“I’m not perfect.” Have you ever heard this from a partner?
Do you have a tendency to say it to others, yourself?
I want to admit right now, I have my own reasons for getting tense around this statement. I’m sure it could even go back as far as a father who used to drill into me and my brothers, every chance he got, “There’s no such word as ‘can’t!”
But there’s something that goes deeper for me when I hear that comment from a friend, lover, family member or client. When I received a PM today from a man who’s never met me, beginning with “I’m not perfect, but you make me want to………..”, something clinched inside.
What is someone thinking when they throw that line out? My sense is that many times, there’s a belief that it’s a positive thing. They are affirming that they have “flaws”, are doing the best they know how to do at the time and acknowledging, from a place of honesty, that they will more than likely make mistakes along the road. They are attempting to connect from a place of transparency, possibly even working hard to share their humanness in a way that would have scared them in the past. That can’t be a bad thing, right?
My personal experience with this certainly colors my thinking. I’ve had more than one partner use this line repeatedly, after every hurtful action or broken agreement. “I’m not PERFECT, you know!”
Yes, you keep showing me that.
My closest friend has been on the receiving end of that statement with a husband whose intention has been to deflect the specific issue at hand in hopes of discussing instead, how she is expecting too much from him. When it initially doesn’t work, he will include a whiney voice and pouty face, adding, “Maybe you’re perfect, but I’m not!”
I can feel myself getting all wound up inside again, just writing this.
Sitting around with a great group of friends over a glass of wine recently, I threw this out. “Is it me? Is this actually a wonderful admission that I need to change my thinking around? What do all of you hear when someone, especially a lover, says this to you?”
Their responses, almost across the board, were like these:
- When I hear it, I always feel like someone is saying to me, “Don’t count on me.”
- My sense is that this is a person who likes to always have a “loophole” in their life.
- I get scared. If I never asked for “perfection”, why are they even going there?
- I hear, “Don’t ask much of me, and we’ll be Ok.”
- I get a knot in my stomach because the healthiest partners I’ve had, have never said that line.
- It feels like a way to try and avoid personal work.
Hmmmm. This is interesting, isn’t it?
“I’m not perfect.” I’ve never uttered those words to anyone in my life, and yes, I’m sure some would say it was because I probably thought I was! At one point in my life, I’m sure that was true. Or at least, I was hell bent on trying to be and making sure people saw me that way. Thank God for rock bottoms and healing.
But I think the reason I’ve never had that mindset, is because I do believe in our innate “perfection” along with the amazing ability we all have to grow, change, clear things up and make real, heartfelt amends when necessary. It doesn’t normally cross my mind to consider whether I am doing something “perfectly” and right or wrong, I, for the most part, move through the world thinking I can do almost anything I put my mind to!
If we make a personal commitment to ourselves to be our best selves, to show up “fully”, to live from a place of integrity and hold our own feet to the fire around our behavior and actions in the world, do we really need to throw out a caveat for our intention to rest on?
What's your personal experience with and thoughts on this? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!