Flaws are one part subjective, one part socially influenced and one part the things others have said. They may pertain to your appearance, your personality, your strength or other aspects of the self. And they can feel far worse than they actually are, especially if you've blown their significance well out of proportion. While it can be hard to embrace flaws that you've grown to hate, it is possible to do so. The journey to self acceptance is one many people face at certain stages in life and the sooner you learn to embrace those alleged flaws, the sooner you can stop letting them hold you back.
Reflect. Why do you think of these aspects of yourself as flaws? There are usually three main reasons for finding flaws in yourself, sourced in your own sense of self, social ideals and external commentary. The first, self, refers to your own sense of limitations or of not meeting standards you'd like to meet. Second, you will most likely have internalized society's current ideals of beauty, intelligence (or cleverness) and industriousness, and if you feel you don't meet those ideals, a flaw is easily born. Third, you may have internalized external criticisms from family, friends, coworkers, teachers, people on the street, whoever. In this case, the flaws are often born of another person's distorted image of desirable traits (ironically, their criticism is often a reflection of what falls short within themselves, projecting their perceived flaws onto you.) In reality, all three reasons for flaw-finding are fairly much intertwined and play off one another.
Challenging the flaws
Challenge your idea of flaws. Use your knowledge from the previous exercise in determining the source of your flaws to start challenging them. Once you're clear on how that idea of a flaw came to be, you can question its utility to you:
- If your own ideas about perfection have been the source of the flaws: Be more gentle on yourself. Seek to be more aware of the things you've being gifted with rather than focused on what's missing or imperfect. Life is precious and human beings are always more contented when focusing on the good they can do. Finding self balance is more important than focusing constantly on the negatives.
- If social ideas of perfection cause you to find flaws: Ideals in appearance, personality and behavior are often associated with particular periods in time. Nowadays, flaws seem even more deeply embedded by the technology that enables models, actors and celebrities to appear flaw-less in magazines and movies, thanks to airbrushing, makeup and other tricks of the trade. Ironically, many celebrities and icons of fashion and beauty can tell you they have flaws, and do their best to cover them up! And it's not only bodily appearance, but lifestyles that are presented as "perfect" too. Realize that the perfection presented through social images is often unrealistic and unobtainable, even for those supposedly representing these ideals. Life is messy, imperfect and ever changing.
- If other people's comments are the source of the flaw: Question the motives of those people. In some cases, it may just be that they weren't very nice, while in other cases, they might have been thoughtless, letting off steam or plain ignorant. Don't allow the unkindness or lack of sense of others to turn into a personal flaw.
Talk to your friends about your flaws. They'll probably have a lot to say. Often you're your own harshest critic, and the flaws you see in yourself aren't as bad as you think. Your friends will give you an honest and reasonable view of your flaws from the outer world's point of view. Do likewise for your friends who are worried about their flaws. Be kind and thoughtful!
Embracing the flaws
Remember that naming something gives it form, or even power. Avoid calling your flaws "flaws." Call them quirks, pet habits or "my thing". Being quirky sounds a lot more accepting then going on about being flawed. Taking the word "flaw" out of the whole equation makes any flaw much easier to embrace.
- Often what you think of as "flaws" are actually quirks. Quirks are like lovable flaws. Quirks make you who you are, so you've got to love them! If you didn't have them you'd be empty, boring and totally hated. Your quirks are the reason people fall in love with you, befriend you, relate to you, so embrace them.
- In turn, avoid finding "flaws" in others. When you feel tempted to do so, ask yourself why you think someone else has a flaw and rename it as "their thing", or whatever works for you
Plan ahead. Have witty or amusing comebacks ready for people who might say unkind or thoughtless things when you reveal (or revel in) your flaw instead of hiding it. This empowers you ahead of time and lets you keep the momentum going. Pretty soon, people stop viewing a supposed flaw as such when it's downplayed.
De-emphasize flaws. When it comes to flaws in appearance, take a leaf from the books of those so-called perfect supermodels. They know they have "flaws" too but they work on minimizing the impact and emphasizing their good features. Makeup, style of clothing, the way you walk, your attitude and your willingness to participate are all important ways to minimize flaws.
Think of the popular people in your life who don't match current standards of appearance––likely they'll have de-emphasized the flaws, made the most of their good points and are bubbly, friendly, outgoing and caring people who draw others to them.
Often speaking up about a so-called flaw gives other people the opportunity to connect with you and to own up to having the same fears, worries and thoughts as you. By creating the space in which people feel safe to discuss their flaws and show them, you can become part of a chain reaction of liberating other people from hiding their flaws!
Realize that flaws are part of perfection. If you were flawless, you wouldn't be perfect. Your flaws are part of who you are––part of your perfection. Some professional artists put purposeful flaws in their art. Your flaws make you human, so don't be ashamed of them.
Find the good part of every flaw. Go back to the list you started, and next to each flaw, write two good things about that flaw. You must do this for every single one. It can be hard, but it's extremely important to see that every flaw has its pros. If you're only seeing the cons, it's hard to learn to love the flaw. If you're having trouble, ask a friend to help you.