“You seem to have it all so together,” somebody told me last week. Interesting perception, I thought, because I certainly don’t. “You seem to have such a close relationship with your children while other people struggle with their teenagers, and you have such nice family traditions and, in general, such positive relationships, and your business is going so well. How do you do that?” she continued.
Ever since that conversation, I have been puzzled as to why somebody might have that perception. Are all relationships in my life perfect? Of course not. Some relationships can certainly still be improved. And those that are healthy and loving relationships are the result of years and years of work. Relationships want to be built and maintained by spending quality time together and having open and honest conversations. I had to examine how my parents parented and change what didn’t work for me.
The second thing which probably creates the impression that everything is rosy is that I usually choose to focus on the positive. In every given moment, we have the choice to focus on everything that is not perfect or unsatisfactory, or we can choose to love what is. Do my daughters and I have disagreements? Of course. We talk about it, express our feelings and move on. Is my father the perfect father and grandfather? Of course not, but he loves us in the way he can. Does my partner always do what I would like him to do? Of course not. In fact, he does many things I would do completely differently. I could constantly focus on what I don’t like, or I can choose to focus on what I do like. It is, after all, not my job to change him or any other family member! My job is to love the people in my life the way they are.
In her book Wabi Sabi Love, Arielle Ford describes how to accept, embrace and love imperfection: your own and your partner’s. She shows that how we choose to see things informs the way they appear to us: “The human mind can be a fault-finding machine uniquely equipped to focus with laserlike precision on the few things that are lacking, rather than on the bigger picture of all that we have in abundance.” (Arielle Ford)
She teaches in her book to love and value imperfection, based on an Ancient tradition called Wabi Sabi. In the world of Wabi Sabi, a broken vase with a crack, for example, is way more valuable than it was when it was not cracked.
Arielle Ford relates this ancient art form to love and our relationships. Wabi Sabi love is grounded in acceptance. “It’s the practice of accepting the flaws, imperfections, and limitations—as well as the gifts and the blessings—that form your shared history as a couple.” (Arielle Ford)
In chapter 3, Arielle Ford describes a man who used to be challenged with accepting his partner’s emotional and mental state. The husband worked from home, and the wife in a busy office. Frequently, she would come home in a tizzy, stressed out, tired, grumpy, and needing some TLC. Her husband’s righteous reply used to be, “didn’t you meditate today?” At that point, she would get even angrier, and they would end up in a fight.
What was really going on underneath? He couldn’t stand her upset energy and tried to fix her rather than embracing her, accepting her present state of mind and allowing her to find her own centre. They learned to handle this situation differently with Wabi Sabi Love. Instead of making his wife feel inadequate, the husband now understands that she wants to be heard. If he reverts to the lecturing voice that wants to point out the stress-reductive effects of meditations, she does not get more upset as she used to. They now have a code to signal to each other that old ineffective behaviours have surfaced.
Wabi Sabi Love means “exploring, embracing, and actually falling in love with the cracks in each other and ourselves.” (Arielle Ford) It’s not an easy practice. I certainly need reminders to love more and more in the Wabi Sabi way, but I invite you to try this: Start loving your own imperfections and mistakes and apply the same to the people in your life. Love yourself with all your emotions and challenges. Love your partner, your children and your parents for who (s)he is/are and not for who you hope (s)he will be one day.
Image by René Schindler from Pixabay
The comment which was made to me also brought up another interesting question for me. In how far do we—especially as women—hold back from showing our happiness and success to others? How often do we pretend to be smaller than we are so that other people don’t feel jealous or envious, or bad about themselves? How often do we use complaining to bond with other women because we focus on perfection instead of loving life’s imperfections?
Do we serve anybody by making ourselves smaller and less happy? We neither serve ourselves nor others. Instead, we influence our own experience. We are willing to feel less satisfied and happy in a given moment to commiserate with somebody else. We choose to feel like victims rather than like manifestors of our reality. We are also not encouraging others to shine their whole light brightly.
Don’t be afraid to be happy and shine your light. What others think cannot change your feelings unless you allow it to. Choose your friends wisely but remember no jealousy or envy can affect you if you come from a loving heart wishing the best for everybody.
“Because others cannot vibrate in your experience, they cannot affect the outcome of your experience. They can hold their opinions, but unless their opinion affects your opinion, their opinion matters not at all. A million people could be pushing against you, and it would not negatively affect you unless you push back. They are affecting what happens in their experience. They are affecting their point of attraction—but it does not affect you unless you push against them.”
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