You Don’t Have to Be Perfect!

Good News!

Most of us live under the burden of trying to be perfect – at work, at home, in our relationships…everywhere. It is a heavy weight that can discourage and paralyze us, especially regarding our children, no matter how old they are.

We have a false belief that in order to have a positive impact in our children’s lives, we need to do everything perfectly, or pretty close! This is just not true. We can have an even bigger impact in our children’s lives when we goof up and apologize.

It is in these moments that we show them how to live life as an imperfect person. Click To Tweet

They need to see us apologize when we hurt someone, make amends in our relationships, and be compassionate with ourselves when we fail. None of that can be taught by words, only experience.

As a therapist, I worked hard to stay in tune with my clients, and not make mistakes in how I responded to them in their most tender moments. Of course, try as I did, I still made mistakes, resulting in hurt feelings. I always felt bad about this, but it didn’t paralyze me. I knew that it was in these vulnerable moments I could be a source of healing.

What I discovered, was that most of my clients had never had anyone admit they misunderstood them or hurt them. Of course, this happened; it was unavoidable. They didn’t hear their parents openly acknowledge that, “I got that wrong, I let you down, I hurt you by what I said or did…and I’m so sorry.” Instead, their parents either didn’t notice, pretended it was no big deal, or blamed their child for their bad actions.

It was in these moments with my clients I was able to be a part of healing an old wound. I was able to be with them and acknowledge I made a mistake in how I responded, or misunderstood them. For most, that had never happened before.

More emotional healing occurred in these moments, than if I had responded correctly initially. Click To Tweet

I share this to give you hope

How you handle the mistakes you make with your children is the gateway to a deeper and more meaningful relationship. This is how you equip your child to live in a judgmental world that doesn’t offer grace and understanding for mistakes. As we learn to embrace our imperfections, we will help our children do the same. Even when we respond poorly, we can go back later and talk about it. It is a wonderful way for both parents and children to learn together how to be compassionate with themselves. Here’s an example (of course, this doesn’t have to just apply to parent-child interactions):

Mom: I’m so stupid. I forgot to get the supplies you needed for your project. Ugh!

Child: It’s okay Mom (looking down, dejected) Later….

Mom: Honey, I wanted to talk to you. Do you remember what I said to myself when I realized I forgot to get the supplies for your project?

Child: Yeah, you said you were stupid and you were mad at yourself.

Mom: How did you feel when that happened?

Child: Bad, I didn’t like you saying that to yourself. I also felt bad, like I shouldn’t have asked you to get my stuff.

Mom: I’m so sorry honey. First, I want you to know it was good for you to ask me for what you needed. That showed what a good student you are. It is so great you figured out what you needed, and asked me to get them for you. You did nothing wrong, and I’m glad you asked me.

Second, I didn’t like how I talked to myself either. I prayed and asked God to help me figure out what happened, and why I was mean to myself. He helped me realize that several hard things happened that day at work, and I was distracted and just forgot. I know that could happen to anyone, and just means I’m human. I was angry at myself for forgetting, but mainly I felt bad I had disappointed you. I’m going to try to be kind to myself in the future when I make a mistake, instead of being mean to myself. I’m also going to set an alarm on my phone to help me remember important things, like picking up the supplies I promised you. What do you think?

Child: Thanks for telling me. I was sure somehow it was my fault. Anyone can forget, Mom. I do too. Maybe I’ll be nice to myself when I mess up too.

What do you think?

What jumped out at you regarding the interaction above? What is it like to know you don’t have to be perfect, and can go back and repair hurts with your loved one? My guess is you may feel encouraged, hopeful, confused, and also unsure how to do this.

The good news is that my long-awaited book, Give Your Kids a Break: Parenting with Compassion for You and Your Children will help you learn how to be compassionate with yourself, and teach your children to as well. I hope it will be a blessing to you, and those in your life.

I’d love to hear from you!

Please leave a comment in the box below. Also, please share this post on social media, or via e-mail. It’s good to know we don’t need to be perfect!

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

3 thoughts on “You Don’t Have to Be Perfect!

  1. What do you think? —Beautiful, and just brilliant! —Very deep, very smart!!! I fully agree. To ask to be forgiven, a great apology along with modeling behaviour and a corrective process for the future can be better than always getting it right!!! Improving is better than “being perfect.” I always ask myself: The real question is, can you love the real me? Not the perfect person you want me to be, not that image you had of me, but who I really am?

    “. . . .We can have an even bigger impact in our children’s lives when we goof up and apologize. It is in these moments that we show them how to live life as an imperfect person.” —Absolutely. . . . .I don’t have children but that seems really true. Again, a great apology along with modeling behaviour and a corrective process for the future can be better than always getting it right!!!

    “As a therapist, I worked hard to stay in tune with my clients, and not make mistakes in how I responded to them in their most tender moments.” —Beautiful, just brilliant because if you respond inappropriately you know you set them back. Some old wounds never truly heal, and bleed again at the slightest word.

    “I got that wrong, I let you down, I hurt you by what I said or did…and I’m so sorry.” —Powerful and so beautiful and full of healing.

    “Instead, their parents either didn’t notice, pretended it was no big deal, or blamed their child for their bad actions. It was in these moments with my clients I was able to be a part of healing an old wound. I was able to be with them and acknowledge I made a mistake in how I responded, or misunderstood them. For most, that had never happened before.
    More emotional healing occurred in these moments, than if I had responded correctly initially.” —Absolutely, because you showed them that there are good mothers, not perfect mothers but good mothers, even if they grew up with a monster like my mother.

    “Second, I didn’t like how I talked to myself either. I prayed and asked God to help me figure out what happened, and why I was mean to myself. He helped me realize that several hard things happened that day at work, and I was distracted and just forgot. I know that could happen to anyone, and just means I’m human. I was angry at myself for forgetting, but mainly I felt bad I had disappointed you. I’m going to try to be kind to myself in the future when I make a mistake, instead of being mean to myself.” —Again, beautiful, just brilliant. Show up and be real, be honest, and let your true self be seen.

    “I’m also going to set an alarm on my phone to help me remember important things, like picking up the supplies I promised you. What do you think? Child: Thanks for telling me. I was sure somehow it was my fault. Anyone can forget, Mom. I do too. Maybe I’ll be nice to myself when I mess up too.” —Just brilliant because staying vulnerable is a risk we have to take if we want to experience connection. Letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are. Choosing authenticity means asking God for the courage to be imperfect, to set boundaries, and to allow ourselves to be vulnerable. Exercising compassion toward ourselves which is really just practicing authenticity during our most soul-searching struggles. That invites grace, joy, and gratitude into our lives.

    Humans are suspicious and jealous creatures. When we see something perfect, we want to find a flaw. Understanding the difference between healthy striving and perfectionism is critical to living a real life. Perfectionism ruins success and in fact, it’s often the path to depression, anxiety, addiction, life paralysis, and you name it.

    I don’t think we ever do get it totally together. . . . .Probably, if we did manage to do it we would spontaneously combust. Ha, ha, ha, ha. There’s no way to be a perfect mother but a million ways to be a great one. (Again, I don’t have children so I am extrapolating from my issues.) I do know that self-focused seems healthy: “How can I improve?” vs. perfectionism which is destructive and other-focused: “What will they think if I am not perfect?” If we can’t stand up to the never good enough and who do you think you are self-tak? —then obviously, we can’t move forward. I want to bring the real me to the table and I can only do that if I’m practicing self-compassion and self-love which gives us the courage to be authentic.

    Thank you Kim!!!❣😊
    Aleea 🌷

      1. Thank you so much Kim. . . . .I so believe in what you are teaching. Lives are just ruined with all this toxic shame and self-judgement and perfectionism. There is nothing I can do that would possibly cause God to love me less ―or more. I am already *totally* loved and *totally* accepted by Christ. . . . That’s a done deal! . . .Lately, I have been thinking of confession to God, more of allowing Him to remind me that I am ALREADY forgiven, instead of going to Him, ASKING for forgiveness. This has helped to relieve me a bit of my ever-present “works” mentality.

        . . . .And sometimes it just so hits me. I realize that my self-loathing is not a product of my inadequacy but, rather, a product of my thoughts. Love is not the opposite of power. Love IS pure power. Love is the strongest power there is. My job, my only job here in this moment (right here, right now), is to love myself the way Christ does and, by extension, to love others. My job is just to live and to realize that to live is to love.

        We all dream of being exactly what we are ―powerful, beautiful, and worthy. I flourish when I realize I’m already complete in Him. Self-improvement without self-compassion and self-love is like building a house upon sand. I can build and build, but it will always sink. My relationship to myself is and always will be directly reflected in all my relationships with others.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *