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Does Perfection Even Exist?

Updated: Aug 7, 2021

In short. No, I don't think it does exist. So you can either stop reading now or read on to find out why.

It is the defined struggle of the average person. Trying to be the perfect parent, the perfect co-worker, the perfect boss, or the perfect partner can be exhausting. That pursuit of perfection is an impossible task. You see, you can't have perfection in an imperfect world, and when someone demands perfection, either with themselves or with others, they create massive frustration for all involved. High demands often stem from guilt, and that the need for perfection can create a worrying cycle that is physically and mentally taxing.

Before we go any further, let's define what we are talking about when we discuss perfection.

Why is Perfection Important?

Perfection is a natural human emotion. Some seek it as a state of mind that they want to strive for, while others desire it as a logical, reasonable set of guidelines that provide clarity and order to their lives. Others embrace the idea of perfection with a feeling of pride, feeling that they have achieved what most would consider being the ideal in life. For some, if you fail at perfection, it may be devastating. Others believe that a perfectionist should be proud of the achievement that they have reached. For some, perfection is the goal, which may mean that they push themselves to the limit to attain it.

The Dangers of Pursuing Perfection

The most insidious danger of excessive pursuit of perfection can be found in something called the "ideal self" or "persona." This idea is usually born from a lack of self-esteem or the facade of an artificially curated, socially accepted "real person." Usually, this is a protective mechanism against constant self-critical self-examination, or about giving others something to live up to. The problem is that this illusion of who you want to be can be so emotionally overwhelming that it is mentally suffocating. The Ideal Self leaves you feeling inadequate and helpless. This leads to many health problems, including depression and anxiety. Depression and anxiety result from feeling overwhelmed by a sense of imperfection and inadequacy.

The most insidious danger of excessive pursuit of perfection can be found in something called the "ideal self"

It's important to realise there are some things you can control and some you can't, our logical mind knows this, but our emotions step in and we think, 'But I can be the exception to the rule.' That demand for control is typically what creates anxiety about the future. When we try to perfect too many things we lose the ability to go all out on the things that are really important to us, to that end, good enough is the new perfect. So often people lose sight of their passions and deepest desires when they try to be the best at everything.

The pressure of being a perfectionist is often fuelled by sudden life changes.

Coping with the Pressure of Being Perfect

This seems to be a universal struggle, especially when you are trying to juggle the roles of spouse, parent, friend, boss, and employee. Perfectionistic people look at themselves in the mirror every day and ask themselves what they are doing wrong, or perhaps the idea of perfection is outdated, and no one knows what perfection looks like anymore. The pressure of being a perfectionist is often fuelled by sudden life changes. For example, when you have a child, you are suddenly under the microscope of all your peers. Everyone is judging your parenting skills and wondering why you don't get a break. When that baby is teething and has a fever and won't stop crying, all eyes are on you, and your reaction.

How to Deal with Others Who Demand Perfection

I believe that the World is made up of 'Never Enoughs' - high achievers who had a strong need to be the best at everything - and the 'Good Enoughs', who believe that being the best of everything, is not as important as being happy at work and home. I stand by my belief that the Good Enoughs are happier in their lives and their jobs than Never Enoughs. This is because, the Never Enoughs although making a bit more money on average, are often overwhelmed with worry and obsessing over tedious tasks. There's a great book called 'Don't sweat the small stuff; the Good Enoughs get it, the Never Enoughs - well they just don't.

Good Enoughs are more likely to take risks with new career paths, and the Never Enoughs often feel an obligation to try to achieve as much as possible because the opportunities may not arise again.

What If your partner or boss is extremely demanding, how do you deal with them? Below are a few quick tips on how to deal with someone who demands perfection: First off, understand that people need a little bit of flexibility. Don't be afraid to ask for help or to be given a chance to improve. There is often a misalignment in the expectations between your partner or boss and you. They think they need to have your approval on everything, but that isn't realistic. So, you must maintain a level of flexibility and see where they're coming from. Laugh with them. Sometimes they aren't kidding. They don't mean to be unreasonable, but they're just used to getting what they want and it's hard for them to understand what you're saying especially if it might not be what they want.

In the end, It all ends with you.

The need to be a career success can cause so much disappointment and worry. I have learned from years of experience that personal value is never based on my usefulness to others or my job title, pay me the Moolah and call me a Monkeys Assistant if you like - my personal wealth is based on my standard of living, my mental state, and my self-worth. These things don't come from titles. People really need to make a conscious effort to reframe their view of their own self-worth.

I don't waste precious time finding something to be dissatisfied about

And I don't try to manipulate anybody into giving me what I want, simultaneously setting myself up for disappointment - because when it comes to it, it's just not that important. Take this advice and enjoy a moment to listen to your own heart, it knows best. Firstly, You don't need to please others all the time to be respected and to stay a part of their lives. Secondly, believe me when I say this; nobody is trying to upset you on purpose - your issue, in your mind, is simply not that important to anybody but you. Only the never enoughs would have an ego so big as to believe others would spend their valuable time thinking up ways to upset them.

So in summary - this is my recommendation;

1. Let go of the need to be perfect. Tell yourself every day.

2. Switch from being the best to do your best. This isn't settling or slacking off, It's honing in on the priorities and being realistic.

3. Never compare yourself with others. We all tend to look around at others and compare ourselves. If one person appears to be flying through their career and bragging about it, you can't get competitive about it. There isn't a one-size-fits-all approach.

4. Don't be afraid to quit your job. Quitting is not the same as failing, quitting strategically is letting go of something that isn't working.

5. Embrace serenity. Serenity is the middle ground between perfectionism and indifference, and once you find this, you will feel the difference. However, you have to muster up all your willpower and resilience to really break the cycle.

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