Daring Greatly

diamond_in_the_rough_by_alltelleringet-d6bxp1a

So, a while ago I wrote about the dangers of, or concerns around, striving for perfection. I don’t think I made clear that I believe, think, feel that recognising our imperfection and striving to be authentic and continue the active process of becoming ourselves is the key to our ability to enjoy our lives to the fullest and express who we are with meaning and therefore satisfaction. I think these are the things that lead us beyond Maslow’s hierarchy of needs into a new realm of more holistic needs that are better suited to humanity’s way of being, within the current culture, and may well lead to a revolution, perhaps even enough of one to start to change our evolution.

To the evolutionary biologist, evolution occurs over a long periods of time (millions of years kind of time). The smallest amount of time most are willing to suggest this has measurably occurred in humans and other species (referred to as rapid evolution, contemporary evolution or evolution within an ecological timescale) is within 50-100 generations. In today’s worldwide culture we tend to use the word ‘evolution’ rather loosely when what we often mean to reflect is a paradigm shift in an individual’s experience (as opposed to an entire species genetic direction). Yet, there is increasing evidence that species of many kinds are passing on learning to their young which is enabling them to enter their world with greater advantage and adaptation and, depending on your definition of evolution in biological terms, this is starting to influence the scientific worlds take on evolution. The recognition that evolution is not just genetic adaptation but is beginning to be seen as 50% genetics and 50% environment (or some similar measurement) is becoming more commonplace.

Returning to the idea of ‘perfection’, in terms of evolutionary biology homo-sapiens have never been perfect. There is a bit of a trend currently to idealise different periods of our evolutionary history such as pre-agriculture or the paleolithic period. The truth is that there is no time in human history that humans were perfectly in harmony with our environment or perfect in any particular way. “Humans are not at the pinnacle of any evolutionary ladder… Evolution is always working from existing parts… Organisms are not in ‘perfect harmony’ it is more that evolution just has to be good enough.” (Prof. Marlene Zuk, 2014). How many of us feel that we are ‘good enough’? I wonder if we started to think that we were just good enough if that might help many of us fill the void of doubt, fear and shame that drives us toward worthlessness, self-loathing, overthinking, over analysing, anxiety and depression…

In terms of religion or philosophical belief, without getting into great depth across multiple belief systems, there is a strongly familiar repetition that we are moving towards rediscovering, finding or reaching for perfection. Do our religious beliefs ever suggest that we were born imperfect? That our road leads us towards authenticity and that this is the greatest honesty we can achieve? It is easier to lose ourselves to a saviour that will cleanse us of our imperfections than to take the more honest and seemingly harder road toward just being our imperfect selves. It is easier to succumb to addictions, be they substance or material based, than accept our vulnerability. As researcher Brené Brown asks, in her infamous TEDex talk, how many of you see vulnerability in yourself as weakness yet when you see someone else expose their vulnerability you see courage.

The road to happiness, it starts with allowing yourself to be vulnerable. To be yourself, not who you think others think you should be but who you really are. It takes great risk and potentially terrifying honesty. In a world where we are told to ‘harden up’ or buy into the consumerist/capitalist idealism, and swallow the culture, politics or pseudo-psychology that is sold to us in bite size nominalisations, what we might really need to do is allow ourselves to be courageously vulnerable so that we can begin to accept our imperfections, feel worthy and experience innovation, creativity, real connection and happiness.

 

word errant satiety image courtesy of alltelleringet on deviantART

 

 

 

15 comments on “Daring Greatly

  1. thruthemist says:

    Extremely well written. As a culture, we hold ourselves to what we perceive to be today’s perfection, or that is my take. In all this striving, do we stop and look at what we really are or do we throw ourselves into constant change as a shield from looking inward? While that is not the case with everyone, it has been my case at times. My personal journey has turned much more to living mindfully at this point…

    This is an important topic, you nailed it. I wish there was some way to get this into the hands of developing youth thought processes. It would be interesting to hear the 18-24 year old thoughts on this.

    I worry that our sound bite culture will confuse the larger issues even more going forward, or maybe I am just getting older. Either way…you have my head in gear this morning.

    Smoke rolling out of my ears…did I mention older?

    mist

    • Thank you for such an honest and deep response. I talk a lot with my teenage son and find that although their culture differs much from my own, like us ‘older folk’ they still have those with varying levels of willingness to engage in genuineness.

      I too worry about the sound bite culture but have some trust that like all eras, there will be those that lead the way toward possibility, growth and change. I am an optimist but not through blindness!

      I so appreciate your reading this and taking the time to respond so meaningfully 🙂 errant. BTW I think living mindfully is one of the defining keys that securing a sense of stability within vulnerability.

  2. mrmodigliani says:

    Now Ms Errant, this also applies to you of course. May I ask how that spirit of yours is doing these days? You have been rather quiet for some time.

  3. ilyasstory says:

    I love this one. It is an issue I am dealing with now and am glad you wrote it, thank you. Vulnerability is tough to maintain especially when coupled with others expectations. I think that it is inevitable that we concern ourselves with what others think. As we grow and live we draw others toward ourselves as well as their expectations of whom or what we should be. Do you think that influences who we are? Can we ever really be true to ourselves?

    • Ilya, in all honesty I don’t believe we can maintain vulnerability all the time. We can live in the moment genuinely (as best as we are able in each moment) and as we become stronger, this vulnerability of living in the moment becomes easier. I think as this happens our concern for others thoughts becomes empathy and not necessarily a reflection on ourselves or our rich histories. As we mature the parts of our self that are childlike, or newly wounded, and embrace growth we continue to be true to ourselves. The application of empathy with those that you feel, know, believe cannot understand your position allows us to find a way to express our truth on an explicable level. It also opens us to learn from these others, surprisingly at times.

      Others expectations are just that, expectations. They may be disappointed when we do not fulfill an expectation that they have but it is their expectation not ours.This potentially influences who we are but if they are coming from a genuine place of vulnerability and honesty then this cannot be anything other than a positive and/or thought provoking influence.

      Thank you so much for reading this and taking the time to comment. It means a lot to me and I took my time to reply to be sure to be genuine in my response 🙂

  4. I hope all is well! 🙂

  5. Haven’t seen you in some time. Just checking in! 🙂

  6. Just popping by again to see if you are writing still! 🙂

  7. lexborgia says:

    Are you still alive? I hope so. Still waiting patiently on your resurrection but I wish you good health and sound mind in the interim.

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