The Courage to Accept that We are Enough
“The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am then I can change.”
– Carl Rogers
I am imperfect and I know it. I’ve been aware of my imperfection as far back as I can remember. Here’s today’s difference. I used to think of my imperfectness as something that would go away when I would “grow up.” The saddest and most uncomfortable aspect was the fear that this made me different and an outsider.
During my graduate school studies, I read On Becoming a Person, by renowned humanistic psychologist, Carl Rogers. Dr. Rogers’ lifetime of research and experiential work highlighted compassion and self-empowerment as rich resources to stretch toward full potential. He shared his own imperfection, self-acceptance, and the empowerment of knowing that being human is enough (Rogers, 1961). Many times throughout the years, I’ve returned to his teachings. If Carl Rogers could accept that he was imperfect, why couldn’t I?
I read Dr. Viktor Frankl’s teachings about finding meaning in even the most difficult circumstances. A Holocaust survivor, Frankl deeply understood the freedom to choose our attitude in any given situation, and that this choice helps us discover meaning in our lives (Frankl, 1984). He wrote that our decisions, rather than the conditions in which we find ourselves, determine who we are. Dr. Frankl’s writings have been critical food for contemplation, and have enlightened my relationship with personal vulnerability.
More recently, via the contemporary research of Brené Brown, PhD, I am further discovering inspiration and courage. She describes imperfection as a gift (Brown, 2010). In her book, The Gifts of Imperfection, Dr. Brown writes about authenticity and letting ourselves know that we are enough. She explains that we are all imperfect – not just you and me, but all of us – and the gifts of our brokenness include compassion, connection, and courage. Knowing this, we have ongoing opportunity to let go of who we “should” be and engage who we truly are.