Perfection Robs You

…of your wholeness. Yes, your wholeness.

I see this again and again. The client who has to have everything be perfect. The colleague who can’t let go and say “good enough” when “good enough” is already excellent. The family member who demands so much that the family is at times held hostage by the perfectionist’s standards, or saddened by seeing the tension the perfectionist is causing him/herself. This quest for perfection is eventually debilitating – working invisibly inside of you, causing tension, doubt, and suffering.

For some, perfection is a habit that they haven’t been able to reflect on and examine (and this is key). For others, it’s a drive that was instilled in them long, long ago (therefore, requires reflection). For others, it’s a constant mission – for the sake of their own sense of safety and self esteem. And yet for others, it’s a drive to an impossibility, where they’ve set themselves up to constantly fall short, because the vision is too grandiose and, therefore, paralyzing.

We’ve all had people like this in our lives, and maybe even we are one of these perfection-seeking types ourselves. When you are on the outside looking in, watching the perfectionist in action or being on the receiving end of perfectionism, it is clear how much suffering this perfectionist mindset causes. When you are on the inside, feeling this need to be perfect, you may also feel the prison you have erected for yourself. A house of cards, but perfectionists may believe this construction is real.

Guess what. No one is perfect. Part of life is learning to be resilient. To learn that, one must fail, feel set back, and learn from one’s actions and assumptions. The more we have setbacks, the more we can have breakthroughs, and the more we can learn how resilient we are. So much richness is available to us when we can give ourselves permission to be imperfect! We can learn so much from our less-than-accomplishments. Great learning can happen if we put ourselves in a place of ‘not-knowing’~allowing ourselves to really learn.

This takes humility, a willingness to plod along at times, ask for help, and accept certain realities ~ especially this one: You are not perfect. And this one: You cannot control everything. And when it doesn’t work, running away also doesn’t work.

When you do everything you can to control outcomes, you show that you don’t trust yourself enough to watch things unfold and respond accordingly. When you are always focused on controlling things, you likely miss the rich inputs of others, their insights, challenges, and their precious ability to disagree with you or point out – egads! – a better way. Guess what? I don’t think you can be remarkable if you are not working on your own resilience and wholeness.

Believe it or not, you have the chance to develop yourself until you leave this earth – why not take full advantage of the fullness of life, let yourself be vulnerable? Try it in small steps to start – and stand back and watch yourself bloom! You might learn a lot more, and with progressively more wiggle room, you may feel like a prison break ~ from your self-imposed prison ~ is possible.


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