My humans have been doing this strange thing to me lately. They make me sit, and then they plop a treat on my nose while saying loudly, ”stay, don’t move!” I can’t seem to figure out why they are asking me to do this thing. Sometimes when I’m trying to see the treat, it slides off my nose and onto the floor. They then say loudly, too loudly if you ask me, ”no, stay!” And here we go again, they steady my face in their hand, the treat goes back on my nose. ”Stay! Don’t move!” It’s not easy to keep my nose up, especially when I’m hungry! Sometimes it stays there, and sometimes it doesn’t. I always want the treat, so I do the best that I can, but I’ll be honest, I’m not concerned with being perfect. What about you, are you focused on perfection? Are you looking for perfection in yourself, or in others? Maybe you don’t even realize it.
I’ll let you in on a secret: perfection does not exist. Knowing this, looking for perfection seems to me like a losing battle, whether it’s a conscious decision or not. First, you are hurting yourself, because continually striving for perfection is setting yourself up for inevitable failure. Second, you may be hurting others who are also not able to be perfect, as you are unknowingly setting them up to fail. I’m sure this is not your intent; most of us would not want to do that. I don’t believe my humans realize they could be setting me up to fail. Might I suggest they hand that treat over right from the start, to avoid this whole issue!
I believe we all want to succeed, and most of us do not wish to strive for perfection in an unhealthy way. So why might we be setting ourselves up for failure, whether it be consciously or unconsciously? Could it be fear of failure itself? If so, we are sabotaging ourselves right from the start to avoid failing! Perhaps there’s a hidden belief underneath our desire for perfection. Could it be that deep down, we think we are not good enough? If you stop reading now, I’d at least like you to hear this: you are good enough. No, not good enough, you are more than enough, just as you are. You are perfect in your imperfection. These imperfections are part of what makes you, you. Embrace the imperfections even while you may be looking to grow, just as I continue to work to keep that treat steady.
Maybe you don’t even realize this striving for perfection is in your life. My suggestion if you’d like to discover whether or not this is impacting you is to ask yourself a few simple questions. Do you find yourself often disappointed with others in your life? For a myriad of reasons, do you feel that people frequently let you down? Does it feel like those in your life are not coming through for you when you think that they should? Or could it be that you become repeatedly disappointed in yourself? Maybe it’s not receiving a high enough grade on a paper, or a work project that you completed that you can’t quite feel satisfied with. Perhaps that last run is never fast enough, never long enough, and you feel like you should be doing more. If you find you are continuously disappointed in yourself or others, perhaps perfectionism may indeed be a struggle for you.
I am not saying to quit trying to achieve your goals or to let others walk over you. I ask that you take a moment to think about these questions. How does it make you feel to live your life searching for perfection? What would your life look like without a constant drive for perfection? Is there something you could be doing differently to lessen that drive? Finally, who would you be without this need? It does not have to be hard to change. Look around in your life, if you like what you see and don’t feel this is a struggle of yours, great! If you think you’d like to make some changes, my friend you just took the first step! That realization is the first step in the right direction, to create a more realistic expectation for yourself and others.
We can agree that we are all doing the best that we can. Sometimes we will falter, we may make a choice that might result in pain, hardship, or hurt feelings in ourselves or in another. I believe taking a step to let go of that unrelenting drive for perfection can be the start of a lasting change of freedom in your life. Sometimes the treat stays on, and sometimes it does not. Why not embrace both? Or dare I say, choose to let the treat fall sometimes. What might we learn about ourselves when it does.
Come walk with me, if you’d like.