(Caution: reading this article might be painful. Some of the stuff written below can make some people upset. After all, who wants to read about their flaws and shortcomings? Only those who want to handle them in a healthy way. So, don’t read on unless you are truly committed to growing and improving).
Should you love your flaws or accept them?
Or should you work hard on changing them?
Well, it’s not easy to say. Every case is different.
However, what really matters is the way you feel about having those flaws. This will either destroy your self-esteem or build it.
First of all, what I mean by the word flaws is the following:
“What you don’t like about yourself. Your shortcomings and insecurities and issues. Whether it’s about your personality, your life conditions, or even your physical looks.”
Those flaws can be real or imaginary.
In either case, they will threaten your self-esteem and self-image. Unless you deal with them in a healthy way.
To put simply, there is a healthy way to look at your flaws. It will help you maintain, and even develop, your self-esteem. And then there is an unhealthy way. It’ll crush you and destroy your self-esteem.
Both of the ways, the healthy and the unhealthy one, depend on how you feel about having those flaws.
And this is what we are going to discuss in this article. How should you feel about having flaws in a way that doesn’t consume your self-esteem?
To do that, we need to ask ourselves 3 questions about these flaws.
- Do you believe that they are changeable?
- Do you believe that they are your responsibility?
- Do you feel bad/unworthy/inferior/less-of-a-human because you have them?
The answer to these questions will reveal to you how you are feeling about your current flaws at the moment.
Of course, there is a healthy way to answer those questions. And that’s what we are going to do in the rest of this article.
Is There Hope?
Ask yourself this:
- Do you believe that your flaws are changeable and that you can actually improve and overcome them?
- Do you believe that your flaws are screwing up your life and there is nothing you can do about that?
You need to believe that your flaws are changeable. You need to believe that there is something that you can do to fix the situation.
You can have the worst personal flaws ever. But if you believe that they are changeable, and that you are still a work in progress, you are more than half way through the solution.
To believe that your flaws are here to stay and that they are unchangeable is more than enough to shatter your self-esteem.
With a shattered self-esteem, your problems/flaws will get worse and you will feel worse about yourself.
For instance, Greg is a socially awkward guy. He suffers from social anxiety and severe shyness. And he is aware of this.
He also lacks self-confidence and has a very low self-esteem. Most people don’t really respect or trust him that much. After all, people will give you the same amount of respect you give to yourself.
One of Greg’s friends told him, in a polite way, that he is actually needy and an approval seeker.
Greg, of course, didn’t like that. He denied it with a hesitant voice and a nervous laugh. But, every single cell of him knew that his friend was right.
That night, he didn’t sleep. He sat there thinking about what he was told. That night, he realized that he was needy and he lacks self-confidence.
Those were his flaws and shortcomings.
At this point, how he feels about these flaws (being needy and lacking self-confidence) is critical. As described at the beginning of this article, there are 3 important questions to ask. And then, to answer in a healthy way.
The one we are discussing now is: are they changeable?
Greg has to believe that overcoming neediness and developing self-confidence is doable. He has to believe that he can change and improve.
This is a fundamental belief. Without it, self-development, coaching, and mentoring are useless.
If you don’t believe that you can change and fix your flaws and shortcomings (as much as possible), nothing can help you.
Your own personal flaws can be something like Greg’s problem. Or they can be related to your work and career and financial situations. Or maybe they are related to your relationships.
Maybe it is something you don’t like about your personality. Or it’s something that you don’t like about your lifestyle.
Believing that you are stuck and that they are unchangeable will only inhibit you. So, I want you to look at them and believe that you do can change and overcome them.
Greg has to believe that he can be a confident person. He has to believe that he can develop enough self-esteem and never seek external approval.
To believe that you are stuck with your flaws, or what you don’t like, is a surefire way to screw up your life. In fact, by doing that, you’re giving up on yourself and telling the world that you are nothing but a weak victim.
(What if they are not changeable? This is the only case where you must accept your flaws. When you are 100% sure that you can’t change them. only then will true acceptance happen, without having to lie to yourself.)
Whose Responsibility Is It?
It’s not enough to believe that you can change your flaws and overcome them.
It’s also critical to believe that you are the one who has to change them and improve your life quality. That’s up to no one but you.
That’s called taking full responsibility for your own life. And it’s one of the oldest, yet the most important, self-development lessons.
Greg, in the previous example, has to acknowledge that he is responsible for turning himself into an attractive, confident person. No one is going to do it for him.
Even though he was the way he was because his parents treated him poorly. The environment in which he had grown up was full of bullies and mentally unstable people.
He never had someone to talk to and he never had a mentor or a role model.
But all that doesn’t matter. Yes, he went through tough situations but still, he is responsible for the results.
His emotional and psychological baggage is his responsibility.
Mark Manson describes this in his book The Subtle Art of Not Giving A Fuck as the responsibility/fault fallacy.
It’s not Greg’s fault that he was bullied and mistreated as a child. But it’s his responsibility to make himself confident. It’s his responsibility to take charge of his own emotional well-being.
We might suffer injustice, but in the end, it’s our lives and thus our responsibility.
As a fundamental rule, every single action in your life is your responsibility. Take charge of that. Don’t wait for someone else or something else to come around and change you. Nobody is coming to save you!
“The day you graduate from childhood to adulthood is the day you take full responsibility for your life” -Darren Hardy
(What if they are not changeable? Are they still your responsibility? Yes, it’s still your responsibility to accept them and to learn how to live with them).
How About Your Own Self-worth?
Ask yourself this:
- How your flaws are making you feel about your own self-worth?
- Are they making you feel unworthy, inferior, or bad?
- Do you try to hide them and deny their existence so that people don’t think you are bad, inferior, unworthy?
- Do you try to fix them so that people see you as a perfect person?
Look, having flaws is one thing. Stigmatizing yourself because you have flaws is another thing.
Having flaws is something inevitable. We all have our own scars and wounds. It’s life.
Stigmatizing yourself because you have flaws is very dangerous. It will hurt you more than the actual flaws will.
You will believe that, deep inside you, you are inferior and inadequate because you have XYZ. You’ll try to hide them and even compensate for having them.
You need to work on improving as much as you can. At the same time, you must never feel ashamed or stigmatize yourself because of your flaws or shortcomings.
For instance, Greg should develop his social skills and boost his self-esteem.
But he should never believe that he is less worthy, inferior, or inadequate because he has to do that (or because he lacks self-confidence in the first place).
It’s a balance that is hard to maintain at times. But it’s more than necessary.
Feelings of shame can force any person to give up on themselves.
When you feel ashamed of having flaws, you’ll never overcome them and you’ll also destroy your self-esteem.
This is not the same as ‘accepting your flaws and living with them’. It’s about not being hard and judgmental on yourself because of your flaws.
I remember one time when I chickened out of public speaking. I was so scared. I found a way to leave the place and escape.
I felt bad about myself and my self-confidence got shaken.
However, I didn’t let that make me feel inferior or bad or unworthy.
I just told myself something like, “I have a problem here and I need to solve it. I’m not as confident as I want to be. That’s my wound. It doesn’t make me less worthy or bad. It is life and we all suffer wounds after going through certain wars in our past. I’ll heal it. I’ll become more confident (remember? It’s changeable.). I deserve feeling more confident and I will work on that. It’s my responsibility.”
After thinking this way, my feelings of shame and inadequacy decreased. That’s important. You can’t improve yourself while looking down at yourself and stigmatizing it.
After all, feeling sorry for yourself won’t help. Feeling bad about yourself because you have something bad in your life will only add up more things to fix.
Don’t settle to your flaws and always yearn for improvement and growth. However, we are humans and we will always have flaws and wounds and even scars. Feeling sorry for yourself because you have them, or feeling that you are bad or inferior because you have them, will only crush you. You need guilt; not shame.