Could happiness be captured only through perfection? Could the reason for anguish: ”__ was never perfect enough for __.” have the power to keep one from a fulfilling and joyful life? The assumption is that the cause for one’s misery is due to an imperfect and flawed life, self, or person. This paradigm leaves one feeling powerless, since one assumes that a negative cause directly results in a negative effect, and therefore, only a perfect cause can result in a perfect effect.
In psychiatry and psychotherapy also, there is often the assumption that damaged people come from childhood traumas. And to a certain extent that is true. But psychiatry cannot explain why the experience of trauma and suffering, for some, lead to a fulfilling and productive life, while for others, lead to dysfunction and suffering.
What is missing is the understanding that between cause and effect, there is choice. Experiences do not cause their effects. It is one’s response to the experiences that determine the effect. And choosing to learn from both good and bad experiences has the potential to transform all experiences to a wealth of growth.
Within choice is held the essence and purpose of life.
Not only do people have the power for creative transformation, life is the very practice of it. All problems, imperfections, and traumas are included in the very fabric and matter of our purpose in life: to create order out of chaos, to change negative to positive, and to bring light into darkness–in essence, to practice being the best human. We are entrusted with this creative process and the world is our workbench.
What does this mean? It means that life’s riches lay all around us in all guises and forms. We can learn and grow from anything and everything, as long as we are willing to learn. As long as we recognize that trauma does not necessarily lead to a damaged life. Trauma can lead to an empathic life, a connected life, and any positive description of life one chooses, depending on what one is willing to learn from it.
There are a million reasons for pulling away from being actively engaged in the creative transformation of life. The human race is knit together in understanding of the tremendous difficulties inherent within day-to-day living. The only proper response for human suffering is compassion and the desire to help, not judgment, and certainly not smug dismissal.
Being active in creative transformation is not an easy life, but it makes one alive. Attempts to avoid the task is to try and avoid living. Can one avoid life? Not really–the lessons just need to be repeated . . . over and over again.
One lesson that has many permutations is the lesson on love. Life challenges us to find the good aspects of love and then to love fully and completely, no matter what. This lesson begins with finding the good aspects of love and learning how to love ourselves and others. Perfection in life is found through love, for only through love can perfection be realized and perceived.
The need to be perfect is the need for love. The anguish of never being good enough for someone is the anguish that comes from a lack of love, not because one is unlovable, but because so many do not know how to love. For, who can see perfection except through love?
Life, in the end, is not a story about traumas and imperfections, it is a story about the person, and what that person did with it.
It is our reluctance to let go of the assumption that life should have been perfect, that keeps us from rolling up our sleeves and getting down to the business of living life.
Life was never meant to be perfect. Life was meant to be perfected–through, within, and around us.