Little angry boy frowning.

I was talking to a client last night and by the end of the conversation, I was choking back tears of happiness.  

Let’s call my client Tammy. I’ve known Tammy for at least 10 years. She is an accomplished businesswoman and comes across vibrant and amazing. She called to share with me that she finally figured out she matters; that she’s enough; that she’s perfect just the way she is. I never would’ve guessed she had any doubt about that, but we can’t often tell what is going on with the people around us who we admire and adore. I’m just glad she realized it. 

Tammy grew up with a Mom who she experienced as highly critical, so she learned to please her. She did what she was told, which mostly included making herself quieter, smaller, unobtrusive so that her Mother could shine.  

However, Tammy wanted to live OUT LOUD — to live VIBRANTLY! But when she did that at the ages of 3, and 4, and 5, her mother would get angry and scold her and tell her to sit down and be quiet. Tammy learned that if she wanted her Mother’s love, she must shrink to get it.

Unfortunately, Tammy didn’t just apply that “learned” behavior to her relationship with her mother. As she grew up, she applied that behavior to every relationship because she had learned that if she outshined someone she loved, they would take their love away. So, that “learned” behavior just became part of her identity — of who she knew herself to be. “I’m just shy,” she would say.

Over the last two months, Tammy has been attending some of the workshops I’ve been leading. I was humbled and genuinely happy by the difference the workshops were making in her life.  

“I finally realize that I matter. What’s important to me is living vibrantly, not pleasing my Mother. I’m giving myself permission to not be perfect,” she said.

“Just be you. You’re enough. You are perfect just the way you are,” I told her.

I went on to ask what her parents were saying to her, in her head, over and over again.  

“’What’s the matter with you??’ is what I hear them saying all the time to me,” she responded.

“What’s a positive affirmation you can turn that into,” I asked.

With missing a beat, she responded: 

“There is nothing wrong with me. I am perfect just the way I am.”

That’s the part that made me cry. Tammy understood what I knew all along - she was perfect just the way she was.

See, no one “has” to be perfect. We don’t have to try to match that perfect picture we have of ourselves, or we think others have of us, or we think society expects of us.

You don’t have to try to be perfect at all, because you already are. 

Just be you. That’s enough.

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About The Author

Jen Coken's picture

Jen Coken is an author, life coach, and comedian who wants to live in a world where you’re free to be yourself and achieve your soul’s purpose—a vision that has driven her work as a Coach, Speaker, Author, Comedian for more than 20 years.

Drawing on three decades of experience as a non-profit leader and grassroots organizer, Jen helps CEOs and entrepreneurs overcome their self-made limitations and do their heart’s work.

But Jen’s impact doesn’t end there: She spent six years on the Denver stand-up comedy circuit and brings a sense of humor to every topic she addresses, including the experience of coping with her mother's diagnosis and death from ovarian cancer.

Jen’s book, "When I Die, Take My Panties: Turning Your Darkest Moments into Your Greatest Gifts" chronicles that experience and shares Jen’s core message that everything that comes our way is meant to teach us about ourselves.

When she’s not crafting bestselling books or speaking to audiences around the country, you can find Jen eating Nutella by the spoonful in the nearest grocery aisle.

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