Stop trying to be perfect.
Stop trying to be perfect. What is perfect anyway? The definition of perfect is having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics; as good as it is possible to be. Such a lovely definition for the right person.
I work a lot with young people and the chase to be perfect often causes much mental trauma. However, what one person will see as perfect, another will judge. We often fear being judged by others but unfortunately we are already being judged. The sooner we can understand that we are being judged now, whether you are happy, sad, fat, skinny, short, tall, rich, poor, friendly or complicated, the sooner we can leave trying to strive for perfect go.
I teach my clients how to ‘Have their own back‘ and one area to master is letting go of being perfect and to embrace imperfections. Accept that you are not perfect. EVER!!!! No one is perfect. We should stop telling children, especially teenagers they are perfect because they try to live up to an expectation that they must look perfect, eat perfect, behave perfect and perform perfectly every time. This is impossible. What you think is perfect – someone else will judge and children are not silly. They see other children and they compare themselves – it’s natural. They see what happens in the media – it’s around them all the time. Everyone has faults and that is part of being human. Just because I love my children exactly the way they are – I shouldn’t expect them to do the same. There is nothing wrong with wanting to evolve, to grow, to develop strengths and work hard on improving weaknesses. There is also nothing wrong with accepting that you are not as good at something as your friends.
This is impossible. What you think is perfect – someone else will judge and children are not silly. They see other children and they compare themselves – it’s natural. Comparison is where many young people begin creating their own identity. They see what happens in the media – it’s around them all the time. Everyone has faults and that is part of being human. Just because I love my children exactly the way they are – I shouldn’t expect them to do the same. There is nothing wrong with wanting to evolve, to grow, to develop strengths and work hard on improving weaknesses. There is also nothing wrong with accepting that you are not as good at something as your friends. Teaching young people to embrace imperfections and to decide to live their lives in a judge-free zone teaches them resilience and how to get back up when they are down.
Perfectionism is an extreme form of striving to be perfect – which we all know is impossible. Perfectionism is always determined by your thoughts of what you believe YOUR worth in the world should be. Most perfectionists accept (to some level) other people’s faults and mistakes but struggle to accept this quality for themselves. Perfectionists often hide behind thoughts such as:
- “I can’t help it if I have high standards”
- “I just want to get it right before I can move on”
- “I would rather not do it if it can’t be perfect”
- “I want everyone to see what an amazing job I have done”
- “I hate being judged & criticised so it has to be perfect”
- “If everything is exactly as I want it, that’s when I am happy”
Perfectionism starts in the imagination – where we have an image of what we see as an ideal outcome. However, the ideal outcome in our mind does not include the work, the effort and the knowledge of what we CAN control inside the imagination. It is like a perfectionist does not include all the difficulties (time & effort) it takes to achieve the ‘perfect outcome’. When we accept that something will be difficult & take time to master, most of us do not panic.
Perfectionism can be the cause of mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression. As a Youth Mental Health First Aid Officer, I see this all the time when I work with students who are struggling to let go of being perfect. A perfectionist cannot help but compare themselves to those around them. And they can do this comparison with EVERYONE around them.
When we have not allowed the mind to understand that we each see life through our own lens – our own perspective, so to compare & strive to be like (or better) than others requires identical information, thoughts, feelings and behaviours.
Brene Brown talks about perfectionism in her book – The Gifts of Imperfection.
Being Wholehearted: Brene Brown – Cultivating Self-Compassion – Letting go of perfectionism. Perfectionism is not about healthy striving – it’s a thought process that says, “If I look perfect, do it perfect, work perfect and live perfect, I can avoid or minimise shame, blame & judgement. Perfectionism is the ultimate fear that people will judge and you will not measure up. It doesn’t protect you from being hurt, it stops you from being seen.
Time to embrace imperfection
It’s the perfect time to embrace imperfection and begin working on our own mental health. The levels of anxiety and depression are increasing every year, especially in our young people. As a speaker for Beyondblue, I understand how painful comparison can be but I also see the change in young people when they realise they are being judged for trying to be something that doesn’t sit well with them. Here are a few ways to begin the change from striving to achieve the impossible to striving to achieve greater contentment.
- Embrace imperfection in ME. To be perfect is only through your own lens – your own perspective. There is nothing wrong with trying to strive to improve ourselves and to evolve into the best version of who we are but understand that letting go of an ideal image breaks down judgment in yourself and decreases blame. When we blame someone or something for what is happening, we need to control a situation or a person, which is difficult or impossible to do.
- Judge-free zone with others. Other people will behave and say what they decide is right for them. Sometimes this is what suits us but other times it is not. Seeing other people for their true worth, all the little cracks or flaws in their personality teaches the brain that this is the real human experience. We often have ‘life rule books’ for other people – the way we want them to behave around us’, however, if you love someone unconditionally, it requires love without conditions – without judgment.
- Don’t wait for the perfect situation. I see this all the time when people avoid doing something or starting a new project because it is not the perfect time. Some moments in life appear perfect while others we can create our own level of it’s good enough to start. Waiting for a moment to be perfect to start stops us from taking action, from moving forward, from evolving and from living the life you deserve to live.
- Enjoy the journey. I know this is so cliched but it is so true. It is the process of changing or growing where all the enjoyment comes from. We don’t set a goal, achieve it and then stop living. We set a goal, move through the ups and especially the downs and begin to understand all the amazing lessons we learn along the way.
Accept that we are not meant to be perfect and a huge weight will be lifted from your shoulders. Why would you want to live life carrying a huge weight when you can live life feeling the way to WANT to feel – happy or content. There is no such thing as perfect. You are already being judged for who you are and you cannot control this so let it go. Life is an amazing gift – cherish it and embrace all the imperfections.
Linking up with Kylie for #IBOT