Perfection or Progression –
A difficult discipline to master is self-awareness. It is when you are aware of the good and the not so good, the skills you possess and the ones which need work. The biases, skewed vision, different experiences, which make you the uniquely flawed individual like the rest of humanity.
Some of the men I work with have begun to develop this discipline and it is hard for them to see themselves as they truly are, with no excuses. It is especially for those who thought of themselves as good partners and fathers only to discover they have a lot of work to do. If we’re not careful these revelations can do more harm than good because the road seems terribly long. They may even ask; “Why try?”
Along with self-awareness, another discipline I try to teach is the truth of progression, not perfection. Oftentimes when we see ourselves, perhaps for the first time, we also envision the amount of hard work inside of ourselves out outside. We have this perfect view of what we want to be and what we think our family, friends, and others want us to be. We throw all of our efforts into becoming this perfect version of ourselves, which doesn’t exist and isn’t attainable, and never come close. We fail miserably.
This is why the path to peace and acceptance is progression, not perfection. We are never going to be the idealized version of what we think we want and should be. We will only wear ourselves out and down. To pursue progression doesn’t mean there isn’t hard work to be done but we recognize the realization of our true selves is found on the journey and not at the end of it.
Perfection or progression, the difference makes all the difference.
Progression not Perfection –
Today in our Incarcerated Father’s class we talked about; “How to be the Perfect Dad.”
I began by drawing a stick figure and asked the men what it needed to be an ideal father. On the face we drew a mouth for praising and giving guidance, ears for listening, eyes for seeing the good in ourselves and our kids, a nose for sniffing out trouble and a big ol’ brain for making good choices which have a long-lasting impact on us and our children’s future. We then went on to hands, feet and lastly I drew a large heart in the middle of the stick figure. “Without a heart which loves, helps, leads and values our children, partners and families, we’ll never be the father we need to be.”
After the exercise, we looked over the list of traits and duties a perfect father has, does and I asked the men a question; “Can anyone be a perfect, ideal dad?” They paused for a moment and said; “No.” “Correct!’ I replied, ‘we seek progression not perfection.”
It’s a good lesson for each of us to learn. We live in a world where celebrities on websites and magazines look amazing, not a blemish to be found. We read articles which extol the feats of men and women and they seem more advanced and evolved than us. We peruse Facebook and other social media sites where friends post photos, quotes, eloquent thoughts and we think to ourselves; “They’ve got it all. I’ll never be a _________ as good as them (fill in the blank).”
We forget so easily that pictures can be photo-shopped, well written pages are heavily edited, most folks only post their best on social media sites and no matter how perfect a person’s life may seem it is anything but…
Too often we have an ideal self and try to live up to it and, of course, we fail and spectacularly! Give yourself a break. Open up your heart and learn to love your frail, faulty, fickled self. Remember; progression not perfection is the way of the sane and contented.