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.
Yesterday evening I spoke to a group of men about going deeper, past the surface and digging down to find our true selves. Anger, for most men, is our default reaction, emotion, the feeling we express most often. Part of this comes from a culture which teaches us that we are to; “cowboy up!”, “man up!”, and “shake it off!” when it comes to pain, loss, fear, rejection. It’s not manly to cry, pour out hearts out, lean on another, admit weakness and hurt. So, eventually, all the angst builds up and we explode in anger and rage. We yell, throw things, hurt ourselves and others. “The problem,’ I said, ‘is that we’ve buried all the emotion which we’ve been taught not to feel. Layer upon layer of unexpressed feelings are buried. Until we dig down, feel it, come face to face with it and figure out what to do with it we’ll be ticking time bombs waiting for the next frustration, anxiety inducing event to go off.‘”
Wisdom tells us, however, that this isn’t just a male problem. We all struggle to go deeper, past the surface to find out what’s below. Our past haunts us, memories of pain and rejection strangle us from within. We struggle to feel and express our true selves because we’ve lost touch with who and what we are down deep, at our core.