Why Feel Bad?

I see many well-meaning slogans encouraging us to embrace imperfections, anything from extra pounds, to volatile social skills. You know the ones. They declare to the world that we are perfect just the way we are, and that others need to fix their perceptions of us. Either that, or they can just leave us the hell alone!

On the surface, this sounds like a good thing: there is great power and peace in acceptance. The problem that I have with some of these slogans is that they imply that any attempt to correct an imperfection is an act of self-denial.

While the “I am who I am!” battle cries may feel empowering, they can also be imprisoning. They make it easy to ignore things about ourselves that we might be better off changing. After all, why are we feeling the need to shout? Why are we digging our heels into the sand? Doesn’t that usually happen when we are encountering some form of push-back? But what if that push-back is valid?

I think there’s a common fear that if we recognize imperfections and want to change them, that it will cause us to have bad feelings about ourselves. Whereas if we exalt our imperfections, with some lofty or self-aggrandizing slogan, we will somehow feel empowered.

But doesn’t that seem backwards? It does to me. Not only that, it seems like a hollow sort of empowerment.

You see, I think that we can acknowledge unappealing traits or tendencies without feeling down about ourselves. I think we can live with an unpleasant condition in our lives without experiencing angst, sadness, or despair. Obstacles don’t have to induce frustration. Love does not have to lead to worry. Intense work conditions do not have to cause stress. Imperfections do not have to make us feel unworthy.

Recognition and dissatisfaction do not have to be unpleasant experiences.

So, instead of aggrandizing our flaws and digging in our heels, how about we just accept that we are works in progress? Wouldn’t that feel a little more freeing? We could just cut ourselves some slack, join the human race, and still keep ourselves open to feedback from others that might expand our self-perception. Who knows, we might even evolve into a better version of who we are today. And wouldn’t that feel good?

If you found some value in this mindful musing, please share: A little empowerment goes a long way.

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Author Tori Eldridge headshotTori Eldridge is an author who challenges perception and empowers the spirit each and every day! VISIT HER WEBSITE to read more Mindful Musings, listen to Empowered Living Radio podcasts, or learn more about her and the books she writes, including the expanded e-book edition of EMPOWERED LIVING Expanded Edition: A Guide to Physical and Emotional Protection.

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2 thoughts on “Why Feel Bad?

  1. torieldridge Post author

    Great comments, Amanda! Life is about growth and evolution. We can love and accept ourselves and still press to evolve in ways that are important to us. Without self-denial. Without shame. Simply accepting our own Work In Progress.

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  2. Amanda Mahan

    I appreciate this inquiry. I admit that I am one of those proponents of accepting ourselves exactly as we are without trying to change anything. I do this because the major force in our culture goes in the opposite direction. The messages that we need to be more (or less) “X” are so strong that many people don’t stop to even try to accept themselves as they are. In our culture especially, shame pervades many people’s reality. As a shame researcher, I find that it gets in the way of people feeling empowered. Of course, there is a balance. Acceptance doesn’t mean we become apathetic and trying to change isn’t self-denial. If we start from a place of acceptance instead of a place of shame, the empowerment process looks very different. Unfortunately, we are not taught how to recognize shame and embrace imperfections. We are taught to change in order to fit in, be accepted. What if we were taught to accept ourselves as we are and grow from that place? Instead of changing for external “shoulds” – changing from an internal sense of empowerment. Perhaps its not about whether we should change or not, but about why we are changing?

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