We tend to think that if we do everything perfectly we will succeed in our lives, relationships and careers. If we are perfect we will finally impress others, be respected and maybe even be seen and heard.
We have to have the right house, the right job, the right career and the perfect family. We always want to do the right thing. We have to look perfect. We have to be the perfect husband, wife, parent, student, colleague or boss. On social media we quickly display our perfect lives and leave others with an impression that we have everything under control, when in reality these postings create snapshots of lives that are almost impossible to live up to.
Trying to have the perfect life is a never ending story because it never gets quite good enough, and no matter how good you get at it, it doesn’t leave you feeling any better. As a matter of fact, it is exactly the opposite. People that seem perfect from the outside go through the same struggles and downturns as the rest of us.
Not only does striving for perfection take a meaningless toll on your energy, it also brings you further and further away from yourself, because trying to be perfect is very often guided by what looks perfect in other people’s eyes, not what is meaningful to you or what makes you feel good.
Also, as a consequence of moving further and further away from yourself your relationships will often become shallower, and with a focus on perfection you might even push people away, when you were likely hoping for the opposite.
Thus being perfect may earn you respect and power, but it will not result in you being seen and heard as the person you really are. And isn’t that what we all long for, to live a life from this place of authenticity?
In fact, it is impossible to truly connect with other people and fill your life with things that really matter to you (See more) if you are guided by trying to be perfect.
There is nothing wrong with being ambitious and having high standards or sharing your life on social media as long as it is not based on comparing yourself to others, or other externally guided principles of perfection. Are you aware of what is guiding you?
If perfection has snuck its way into your life, and you recognize the constant demands on yourself and the stress and anxiety that come with these demands, you might also have a longing to let all of this go. And the best way to do this starts with experimenting with imperfection. What really happens if I am not perfect, not liked, not respected? Will things fall apart or will it in fact help to create a life worth living?
How to start letting go of perfection:
- Be curious: Ask yourself, Are there any parts of my life that are guided by trying to be perfect in my own or other people’s eyes? Often this takes some reflection. Caution! A true perfectionist will quickly answer: “No I am always internally guided!” Most of us aren’t.
- If you find some areas of your life that are guided by perfection, start experimenting with deliberately being imperfect. Start small and raise the bets from there.
- Start celebrating the small imperfections in others instead of only being annoyed by them. After all, this is more often than not a sign of a person that is showing more of their true self. To begin with only challenge yourself on the small things.
- Start viewing the small imperfections in yourself as a sign of you finding your way back to a place where there is more room for just being you. Experiment with showing your vulnerability by being open about them.
Good luck with welcoming imperfection into your life