How do we see ourselves?

How do we see ourselves?  It’s a powerful question..usually it has many answers, and they are well worth exploring. Not long ago I received the gift of Richard Wagamese’s rich and beautiful book, Embers, a collection of essays.  This one spoke to me at my core: 

When there’s a crack in my mirror, I can’t see myself as I am 

—all I see is the crack.

The crack tells me that there is something wrong with me,

that I’m not enough and that this is how others see me too.

It’s not a question of finding a better mirror.

It’s about seeing beyond the crack. I am not, nor ever will be, perfect.

But I don’t need to live for approval. I need to live for acceptance

and joy in the unique, worthy, lovable, beautiful, sacred being that I am

and to celebrate the same thing in others.

That’s seeing beyond the crack.

I’m learning to love my imperfections;

in the end, they make me who I am,

In all my flawed glory.

—Richard Wagamese, “Embers”

perfectionism is a burden

I grew up with lots of judgements and criticism flying around, a good bit of it directed at me. Plus I inherited a strong dose of perfectionism. How do we see ourselves? I am really good at seeing “my cracks”, there doesn’t even need to be a crack in the mirror :-)!! It’s so easy to notice and focus on our faults. That habit of mind creates much pain and distorts our view of ourselves.

Happily there are many teachings, both deeply spiritual, and those simply about living a good and happy life, that emphasize how importance self-acceptance and self-compassion are on our path. It has been a big part of my learning to grow in self-acceptance, to recognize and embrace my imperfections, and to stop considering myself a “problem to be fixed”. It is a such a relief to look back and see how far I have some, no longer seeing myself as “Project Jill”, but really more like a miracle, and to appreciate and accept myself, as Fred Rogers sang, just the way I am! At least on better days!

Joan Borysenko, one of my favorite authors, has a piece called The Blessings of Imperfection 🙂 with many thoughtful and helpful tools for learning to Give Up Perfectionism, one of the essays in her book, Inner Peace for Busy People.

self-acceptance is key

How do you see yourself? When you look in the mirror, or in your mind’s eye? I’d love to know. We’re in this together.

Posts along these lines that I have enjoyed revisiting:

Probing Perfection. At one and the same time: Just as I am completely perfect, I am also riddled with imperfections!  I am an amazing life form, alive at an incredible moment in history, full of potential, wonder, possibilities, and I am judgemental, of myself, others; I am selfish, thoughtless, forget to take even one conscious breath, or think before I speak! Both/and, and it’s all good!

There is Always Light…” is an excerpt from Amanda Gorman, the youth Poet Laureate’s contribution at the Biden-Harris inauguration.  Remembering Leonard Cohen‘s wonderful Anthem,  There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in…” 

Jill Schroder is the author of BECOMING: Journeying Toward Authenticity.  BECOMING is an invitation for self-reflection, and to mine our memorable moments for insights, meaning, and growth.  Check the website for a sample chapter, or see the reviews to get a flavor for the volume.  Your feedback, forwards, tweets, likes are most welcome. 🙂

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