At work one of my responsibilities is editing the academic journal submissions the faculty and residents are planning to submit for publication. The first time I edit a paper for someone you can see them cringe at all of the red marks. As I go through the paper with them, however, they realize they are still brilliant and they have simply repeated the same type of error throughout the text. Which is the perfect allegory for tying to changes one's life.
I have discovered that all of my less than desirable qualities can be summed up in one word: FEAR. I'm not talking about the fear you feel if you think someone is breaking in or if you attempt to go to Costco the day before a holiday. I'm talking about a subtle fear that enables you to come up with all kinds of excuses and unhealthy coping mechanisms rather than be at peace with who you are and have the courage to let other people see that person. Fear has enabled me to be really friendly while only allowing a tiny few past arms length, it has helped me to try and bury unpleasant feelings, and has fooled me into thinking that listening to it was keeping me safe. Fear creates so many distractions that at times I have forgotten about how many ways I could be serving those around me. And so I have worked very hard to change my internal dialogue. When old destructive thoughts come in to my head I tell myself that I don't think that way anymore and FEAR cowers away. I'm not perfect at it yet, but I can't fully explain how liberating it is to have moments of being at complete peace with myself. (Oddly, I have never been afraid to speak in public, which is a fear most people have. So take that fear!)
Perhaps you are a very brave person that can't relate to my battles with fear. But maybe for you it is struggling with forgiveness, or selfishness, or laziness, or some other area that my beleaguered brain has lost the ability to come up with. What I believe is this: we are all so incredibly clever that we keep coming up with creative new ways to manifest the same problem over and over again. We just dress it up in new clothes and then wonder how we keep having to learn the same lessons.
Being perfect for me is not about wearing a smaller size, making more money, or knowing if there is "one thing" that I was meant to do in my life. (Although all of that would be lovely.) Instead it is setting aside fear, embracing faith, and loving those I come in contact with...which includes me.