Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Perhaps it is not so much that aiming for perfection is a hard task master, although it most certainly is both for ourselves and for those around us who we think should be perfect also, according to our ideas of what perfection is.
Perfection is a hard task master or mistress. I was a perfectionist for a large part of my life, striving to attain perfection in all that I was involved in at any given time. I was hard on myself and those around me. I gritted my teeth and forced myself to do certain things and thought there was something wrong with those who did not strive for the same things I did. I thought there was something wrong with them because everyone should want what I wanted. Right? The trouble with this philosophy is that we are not all the same, and we do not all have the same goals.
The strange thing is I did not realise that I was a perfectionist - I was just constantly striving for some idea of being successful at whatever I did. Looking back I now realise I was making my own life and the lives of those around me much more difficult than they needed to be. This was before I discovered that my own self-esteem was kind of at zero, and the reason I had to achieve my goals was because it made me feel better about myself. I was also using others to achieve this goal by thinking and saying judgemental things about them in order to make me feel better about myself - because I was not like them.
All this came from my own low self esteem. Feeling good about ourselves and contented within, means we can leave others to enjoy life in their own way.
First perhaps we might think about what we are trying to achieve and whether struggling to achieve it is of any ultimate value.
These days we are bombarded with advertisements telling us what we need to do in order to be perfect and lovable by using this or that product. Isn't this a very superficial view of who and what we are. Do the physical attributes we demand from ourselves and others really have any ultimate value in our lives? Is this really what I want my life journey to be about?
Why do we want everyone else to achieve the same idea of perfection that we hold dear? Why do we judge them because they are living a life that pleases them and perhaps deep down somewhere we wish we could be living that way also - but without the results of what we call imperfection.
The day I discovered these truths was when I stopped demanding perfection of everyone, including myself and if felt like the whole world slowed down and I could see the beauty around me.
I recently read of a woman who died of a heart attack in her late sixties being blamed for her own death because she did not eat in a way that others thought was healthy for her. This is one of the saddest stories I have ever read. Not for the woman who hopefully enjoyed her life and ate in a way that brought her pleasure or comfort. But for the friends whose only comments on her passing were that she had brought it on herself. How did that poor woman ever have a hope of finding good self esteem and affection for the loving person she may well have been with 'friends' like those as her companions.
Maybe seeking to achieve perfection in the art of compassion, kindness, affection, acceptance of others for being who they are - and not only that - but acceptance of ourselves as we are and then choosing what we want to do with our lives. The short time we have here is an opportunity to discover who we are and to be uniquely that.