Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Perfection Myth and Freeing Yourself From It

I am a reformed perfectionist. I used to spend nearly every other minute of my day sizing up my reality against how close or how far it was from some perceived ideal. Clearly this approach resulted in only one conclusion – it was always at some relative distance from perfection, only to be measured by my proportionate dis-satisfaction. As I got older, somewhat wiser, and “awake at the wheel” of life, I realized several things about this idea of perfectionism.

1-Being perfectionistic is more about psychological control than quality control. It is about maneuvering situations and feeling fulfilled on the idea of this accomplishment.

2-Being perfectionistic is entirely ego driven. Things can only be perfect if they fit into your individual design of perfection. This leaves no room for nature, or the ideas of others to truly contribute to anything.

3- Perfectionism undermines the idea of life as a process. Once something is perfect, it is complete and done. In reality, life is never done – it is all a process, far beyond and bigger than yourself or any situation you are involved with. Perfection is a make believe world much like Emerald City.

4- Perfectionism is a goal oriented frame of mind that steals from the focus from the here and now. It disconnects one from where they are at, instead focusing them on where they want to be or where they want any situation to be. It creates a dis-ease and dissatisfaction, which is a debilitating state that is not a powerful place to create anything from.

5- Life is actually perfect already. Like nature, existing in a yin/yang state, its life/death cycles, it’s ultimate design grounded in the concept of the very idea of balance of opposites – things must be “imperfect” to ever be perfect.

So how do we actually create our visions without getting caught up in this idea of perfection?

Well, one way is to realize that ultimately all we do and all we are is for the service of others. It really is not about you.

Second , is the understanding that nothing you “do” ultimately defines who you are. How you do it, does. Who you are in the process of doing whatever you do, is what lives with other humans and yourself. Being the “best lawyer,” “best doctor” or “best mom” is only worthwhile if you and your client, your patient, and your children actually know that you find joy and peace in what you do. Misery is never a private affair – it is ultimately ones second skin. Perfectionism is a joy robber – and what you are left with is that experience of yourself, and the experience others have of you.

Last, enjoy the process of life, and realize that good enough is sometimes truly good enough. We often run the rat race to “better” others. This idea is based on competition and some “survival of fittest” mentality. It is a scarcity mind set. The reality is, that there is no one to “better” there is only contribution or there lack of.

Living to see your potential is different than competing. Seeing your possibility and the realization of it, is about self expression. But until that self expression is plugged into the idea of service to others, it always has a sense of struggle because it is an unnatural state of being.

Perfectionism is never healthy. Be clear that there is a much bigger game going on than yours, that your joy is the mark of all you do, and realize that finding your potential and being fully self expressed is more natural and intuitive when done in the context of the contribution you make to others.

Have fun with it, and remember the only thing perfect in natural is the balance of it – let that be your role model.

J.Z. Fenster

1 comment:

Evan said...

If perfectionism is present then you are discontent somewhere. It is worth knowing what this is.

Make friends with perfectionism - it indicates discontent and perhaps what we need.

In this way it's tyranny is broken and it can lead us to joy not misery.