Have you ever tried to be perfect? Have the perfect body, perfect skin, be the perfect partner, employee, student—the list goes on and on. What is it about perfection that makes us chase after it?
What is perfection?
Perfectionism is an unattainable goal that’s driven by fear, shame and the way we want to be perceived. According to one of my woman crushes Dr. Brene Brown, it is “is a self-destructive and addictive belief system that fuels this primary thought: “’If I look perfect, live perfectly, and do everything perfectly, I can avoid or minimize the painful feelings of shame, judgment, and blame.’” I think we’ve all struggled with perfection in some way, form or fashion, myself included.
I struggled with being perfect in many areas—primarily in romantic relationships. I remember being afraid to voice my thoughts, feelings, wants and needs or make mistakes or say the wrong thing because I feared confrontation, being seen as someone I’m not, being left or hurt. This left me overwhelmed, overthinking, overly stressed, just over everything. I felt like I was walking on eggshells with every step I took and it was very draining!
The downside of perfection
In a world where we strive to be perfect, we block out the things we truly crave, such as joy, love, and connection and fill ourselves with fear, unnecessary stress, gray hairs, and wrinkles; unrealistic expectations and the need to control.
All of this is exhausting and keeps us from growing by obsessing over our flaws. We start to procrastinate, have creative blocks and not think clearly. There have been numerous times where my thoughts were clouded because I was scared of doing or saying the wrong thing where I wound up confusing my damn self and acting in an inauthentic way. This all leads up to unhappiness and misery. Not only do you put your happiness on the line, there are other problems you can develop as well:
- Issues falling asleep
- Having headaches
- Developing heart disease
- Engaging in compulsive eating
- Refusing to let go of control, mistakes, and imperfections
Why you shouldn’t worry about being perfect
What I’ve learned (and still learning) is that living this way is unnatural and much more stressful on myself, the other person or people and the relationships than it is beneficial. Perfection is like armor that we wear to keep us protected. And I get it protection makes us feel safe and who doesn’t want to feel safe. With that all being said you shouldn’t worry about it.
- Life is too short
We’ve all heard this saying before, but it’s very true. Life is too short to be going around bottled up in fear trying to avoid making a mistake. Can you really see yourself going through life like that forever? It’s like holding your breath. And it’s time to exhale *exhales*. Ahh, imagine the relief.
- Too much pressure
There are already enough things in the world to worry about, so we don’t need to add any unnecessary weight on us—and a lot of it is unnecessary.
- Mistakes are inevitable
Let’s just face it mistakes are going to happen. Perfection is a mistake in itself because you aren’t being you and living life at its best. Yes, they’re scary and unpredictable, but that’s where our learning and growing comes from—our mistakes.
Instead, focus on:
- Saying no
This is difficult for many of us including me to do because we want to please the people in our lives even if we break our back in the process. We don’t want them to be angered or disappointed at us, so we shut up, smile and do what they say even though what we really want to say is hell no!
But, we have the right to protect and honor our boundaries and the things we do and do not want to do. Some people won’t like it and will even think you’re being selfish, they’re wrong. Saying no is not selfish it’s selfull.
- Stop fearing failure
I don’t really believe that we fear failure. Speaking from personal experience, I believe what we truly fear is things not going the way we want or expect them to be and equate that to failure. However, the real failure is when we don’t dare to try in the first place. Things aren’t always going to pan out the way you want. That’s just the reality of it and needs to be accepted. So, if you’re really afraid of failing, make a move. And if you don’t succeed there are two things you gained from the experience:
- You’ve learned what you can do differently, and
- You get to try again.
- Being yourself
A great philosopher by the name of Dr. Seuss once said, “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” Dr. Seuss knew what he was talking about. There is no need to be anything or anyone other than you. So embrace it! Inside and out. Flaws and all. Who you are is absolutely enough.
Perfection is safe and that’s the seductive part about it. You don’t have to be perfect to be loved or liked; or to create, grow and maintain healthy relationships. Give yourself a break and be yourself. Your perfectly imperfect self and that is perfectly fine. If you make a mistake, good! You learned something. Now you can get up and try again.
After I noticed my pattern of people pleasing and how that affected me I made a pledge. And that pledge is to give myself permission to be human and to honor me by not allowing the fear of failure and disappointment (and not beating myself up about it if things don’t go the way I want them to) keep me from doing what I want to do. Being who I’m supposed to be—myself and loving it knowing that’s just enough.
Do I have setbacks? Hell yeah. Are my setbacks as bad as they used to be? Hell no. And now I’m much more at peace than I was before.