Thursday, 11 April 2013

The struggle for perfection

On my home from work yesterday, I had a great epiphany - I am not perfect. My body isn't perfect. My soul isn't perfect. My looks aren't perfect. My house isn't perfect. My husband isn't perfect. My friends aren't perfect. My job isn't perfect. My cat isn't perfect. How has it taken me nearly 38 years to suddenly get this?
I don't know about you but I've always strived for perfection. As a perfectionist, that's what my kind does. We beat ourselves up when we're not perfect. We beat ourselves up when others aren't perfect. We beat ourselves up when life is not perfect. Somehow, we chose perfection as our vice which is futile because it simply does not exist.

I've always known that life wasn't perfect but I thought that was just my life but it isn't. Funnily enough, I don't know anyone who is perfect or has the perfect life. I'm willing to bet even Mother Theresa had her imperfections. So if I know perfection doesn't exist, why do I believe I should be perfect? Why do I get upset when I look at others, convinced they have the perfect life, when I know they don't? What is perfection anyway?

Everyone has their own version of perfection. For some, it’s physical beauty. For some, it’s prim and proper behaviour. For some, it’s a car with no dings in it. For some, it’s a child that sits there looking pretty and only speaks when spoken to. But whatever it is, it’s really just about reality looking like the picture in our head. If it doesn’t, it’s not perfect.

The simple fact is perfectionists equate perfection with acceptance. If I'm perfect you'll accept me. You'll like me. You might even love me. You'll think I'm ok and if you think I'm ok then maybe I can think I'm ok. If I'm not perfect you won’t like me. You won’t love me. You won’t think I'm ok. You will judge me like I judge myself. I won’t think I’m ok. It shouldn't be like that. I should think I am ok just as I am and not give a damn what you think but how many of us really think like that? Not too many.

I can be really harsh and cruel to myself sometimes. I can beat myself up with my failings so severely that the little child within me is left cowering in the corner feeling abused, unloved, unwanted and ashamed. Why? Because I’m human.

Being human means we make mistakes, learn, experience, grow and love. Where was it ever written that we’re not allowed to give ourselves permission to do that in a loving, accepting and nourishing environment?

Somewhere along the path of my life, I was taught I wasn’t good enough just as I am. I’m sure I’m not the only person out there who thinks that. I had people reject me, tease me, leave me and betray me. But why do I need to reject, tease, leave and betray myself? I don’t. I could never imagine being the kind of mother who would say to my child “Why did you do that? You’re so stupid. When are you ever going to learn? Everyone will hate you now.” But I have no trouble in saying it to myself. I cannot tell you how heartbreaking that realisation is to me.

So, what do I do about that? Clearly, I need to reprogram my brain and I have started on that. I need to be mindful of the thoughts that are floating through my brain and stop the ones that lead me down that unaccepting path. I know that’s easier said than done but I do have tricks to do that so it’s really about implementing them.

When my child arrives, I want them to know how special, beautiful, unique and loved they are. For every minute they are alive on this Earth, I want them to know how much their existence is wanted and appreciated. I will tell them it’s ok to make mistakes because that’s how we learn some of our greatest lessons. I will tell them it’s ok to love themselves for no other reason than they deserve to be loved. I will tell them they are not perfect but it’s their imperfections that make them special. I will tell them how much I love and cherish every single imperfection about them because the fact they are here is all the perfection I need. It seems so simple to me that I could do that as a Mother but clearly, I need to practice on myself first.

Image by Stuart Miles
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  1. I struggle with being kind to myself too. It's the most important thing because the way we feel about ourselves and own situation sets the bar for how we handle these situations and our feelings about them. Good for you for recognizing this about yourself and working toward being nicer to yourself. You are a good person and couldn't get further from stupid. You deserve love from yourself and others, you deserve time to heal and time feel. It's great to hear you are going to try and give yourself a break from trying to reach unrealistic perfection. You are perfect just the way you are.

  2. Thanks so much for your lovely comment. I'm trying very hard to remember that!



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