The Perfection of Accepting Our Psychological Imperfections


Being unflawed is one definition of perfection, yet a perfect whole must include all its aspects, including any imperfections.

This is true for people as well. The wholeness of each life is perfect when it embraces everything including the difficult, unwanted, or regrettable elements.

Wholeness is the goal, but wholeness does not mean perfection,” writes Parker J. Palmer. “It means embracing brokenness as an integral part of life. The sooner we understand this, the better. It’s a truth that can set us free to live well, to love well and, in the end, to die well.”

Many of us with depression, bipolar disorder, or PTSD consider the diagnosis a brokenness we would rather not suffer. Yet, it is an integral part of our life. When symptoms are intense, this integral part seems all encompassing. As symptoms subside, they take up less of our energy and awareness.

The longer we live with the ebb and flow of our symptoms the more it makes sense to have wholeness as a goal. Not that we stop hoping for healing or a universal cure, but so we do not divide our self into acceptable and unacceptable pieces—a brokenness there is no cure for except a return to wholeness.

Embracing the whole of our self and our experience helps strip away the stress of self recrimination, of being depressed about being depressed, of shame over fears or obsessions. In wholeness our foibles get to bump elbows with our strengths, talents, and skills, and sometimes in the mix we put together new ways of seeing and doing.

We know when symptoms are fierce they can obliterate everything but pain, numbness, or despair. The whole of our life can be swallowed by a black hole of anguish. It is only in retrospect, when thoughts and feelings are brighter, that we can rage at our distress and simultaneously acknowledge it as another chapter in our life story.

When we can say, "I am all of the above," we become more at ease in our own skin, more at home on the face of this richly diverse earth, more accepting of others who are no more or less flawed than we are, and better able to live as life-givers to the end of our days. ~ Parker J. Palmer

Quote source: On Being
Photo credit: Hartwig HKD


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