How can we be perfect and have so many shortcomings?
Before I begin, I want to dismiss some semantic arguments about the notion of shortcomings.
I am of the opinion that we are indeed perfect. So how is it possible to be both perfect and have shortcomings? Actually, we don’t have shortcomings (as most people define them,) but if I started there, I wouldn’t have anything to write. Since most humans experience themselves as having shortcomings — or they experience other people in their lives having shortcomings — we need to understand what shortcomings are. Once we understand what they are, we can move towards creating a more ideal life.
We were born perfect, what happened?
Most people believe that babies are perfect. Fewer believe that all adults are perfect. The notion is that everyone started perfect, but with time we kind of pick up crap and at some point, we were no longer perfect. Or perhaps, as time chugs along, and demands are faced, we find that we were only perfect at sucking teat, but not in facing the demands of the real world. Some people think they are perfect while at the same time feeling far from it. Some people look around and see the mess we create and decide we could never have been perfect in the first place!
I want to suggest that we were born perfect and that we are all still perfect! Yes, something happens to us and we look far less perfect as adults than as children. But I will show you why that is. And knowing that, can make your life a lot easier! But being perfect doesn’t mean that we don’t want some things different in our lives. Being perfect doesn’t mean we aren’t motivated to change things. Being perfect doesn’t mean that we aren’t still making messes and want to learn how not to.
Human beings are always moving, growing, learning, expanding and ultimately changing (or dying.) What we need for one period of our development is often vestigial as we move into another. When we are young, we need to depend on others, and we are naturally afraid when left alone. This particular trait isn’t so useful when we are older.
Children choose their way to be to get their needs met.
When we are little, our minds are like sponges converting experiences into ‘meaning.’ Something happened … what does it mean? What does it mean? Our little brain makes all kinds of decisions about what things mean. Good experiences, bad experiences, neutral experiences — all are converted into rules and meaning for a child. If this happens, then this will happen – and it means this about me, other people, the world — and based on those rules/beliefs/choices, my best way to get by is acting this way. Our very survival demands us to figure out what to do! So “what does this mean” is the first step towards survival.
As children, we may choose to be competitive, aggressive, assertive, strident or superior in order to meet the challenges we face. We may choose to be shy, invisible, dependent, reckless, self-damaging, moody, fearful or any variety of other ways to be. At the time, these choices ‘worked’ for us — or we would have made different ones. ‘Worked’ as a child means ‘our way‘ gave us the best chance (that we could see) of getting our needs met. Or our way made the most sense to our little brains based on the meaning we gave the events (events have no intrinsic meaning.) When we are little, our beliefs worked for us — our responses made some kind of sense. It is easier to see a child’s perfection when their actions and responses correlate to the world around them.
Adults see no choices.
By the time we become adults, these choices have long ago receded into habit. We are not aware of those choices; we are not aware, nor can we generally see our ‘way of being‘ in the world. We are ‘stuck’ with these choices as the sheer amount of conditioning in the brain has worn deep grooves and created memory maps that dictate our actions and reactions to most stimuli. Our choice of ‘way’ as a child has created who we think we ‘are’ in the present. Although we still assign meaning to the events in our life, we generally don’t think about what events ‘mean’ anymore; new events are made to fit into patterns from our pre-existing memory maps and the ‘meaning’ is already attached — so is our response to that pattern. Our reactions and responses to the world are not correlated to what is happening any more. Our actions and responses are correlated to maps from childhood.
Shortcomings are really symptoms of limiting beliefs.
These ‘ways-of-being’ are thus connected to what is known as limiting beliefs. What we know to be ‘True’ as a child, or what we take for granted as a child forms the basis for our conditioning. Things like, I am weak, I am stupid, others are more important, nothing good lasts forever, you can’t get what you want, etc. All that ‘meaning-making’ as children are distilled into beliefs that we don’t even know that we believe. We mostly don’t have conscious access to our beliefs. In fact, our conscious beliefs are often in conflict with our unconscious beliefs. As a child, we may believe that woman are weak — but as an adult, we know differently. However, that child belief, attached to the pattern-matching in our brain, means that we will respond with our early pre-determined responses to other woman in our lives.
A shortcoming, is a ‘way of being’ or ‘choice-belief-decision’ from our past that creates undesired results in our lives today. All of our shortcomings are connected to a decision/belief of how to be in the world. Decisions we made as children, regardless of how well they worked, don’t work so well in the present. And, even if they did work, we aren’t ‘choosing’ them now. We are operating largely automatically.
So shortcomings are really just the symptoms of a belief or ‘way of being’ that has outlived its usefulness (is limiting us now.) When we see a shortcoming in ourselves or others, what looks like a flaw is really just the symptom of a limiting belief.
Even what people might consider a negative character trait is the result of a limiting belief. There are really no negative character traits, no character flaws — only consequences of our limiting beliefs.
Limiting beliefs (or shortcomings) are the only reason we have things we don’t want in our lives; we could easily create anything we want in our lives if it were not for our limiting beliefs.
Adults are still just as perfect as children, only the world they live in doesn’t fit the beliefs they are carrying. The results they get in life are often not what they want. And being grown up presents a new set of demands, initiations and desires that the old beliefs systems were not designed to handle. So of course, adults can look and feel broken when their programming isn’t optimized for their current environment!
We all have lots of Limiting Beliefs. They are what makes our lives more difficult. How do we get rid of them?
Next article I will discuss how to deal with Limiting Beliefs so that you can get more of what you want in life.