text and photo © Jonathan Zap
Perfectionists hold themselves to standards they would not apply to others. But such severe self-criticism does not usually enhance performance or efficiency; more often it undermines these pursuits. By excessive self-criticism we lower our morale and self-esteem diminishing our enthusiasm for life. Self-acceptance is not the same as narcissistic grandiosity, it is simply recognizing yourself for being alive, for continuing to deal with the rigors of human incarnation, and for whatever else you are able to accomplish beyond that. You may be doing better than you think. Forget the sterilizing severity of perfectionism; self-acceptance is necessary to your well being, the core from which you can be of service to the world.
Self-acceptance can be a moment to moment struggle, one of the most difficult and courageous of life missions. Self-rejection is an enemy of almost infinite form with its myriad masks and moods and self-medicating, self-sabotaging seductions. But you are the only self you’re going to get, and self-acceptance needs to be at your core. According to the I Ching, your primary obligation in life is to work on your relationship to yourself. Get that relationship right and your relationships to other people, to the creative process, to sex, time, money, body, career, collective, cosmos will be as good as they possibly can be. But neglect or reject any part of that relationship and your relation to all those things will be accordingly diminished and distorted. Stop reaching for that shiny, new, perfected, hypothetical future self. Summon the courage to work with who you are and where you find yourself right now. Nothing is closer to your core than self-acceptance.