These days so many of us feel under pressure to be perfect. Social media and the Internet have a lot to answer for! Now people can showcase their lives, making everything look ‘perfect’, from their relationships and job down to the food on their plates. It’s really hard not to compare yourself, and when you do that it tends to invite self-criticism. But so called ‘perfection’ isn’t everything. If you can be happy with imperfection you’ll be much more contended.
In the following we look at:
- Negative aspects to perfectionism
NEGATIVE THINGS ABOUT PERFECTIONISM
If you compare yourself to others you can’t help feeling you’re falling short. Even if you can be smug about your house and family, some celebrity with a perfect body can make you feel glum. It’s hard to look beyond the airbrushed images of people who look perfect and realise that’s not reality. Impossible standards can send you into a negative spiral, leading to depression and low self-esteem. But there are many good things about so-called imperfection so take them on board and set yourself free from stereotypes.
If your self-esteem is fragile you may subconsciously boost it by being critical of others. If other people don’t measure up then you can feel ok – but only for a short while. Deep inside you know that critical attitude can be applied to you, and it makes you uneasy.
Instead try to be empathic. Enter into the feelings of someone who is very ‘imperfect’ and realise how hard it must be for them. Be encouraging – loving, even. See them as creatures that are doing their best, learning and improving. Realise also that their so-called ‘imperfections’ are part of their journey. And what you see as an imperfection could be valuable on their life path and that of others. For instance, someone who is disabled is giving others the chance to be caring. Everyone has their place, and everyone deserves to be loved.
Are you trying to conform to an ideal set by your family, or society, or just that critical parent voice inside you? Maybe you need to question that very sternly. It’s a good idea to try to be your best, but that ‘best’ must be a standard that truly means something to you, not a weight you carry.
No living thing is perfect, and yet in another way, they all are. For instance each tree is beautiful and perfect in its own way. It may help to see yourself as a baby, trying to walk. This is not to give yourself the message that you’re immature, but to create a picture of how you look in the eyes of the Divine. The baby is in no way imperfect because he or she stumbles – she’s on a path of development. On that path she’s beautiful, and perfect in her way. So are you.
ACCEPT YOUR LIMITATIONS
There’s a little saying that maybe you could throw out of the window. It goes ‘A thing worth doing is worth doing well’. Actually, a thing worth doing is also worth doing badly.
So don’t talk yourself out of doing something because it isn’t going to be perfect. Can’t go to the gym for an hour? Go for a ten minute walk rather than feeling bad because you can’t exercise. Can’t make a lovely meal? Settle for baked potato and salad rather than giving up altogether and chomping a packet of biscuits. Can’t do the garden? Put in a few flowers and look at them, not the weeds.
Practice mindfulness by really being in the now, and relishing its loveliness. You’ll find there’s more to appreciate than you think.
Why not become a bit of a rebel and throw away those standards of perfection? How will it feel if you’re casual, a little selfish, if you leave those ‘important’ tasks and go off to do something you enjoy? Take another viewpoint if you can, and ask yourself what it’s all about. Who ever said to themselves on their deathbed that they wished they done everything properly? That they regretted not keeping their house spotless, their paperwork up to date, their hair do flawless? Who wishes they’d run round more after a demanding friend who never said thank you, or stayed longer at work – just to be a goody-goody?
The answer to that is nobody. The regrets we have are about not living fully, not treasuring each moment, not acting and speaking from our hearts. So set yourself free with a little imperfection and see it as a gift.
MAKE AWARENESS A HABIT
Put your ‘imperfectionism’ into practice by becoming very aware of yourself. Think about your choices, your habits, your reactions and question how much they are based upon an ideal of perfection. Be as mindful as you can, staying in the moment and experiencing its quality, its imperfect perfection. Meditate on the subject of self-acceptance and self value.
Above all, do more of what you enjoy and love, love, love every thing and every person that you can, starting with yourself. Real love is impossible unless you first love and truly value yourself – and that starts with accepting your imperfection.
HOW WE CAN HELP
We have looked at all the disadvantages of perfectionism and seen how you can avoid these by accepting others, accepting yourself, accepting limitations, living imperfectly and making awareness a habit. This can set you on the road to loving yourself and letting go of preoccupation with perfection. Life wounds can get in the way of self-acceptance, however, and sometimes that compulsion to try to be perfect is very powerful. That’s where our insightful Readers come in with their expert help and advice. If you’re at all unsure, just call today and feel so much more satisfied with yourself.
PUBLISHED: 15 September 2017