Are you a perfectionist? [episode 20]
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Welcome back to another Unleash Your Power Session! I’m guessing that the theme of this episode will strike a chord with many of you. The question is… Are you a perfectionist? The best way for me to address that is what a confession. Yes, I’m a recovering perfectionist. The wish to be perfect, or at least to appear perfect, is a lifelong affliction as far as I can tell.
My earliest memory of wanting things in my life to be exactly right goes back to elementary school. I can remember rewriting an entire page of homework if I made even a single mistake.
Why did I do that? I think my drive towards getting everything just so was an attempt to get my father’s attention by being the best I could.
I was one of five children, and after my parents’ divorce, I went to live with my mother. Having any significant time with my dad became very difficult by the age of five. And having his undivided attention was virtually impossible. But I set my sights on getting what I couldn’t have in some respects. My father loved me absolutely and yet he was supporting at least seven of us and running a fledgling business at the same time.
Trying to be the “good girl” was a role I unconsciously played into adulthood. In a way, my desire to conform to what I thought he wanted me to be was actually an attempt to control what was essentially beyond my control. And you bet that I carried that behavior on into my other relationships; especially with men. I became who I guessed they wanted me to be and all the pretense only served to delay discovering who I really was.
If you share this affliction, then deep down you know how fruitless the pursuit of perfection really is. Because in truth, perfection is an illusion conceived by the mind, that never manifests itself in reality. Perfection is in a human construct that’s kept alive in our airbrushed and Photoshopped media world. Virtually all forms of modern media are filled with images in which every minute detail is manipulated to reflect some impossible ideal.
Illusion refers to deceptive appearance and if you struggle with wanting the perfect body, the perfect lover, or the perfect job, then you’re simply perpetuating what is false. In actuality, life is never perfect because life is alive. It’s a process rather than a destination. It’s a verb not a noun. In other words, my intention in this episode is to dispel the old adage that practice makes perfect. I hereby free you from the prison of perfection by giving you the keys to what’s real, to what can be achieved… and that’s your potential.
The formula to realize your deepest capacity is simple. You begin with a purpose to which you add practice. Passionate practice gives way to proximity to the YOU you’ve always wanted to be. There is no perfection, just proximity, just nearness, just real intimacy and acknowledgment of the potential you have only to express. So hang a note to remind yourself… purpose leads to practice that leads to proximity that leads to realizing your potential.
If you still find yourself confronting perfectionism, here’s a process that may help: Begin with the decision to stop deceiving yourself by attempting to achieve the impossible. Your decision is followed by surrendering the false belief that being perfect is real and instead choosing to BE real yourself.
Only then will you come to understand that people love you as you are. That’s when you can begin receiving the love you want beyond the obligation of faultlessness. When the fantasy has been wiped from your eyes, and you consciously choose to stop the pretense of perfection, you extend a compassionate hand to your authentic self.
Caring for that very real, very lovable and very human person called YOU will invite others to do the same. Acknowledging the truth of your inherent value then liberates others to finally see and finally love the genuine you that exists beneath an often lonely veil.
It was once said:
Do what you want to do…
But want to do what you are doing.
Be what you want to be…
But want to be what you are.
Here’s my challenge should you choose to accept it… commit yourself to seven days of authentic communication. Say what’s so, but speak the truth with compassion, particularly towards yourself. Keep a record of any communication in which speaking honestly creates upset for you. It’s the difficult conversations that require further exploration because beneath the tension lay precious gems simply trying to break free.