“We think that the point is to pass the test or overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.”

~ Pema Chodron

Stop being what you are not, instead embrace what you are. In a culture where perfection is prized over authenticity, it truly is an excursion into the wilderness to openly celebrate your flaws. Yet, if we were all some form of cookie-cutter perfection, what would become of our true unique humanity? How boring and undefinable would we all become if we actually met the model of perfection. I am certain that there have been numerous Sci-Fi movies, books, and tv shows outlining the pitfalls of a homogenously perfect society. Somehow this has not stopped our unforgiving drive to reach perfection. A quick look through any social media platform will show you how everyone is busy leading their perfects lives, with their perfect relationships, buying their perfect possession, on display in their perfect homes. So exhausting.

Our current fascination with perfection is a relatively new construct, I cannot quite track when it started, maybe Martha Stewart might have been the culprit?

Perhaps she was just an early symptom of this self-defeating misperception of reality. And that is what it is, it is truly a misperception. Perfection simply does not exist, not in nature, and not in our made-up world either. Our ongoing fascination with perfection appears to result in high levels of anxiety and depression, leading to an overwhelming sense of unworthiness. How heartbreakingly sad, this is where we have found ourselves. Perhaps even more disturbing is that we don’t seem willing to step off of this particular hamster wheel.

My journey off the beaten path into the woods has allowed me so much peace, I had no idea it was even possible to feel such peace. Often, it is short-lived, I will have good days followed by days where I fall back into self-defeating patterns and thoughts. I have become much quicker at stepping off the wheel now. Quicker to reflect, reframe, and redirect my topsy turvy brain. As with any time we decide to break a toxic habit and replace it with a healthy one, it is not easy or simple to accomplish. It takes work and awareness, not all are willing or able to have. We all know how hard it is to switch to a healthier diet when we have fallen into making poor choices. 

Having had even a taste of peace, I can tell you, I am very dedicated to making it back there. We all define peace a bit differently, for me it has been a long lesson to learn and one that I am only in the earliest stages of accepting and growing with.

We’ve been living under the shadow of the pandemic now for a long time. In a calendar, it may be 8 months in our lives the way it feels it could be at least 100 or more. Mix that up with the unrest over politics, racial divides, domestic abuse, and so many other stressors that are out there, and our stores are well and truly depleted. At a time like this when we’re all a little more on edge and all, a little more exhausted it is incredibly important to give yourself grace. Grace is knowing both your power and your vulnerability and being comfortable standing there between the two. 

What that looks like for me is allowing myself to break sometimes, it is allowing the tears to come it is sometimes it looks like sitting in the bathroom, the door closed, so nobody else can hear you cry. Sometimes it means putting your head back in the car for an extra 5 minutes because there aren’t a lot of breaks in the day and the few that can be stolen require a lot of sighs and deep breathing and reminding yourself that this too shall pass. Right now, if the smallest deviation feels like a mountain in front of you and if you can’t face the mountain today, then that is ok too.

Even when you break, know the power that you hold. We are all-powerful human beings. We are all incredibly beautiful in the value that we hold. Even if at this very moment, you feel just tiny and small. Always remember there is a great deal of power in the tiniest creature. You just must choose to accept it. Breaking is part of growing. It is how you build your muscles; you break them slowly and consistently and then they regrow and strengthen and develop and get bigger. 

We have this morbid fascination with perfection and social media has just made that 1000 times worse than it’s ever has been. We sit there all day and look at perfect pictures of perfect people doing perfect things and somehow those slices of reality became something we need to attain. Not only attain momentarily, which is normal to have slices of happy amongst our chaos, but somehow it got twisted into the expectation of perpetual perfection.

We are never not broken and that’s incredible. It means that we are always healing, and we are always growing, and we are always becoming stronger even when it doesn’t feel like it. 

We can do hard things; we are doing hard things and we’re doing them well. I know, it may not feel that way. Give yourself the grace to know, it’s OK to break, it’s OK to not know the answer and it’s really OK to do whatever you need to do to take care of yourself right now. Sometimes hard things are simple: treating yourself with the respect you deserve, remembering how incredible you really are, accepting a compliment, and really accepting it as truth. 

Every day there are new hard things to do and every day we survive. We keep going and even when we gain a few extra scars from it, we learn.  I love the concept of never not broken, I think it’s incredibly beautiful. In Japan, there is a tradition known as Kintsugi. When pottery breaks it’s not glued back together, and it’s not just disposed of in order to honor the piece it’s welded back together with gold to highlight the beauty of the break. I think that’s pretty incredible; I love that it can be applied to people too. It plays into the stretch marks that every mother needs to honor, the scars that we all bear emotionally from the traumas that we face. Yes, they are painful, yes, it is not easy and yes they are incredibly beautiful because they are representative of just how incredible we are. 

We can heal, move forward, do more, and learn from all the things that might have broken us and have also built us. Give yourself the benefit of the doubt, remember to give yourself a hug, remember to feed yourself food that’s going to make you feel good,  entice yourself with the very best foods when it’s really hard to eat anything. We all just need to breathe, be kind to others and most importantly to ourselves. I think that more and more I am hearing from people where their struggles, I notice how Universal our struggles are. We need to understand that we are all struggling.

We also need to celebrate that we are still here, we are still working at life and we’re learning.  We are pivoting, becoming more and more adept at this world that we do not understand and cannot rely on. We are becoming flexible, resilient, and incredibly beautiful in the way that we are learning to deal with all the craziness, all the ambiguity, and all of the tension that we are riding at this moment. 

It’s time to explore our vulnerabilities, I believe it is our greatest strength. We have all (at a global level) been put into a series of events that is sad, hard, scary, tumultuous, and humbling.  If we can put down the shields, put down the fake, put down the masks that we all carry and just be ourselves.  Be vulnerable, be who we really are how amazing could that be? One of the side effects of our personal stores being so incredibly depleted is that we just don’t have the energy to pretend anymore. That’s kind of beautiful. This may not be the way any of us ever envisioned change happening, it’s incredibly beautiful that people are connecting with each other far more, in a much deeper manner. People are actively reaching out to support each other, it is becoming the norm.

Along with all of the tensions and the aggressions on the news every night,  day by day I see more neighbors stopping to check on each other, strangers taking notice of people who seem overwhelmed, going out of their way to approach, and offer support. Not only can we do hard things, but we can also do incredibly kind things. Noticing other’s needs, everyone seems to be trying to help and I think that is amazing.

When things get rough, absolutely you see people who become all about themselves, the survival of the fittest mentality. Then you see the rest, the helpers, the seekers, the kindhearted. Truth is I’m seeing way more people trying to lighten the load for each other, way more of the people who really care. We, as a society, have been broken for a long time. Now as the lights are being shined on all of the cracks, all of the crevices, we have the opportunity to fill them with gold. Highlight the beauty of them all.

Heal, grow, develop, and strengthen our brokenness into our new reality.

We are truly at a pivotal point in history and we can make it better. Only if we take care of ourselves too. It’s OK to feel overwhelmed, it’s OK to feel scared, it’s OK to feel uncertain or any feeling there is no right or wrong feeling, there is only feeling. Feel them all, move through them all. Show yourself grace, stand in your power, open your vulnerability, and live in a constant state of never not broken. 

Namaste ~ Michiko @SweetSerenityYoga

Image: statue by Paige Bradley