By Julie Taylor
Millions of self-help books are sold in this country each year, offering advice on how to be thinner, smarter, richer, more successful... the list goes on and on. Sadly, many of us spend an inordinate amount of time trying to fix ourselves in one way or another. Why do we focus on the negative instead of the positive? “Most of us have been taught that we [have to] be perfect to be good enough,” says psychotherapist Dorothy Martin-Neville, Ph.D., founder of the Institute of Healing Arts and Sciences. “If we were raised with our faults always being pointed out, they become the first things we see -- unless we choose to change our perspective.”
Here are three ways to start accepting -- instead of rejecting -- your personality flaws:
Good: Be Kind To Yourself
If you want to make some personal changes, that’s fine -- but quit trying to “fix” yourself. "To those who are fixing themselves, I would say, 'You are not broken, so give yourself a break,'" says Martin-Neville. “We are all works in progress. Remind yourself that you're great as you are. Don’t judge yourself so harshly.” Look at a picture of yourself as a baby or a small child. Would you ever criticize that child for being flawed? Of course not. So why do that to yourself now?
Better: Focus On Forgiveness
"If a flaw is something you can change -- like perhaps you snap at people often -- then you can work on that knee-jerk reaction and begin to soften or stop it," says psychotherapist Jennifer Howard, Ph.D., author of Your Ultimate Life Plan. "But if one of your flaws is something you can’t do anything about -- like not being tall enough -- then you need to forgive your humanity and just let yourself be who and what you are." To do that, says Howard, you may need to dig deep. "Look at why you are so focused on your flaws, what it relates to from your past, and how you experienced this issue when you were young," she says. "Forgive those who helped create the problem inside of you -- and forgive yourself while you’re at it."
Best: Learn To Laugh At Yourself
Find the funny in your flaws. “A sense of humor is a great tool in looking at the fact that we are all simply human, and that we are flawed and in process,” says Martin-Neville. “Humor can make things far more acceptable. Learning to laugh at ourselves and never taking ourselves too seriously is a huge step in the right direction.” She says that over the years, she has taught her adult students that “we are all a bit crazy, so simply know and accept your craziness.” That way, you control it and it doesn’t control you.