We are somehow becoming a society of people who believe, promote, and encourage the idea that if we want to be seen as successful, worthwhile, and valuable human beings we need to be perfect in every way.
For one reason or another there’s the idea out there (and in here) that in order to feel really good about who we are we need to be outstanding, awe-inspiring, limitless, totally beyond reproach, and flawless. To say the least.
Now that is a LOT of pressure.
Trying our darndest to prove to ourselves and others we are perfect.
What perfectionism seems to be doing is creating the gnawing feeling that we need to be someone or something we’re not in order to feel good about who we are and how our lives seem to be going.
And try as hard as we might to become some fictional and seemingly perfect version of ourselves, we are left only to feel a whole heap of discouragement, anger, guilt, depression, and frustration when we realized we just can’t do it. We can’t be this seemingly perfect version of ourselves – at least not for more than an hour or two… And even THAT’S pretty hard.
Oh, and then we get angry with and punish ourselves for not being able to become the impossible.
Perfectionism is a sneaky bugger though. It’s not always obvious when and how it rears its big old head, but it does have a way of getting right in there and working really hard to convince us of some pretty unfair, pretty mean and pretty nasty, big fat lies about ourselves.
And here are its top 3 major deceivers:
1. Once you are perfect people will like you more.
Because people only like those who are perfect. Right?
Ok, so what would that look like? Someone who’s perfect does everything right, has success after success (obviously without ever having had any type of setback), looks impeccable all the time, never feels anything but roses and sunshine, and handles any and every challenge with total ease and grace.
Perhaps this may sound lovely, but would you really want to be friends with someone like that? How would you relate to them? Where’s the humanness in them? Where’s their vulnerability? Sure you might admire them, but is it possible to feel closely connected to someone like this?
The truth is if we are never vulnerable or real with anyone (aka sharing our struggles), or them with us, it’s actually not possible to have any sort of deep or meaningful mutually beneficial relationship.
And if we’re prancing around being perfect all the time perhaps we will receive praise and admiration from many, but true connection and closeness from none.
I don’t know about you, but I sure like people more when I can relate to them on areal and deep level. When I’m struggling, I don’t really want to hear about how my friend over there never has any challenges or setbacks of their own. THAT does not make me feel closer or connected to them – just more like a failure
2. Once you are perfect you will like yourself immeasurably more and have so much self-confidence you won’t know what to do with it all.
This is a nasty one that perfectionism tries so desperately hard to convince us of, and is actually pretty darn successful much of the time.
As a mental health counsellor, I hear it time and time again: Once I’m stronger, more successful, more powerful, more attractive, wealthier, skinnier, stronger, have a nicer car, bigger house etcetera etcetera etcetera… I will feel so good about myself, and will have an endless supply of happiness and well-being at my disposal.
But here’s the clincher – perfectionism will work its hardest to have you believe once you change or achieve x, y, or z the door to total self-confidence will finally be opened and you will bask in its glory. But the truth is, self-confidence is completely founded, based on, and flourishes in that which is the exact opposite.
The essence of confidence is founded and flourishes in the acceptance of ourselves for exactly who we are. Flaws and all! Yes, it’s true. Flaws and all.
It’s about being able to say: “Nope, not perfect. But that’s okay! I’m good enough just the way I am, and sure there are things I’d like to work on, and I am doing that, but this doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with me, it just means I, like everyone else, am a growing, discovering, and learning human being.”
3. Once you’re perfect you will finally be totally happy and completely fulfilled and satisfied with your life.
Again, yes, you guessed it: This too is a lie. AND if we believe that lie, we will actually never, ever be happy, or satisfied, or feel fulfilled. ever.
Life is what’s happening now. And if we’re waiting for ourselves to become perfect before we can allow ourselves to enjoy the good right here in and around us, we are going to blink and miss it all.
We, and I mean ALL of us, have flaws. That’s normal. And in case it’s not clear yet, that’s actually good.
We all struggle and sometimes it’s messy. I mean really messy. But that too is normal. And it’s okay. Life is sometimes hard and we all struggle and go through tough times.
And life is often really good too. And dare I say, a lot better than we might allow ourselves to recognize and appreciate?
So enough is enough. We need to stand up to perfectionism and give it a run for its money by turning to it and saying:
“Not this day! I’m good the way I am. I’m not perfect, I never will be, and that’s okay! I have flaws and I also have many, many wonderful and beautiful qualities about myself, and I will now start allowing myself to appreciate them.”
I bet if we stopped focusing on and being mildly (or majorly) obsessed with the things perfectionism tries to trick us in to believing, and Instead, started focusing on and celebrating the things that are good, great, and right with us, perfectionism wouldn’t quite know what to do with itself.
Even if you don’t consider yourself a perfectionist, has perfectionism ever tried to sneak in and get you to believe something that just wasn’t true?