The Tyranny of Perfection: What Would Trees Think About Us?


I met a woman recently who was worried she was going to lose her man if she didn't get a botox treatment. I told her not to change herself for him - but she assured me that where she lived, in Hollywood, it was different. That in Hollywood, you have to be young and beautiful and flawless to get and keep a man. It was an endless game, a quest to improve what was already perfect to begin with.

We got into a discussion about plastic surgery - about whether to get 'real' looking breast implants or 'fake' looking implants. She had the 'real' looking ones but was considering going back in for the 'fake' looking ones because she didn't want her boobs to move - at all. She wanted them to be perfect Barbie boobs so they always stayed perky. She seemed to fear having a bad boob day like some fear a bad hair day and thought the second surgery would make bad boob days impossible.

The conversation we shared reminded me of a quote that recently came across my desk:

When you go out into the woods and you look at trees, you see all these different trees. And some of them are bent, and some of them are straight, and some of them are evergreens, and some of them are whatever. And you look at the tree and you allow it. You appreciate it. You see why it is the way it is. You sort of understand that it didn't get enough light, and so it turned that way. And you don't get all emotional about it. You just allow it. You appreciate the tree.

The minute you get near humans, you lose all that. And you are constantly saying "You're too this, or I'm too this." That judging mind comes in. And so I practice turning people into trees. Which means appreciating them just the way they are. - Ram Dass

Beautiful thought, isn't it? What if we could see people as trees - beautiful with all their perfect imperfections? Better yet - what if we could see ourselves as trees? What if we could look in the mirror and see our wrinkles and remember a life well-lived? See our freckles and remember how much fun we had that day at the beach? See our cellulite and thank our thighs for the cushioning they provide us? See our bellies and thank them for carrying our beautiful children and digesting our nourishing food? When was the last time you did that?


Do you want to look in the mirror and love what you see? Really and truly embrace all of you - just the way you are? As a psychologist and BodyLove expert, here's what I know: we have to change the way we see others, the way we see ourselves. Here's your challenge for today:

  1. Go spend some time with the trees. Admire them - all their curves, edges and 'imperfections'. Then go people watch. Admire them - all their curves, edges, and imperfections. Don't judge them - just look, admire, and sit in awe of the many different ways we of the same species can look.
  2. Say something nice to someone - compliment them, tell them they are beautiful.
  3. Now do the same thing for yourself. Stand in front of the mirror and look at yourself - at all your perfect imperfections - without judgement, or criticism. Just look - take it all in. Observe the miracle that is your body. That is you.
  4. Look in the mirror right into your eyes and give yourself a heartfelt compliment. Bonus points if you can do that several times today. Super bonus points if you can look yourself in the eye and say, "I love you. You are beautiful."

Will the very act of thinking and saying nice things to others change your perceptions of them? Over time, yes, it will. And will doing the same thing for yourself make you happier with yourself as is? You bet!

Here's my wish for you: may you start to see others as we see trees - different, beautiful, with their wrinkles, lines, and curves telling the story of their lives. And may you begin to see yourself the same way: different, beautiful, uniquely you.

If you struggle with this very idea, I hope you'll join me for my free video interview series: Embrace All of You: Where Goddess and Body Meet. Because you are beautiful - just the way you are. Isn't it time you started to see that?