By Sara Fabian | Tiny Buddha
“I do not fix problems. I fix my thinking. Then problems fix themselves.” ~ Louise Hay
Looking back on my life, I came to understand that perfection was my worst enemy. I was raised in an environment of high expectation, and every day in school felt like I was competing with others and fighting to be the best in class.
At the age of ten I believed I was stupid just because my brain couldn’t work out physics and math. I was good with literature, arts, and foreign languages, but that wasn’t a sign of brilliance in the Eastern-European culture that shaped me.
Much later, as a grown-up woman, I didn’t see myself as good enough, beautiful enough, smart enough, or successful enough. I felt unworthy of being loved by a wonderful man, unworthy of getting a good paycheck to reflect my skills and talents, too unworthy to apply for a tempting position at work.
My life looks completely different today, and I embrace the new me with much gratitude and joy. I love myself as I am. I am happily married and doing what I was born to do in the world.
So how did this shift happen?
I can recall myself feeling overwhelmed after a long meeting at work, and looking for some inspiration to help me release the stress and feel better. As I was searching for The Secret movie on the YouTube, I “accidentally” opened another video that went straight into my heart: You Can Heal Your Life, by Louise Hay.
Today, I know that was no accident. The teacher shows up when the student is ready—so true! I was so touched and absorbed by that movie, I couldn’t stop watching. Listening to Louise was pure magic; every single word went straight into my heart. I finally felt home, in a space where it was perfectly okay to be me: “I love and approve myself as I am. I am whole and complete and life loves me.”
Over the next year, I discovered the work of other enlightened souls—Wayne Dyer, Byron Katie, and Don Miguel Ruiz—inviting me to precious moments of self-reflection and deep learning. Their teaching helped me to let go of old thinking patterns and cultural limiting beliefs that didn’t serve me well.
After much trial and error applying their wisdom to my life, I have found a new sense of freedom. Here’s how:
1. I’ve let go of the need to be perfect.
I am perfectly beautiful and beautifully imperfect, and this is what allows me to be me.
Perfection is an illusion—it doesn’t exist. I stopped stressing myself out trying to be perfect and now I am always aiming for “good enough.” I have learned to embrace my mistakes as much needed opportunities for growth, blessings in disguise that make me wiser. If I fail at anything, it doesn’t mean I’m a failure, because I am not what I do. Sometimes we win, sometimes we learn. We never lose.
“Your best is going to change from moment to moment: it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret.” ~Don Miguel Ruiz
2. I’ve let go of the need to be busy all the time.
Being in a rush isn’t a sign of virtue. I have learned to listen to my body, and I no longer feel guilty for doing nothing. I know I sometimes need to recharge the batteries of my body and soul, and I don’t feel like I owe anyone any explanation for doing that.
If I don’t have time for myself, I make it. Watching a good movie, listening to relaxing music, reading a good book, singing, taking a walk to connect with nature—I do whatever makes my heart sing.
“I am a human being, not a human doing. Don’t equate your self-worth with how well you do things in life. You aren’t what you do. If you are what you do, then when you don’t…you aren’t.” ~Dr. Wayne Dyer
3. I’ve let go of self-criticism.
I pay attention to my inner talk; I don’t call myself names, and I treat myself with dignity and respect. I stopped telling myself things I would never tell a good friend. I am enough, whole, and complete.
I have come to understand that in life, we don’t get what we want. We get what we think we deserve. That’s why it’s necessary to believe in ourselves and see ourselves as enough and worthy of the best things life has to offer.
“You’ve been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.” ~Louise Hay