful at actually getting closer to being the person we want to be.
Forgiveness starts with you
As a species, the human race tends to find it easier to forgive others when they have done us wrong than forgive ourselves when we come up short in some way. However, learning how to let ourselves off the hook can help our mental health get stronger and give us a deeper understanding of how and why things can go wrong. Everyone makes mistakes. Each action we take affects the universe, and causes a reaction somewhere else.
It can be helpful to stop thinking about things that have gone wrong not as mistakes, but as feedback or learning opportunities to help us do better next time. To right ourselves and join the owls sitting the correct way on the branch in my charity shop ornament. We can do this not only by taking time to learn from our ‘feedback’, but also by letting go of residual self-anger, regrets and blame.
Easier said than done, maybe, but if you don’t try, how do you know whether you can succeed or not? If you fail the first time, have another go – forgive yourself and try again. Let go of harmful beliefs and stereotypes and listen when other people are valuing and appreciating you. Stop feeling like everyone must love you all of the time and accept that, sometimes and with some people, things won’t go as you would have liked them to and people won’t always agree with you or appreciate what you are trying to do. If you stay true to your own values, however, and go easy on yourself when you don’t quite measure up, you will start to show them that you are worthy of being loved. After all, if you refuse to love yourself, how can you show others how loveable you really are?
Have you ever had that dream when you are facing a crowd, or are about to give a speech, but you suddenly find that you have no clothes on whatsoever? I bet you can still feel the relief you felt when you woke up and realised it was all a dream. Grant Soosalu uses the concept of ‘being comfortable sitting naked in a crowd’ not to rekindle your most embarrassing nightmares, but to describe the value of feeling confident in your own skin and happy to be yourself, even in a large group of people. When you love yourself, you send out signals to others, letting them know that it’s OK for them to love you too.
Research into how mirror neurons in the brain work can help us understand how we are able to interpret and reflect back the feelings being displayed to us by other people. This can help us experience deeper empathy with others and notice emotions and behaviours in ourselves. Having a better grasp on what makes you ‘you’, and me ‘me’ can help us learn to love the things that make us stand out from a crowd and to take pride in who we are, metaphorical warts and all. Being able to do so completely honestly and without any embarrassment or worry may take a little more practice, but the results will be well worth the effort. It can be extremely tiring, hiding who you are from the rest of the world all of the time.
Which brings me back to the subject of taking pride in your naked body. No, I am not advocating bold, brassy ‘streaking’ sessions down your local high street. At least not until the weather gets significantly warmer than it is right now… When you become more comfortable with who you are, it stands to reason that you should feel happier with what you look like. Right? So many people, especially women, have hang-ups about their bodies and worry endlessly about love handles and perceived physical imperfections. We cover up with clothes and make love in the dark.
If we are really going to stand tall and look after ourselves, we must start to love our bodies. Stand in front of a mirror, naked, and say out loud what you like about yourself. If you think long enough, you will come up with a good, long list, I am sure. Learn to forgive your quirks, let go of any notions of perfection and appreciate the fact that your body is keeping you alive and stopping your organs and bones from falling in a messy heap on the floor. Look after your body with a healthy diet and regular exercise and embrace the unique, worthwhile person that you are.
Enhancing your life
Once you are able to forgive your flaws, embrace your uniqueness and stop finding fault in who you really are, it’s time to see how else you can look after yourself and enhance the time you have before it’s your turn to shuffle off this mortal coil’. We all look for ways to enhance, stimulate and improve our lives, and we agree that we feel better for having access to such diversions. The trick is to choose your life enhancing tools and diversions carefully, so they suit you and are not part of someone else’s vision for how you should live your life.
So, buying a motorbike, kayak or set of water skis will not bring the same joy to someone who adores reading and playing chess as they would to someone who adores outdoor adventure. Some people pursue excellence at work, while others relish their role in bringing up children or running a home – and plenty of us gain immense satisfaction from striving for excellence in both. Invest in yourself and you will see the rewards come back to you in joy, fulfilment and feeling a lot better about yourself and your worth to the world. You will have more stories to tell and feel more confident to reach out to others with similar interests and aspirations.
Start by listing your values, interests and life goals to see what appeals to you as a life-enhancing addition. Create a bucket list and start working out how to get items ticked off. Keep an open mind – don’t be afraid to try something completely new. You don’t have to go back to it if it’s not for you and if you don’t manage to create the perfect list of life enhancements at first – remember that ‘Nobody’s Perfect!’ and you can always keep trying until the right combination clicks. The more you enhance your life, the more wondrously you can love yourself and lead the existence you always aspired to.
 Source: https://www.webmd.com/balance/features/learning-to-forgive-yourself. Accessed 27 May 2021
 Source: ‘Loving Your Life’, by Grant Soosalu, 2015, p57
 Source: ‘Loving Your Life’, by Grant Soosalu, 2015, p74
 Source: https://blog.ted.com/what-are-mirror-neurons-further-reading-on-the-neurotherapy-described-in-todays-talk/ . Accessed 27 May 2021
 Source: ‘Hamlet’ by William Shakespeare, Act 3, Scene 1
 Source: ‘Loving Your Life’, by Grant Soosalu, 2015, p179