February 22

Phrases that Mislead, Part 2

February 22, 2016

Personal Growth

In Real Love groups, conference calls, and other interactions, certain phrases have crept into use that are not consistent with the principles of Real Love, or that might cause confusion by their use. Recently I began a discussion of such phrases
Phases that Mislead Part 1,
and now we’ll continue. In this blog we will discuss one such phrase, and in subsequent blogs we’ll talk about some others.

WE'RE ALL PERFECT AS WE ARE

In support groups, in self-help literature, and in some New Thought religions, it is common to use the expression, “We’re all perfect as we are.”

Justifications

Justifications for this claim are understandable and include the following, which are simply stated, not claimed as truths:

  • God made us. God is perfect, and we are one of his creations, so we must be perfect also.
  • There is a perfect plan in the universe orchestrated by a Perfect Being, so we are perfect by virtue of being part of that perfect plan
  • If we tend to become what we think of ourselves, believing that we are perfect would motivate us toward perfection. This would be one form of “positive thinking.”
  • It is ungodly and unkind to think of others as imperfect, so the same reasoning would apply to us.
  • We simply don’t like talking about our flaws, so “we’re perfect” is a great way to avoid that discussion.

The Flaws

As tempting as these justifications and reasons might be, the flaws are glaring:

  • However perfect God is, the greatest law in the universe is the Law of Choice. He created us with a desire to grow toward perfection, but He will not interfere with our ability to choose, which means we can—and almost invariably do—choose imperfectly. We are, therefore, NOT perfect, even though we may be growing in that direction.
  • Even the most cursory observation of human beings—either in the present or from history—reveals an abundance of murderers, thieves, warmongers, and others whose behavior could not possibly be claimed to be “perfect.”
  • If we refer to ourselves or our behavior as “perfect” when it’s not, we’re stuck in a position where we can never learn or grow, since our perfection requires no learning.
  • It’s not “unkind” to refer to ourselves as imperfect. Rather, it is simply the truth.

These claims to perfection are well-meaning, but they’re simply not true and therefore interfere with everything based on the truth: learning, growth, the perception of unconditional love, and more. This phrase or belief may have begun with what many of our mothers or grandmothers taught us: “If you can’t say something nice about somebody, say nothing at all.” So, rather than be rendered mute, we came up with “We’re all perfect as we are.”

We also have a human tendency to see things as we wish them to be, rather than as they are.

We are much better served by correctly and rigorously identifying things as they actually are than as we wish them to be. I can choose to be “positive” and believe that I can jump across a fifty-foot chasm—which likely will result in my death—or I can accept my “imperfection” and learn how to create a rope bridge between the two cliffs.

So what can we do with this phrase about our perfection?

We could eliminate it entirely—not a bad idea considering its inaccuracy—or we could modify it in way that could possibly be useful:

  • Although we’re not perfect, we can always choose to move toward perfection in whatever circumstances we find ourselves.
  • Some of our mistakes—by definition imperfections—make us stronger. Just as our physical muscles grow with stress, so can our emotional trials—often resulting from our flaws—strengthen us toward perfection.
  • When we find genuine happiness, it is possible that our path to that condition was perfect for us, despite a great many imperfect decisions and circumstances along the way.

In future blogs we’ll discuss more phrases that can be misleading in our discussions of Real Love.

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