perfectly imperfect - part 1
january, 2022 (but probably written and re-written since november, 2021 😂️)
today i begin a series that i will explore in more detail as i go on. i want to write about perfectionism and just how crippling it can be. when i write, i write about what i’m going through personally. i’m not sure why i feel the need to say this but i do. the work i do with others affects me because i am living with it as i practice it. i don’t write about what i do not experience deeply, whether it’s by my own choice or mirrored to me in my daily life. what i have also discovered is that we magnetize to us others that also understand our personal wounding, whether we realize it, want it, or not.
perfectionism can be crippling not only to the person who experiences it but to the many that are impacted by it. this can include partners, children, co-workers, friends, strangers. you name it! this is what i want to talk about; my piece in the puzzle and how i may have affect on others. it’s one thing to talk about how it affects me personally but as i continue to follow my path, i need to humbly honor the experience of those that are impacted by my wounding. this, i believe, is the greatest gift we can achieve in this lifetime. we are one, afterall, and i believe this is the purpose of life here on earth and what i want to embody to the world around me.
this is not always an easy road. as humans, we all see and experience life through the window of our own wounding and we can only meet “other” as far as we have met ourselves. i say this with utmost compassion, this is all we can do! however, this is also the fundamental teaching that buddha has shown us. in the path along his lifetime, he sought to find the buddha in all that he encountered. we are all teachers in this world, if we choose it. as he continued on his journey, he looked for and found the buddha everywhere, in all forms and experiences. “buddha?’ he asked. ‘buddha?’ he wondered. “BUDDHA!”
i can speak a bit about perfectionism and its origins. but, there is much written out in the world about it and if you’re interested, there are so many resources that can explain it better than i can. in my case, perfectionism might have been drawn out by early insecure attachment styles and the way that i was raised. and it is this that probably led to the body dysmorphic disorder that plagued me for much of my life until i received specialized treatment for it. admitting this is not to damn or bastardize my parents or anyone else that might have influenced me in my youth. what i’ve come to learn is that wounding is inherited through generations and we are at a time now where self-exploration and a focus on mental health has allowed us to break these patterns. our parents and other elders did not have the same support system that we have now. and once habits take root, they can be very hard to change. even the idea that ancestral wounding affects generations isn’t something that was widely discussed until now. oftentimes these discussions were packed off into the woo-woo self-help box and this box was set on a shelf untouched.
perfectionism is the constant striving for something that doesn’t exist, really. “to err is human”, as the great enlightenment poet, alexander pope, once said. as we are all imperfect copies of the divine, finding the perfect in all that we do is a futile battle. it’s difficult to feel like we have to do our unatainable best just to keep up with expectations. the growth is in the mistakes and in the ability to humbly own them and grow from them. furthermore, as we are all mirrors of one another, the practice of perfectionism can influence others to comparison and insecurity, particularly if they are on a different pace of their healing journey. it is my belief that in these times, this journey is available to all of those that chose it.
my dad once told me “don’t let the perfect stand in the way of the good”. apparently this was a pretty large business mantra in his day and this catch-phrase has been updated and perfected many times over since then. (the fact that this phrase wasn’t really shared with me when i needed it the most is my own personal story.) however, the truth of this sentiment is resounding. the important thing is that all humans can change. the things that we can change are our mind, our response, and perspective on things. and we can also grow in compassion to see how important outside perspectives and emotional requirements are, even if they don’t resonate with us personally. seeing the world through the lens of ‘other’ is a practice that takes diligence and humility.
perfectionism can lead to procrastination and complete in-action. and this is something that i do know well. i’m sure many of you can relate. but here’s a trick that i’m using now that i hope can help. i allow myself to rest and recharge when i need it, both mentally and physically and i don’t feel guilty about it anymore. i work extra hard when i’m feeling inspired and i put that work out into the world. and once it’s out there, i ask for guidance on how i can improve it. this guidance might come from my clients, my father, my friends, my spiritual guides. often-times, i will come back to it, time and time again, as the work and the words sink in. just because we put something out there for others to see doesn’t mean that we cannot go back and build on it. and this idea is probably foreign to many of us, i know that it was for me. in all honesty, even when we go back and build on our ideas and share that building with others, this is probably one of the greatest gifts we can emulate to those around us.
going back to correct past mistakes or improve ourselves does not make us weak but it does weaken our ego and this i believe is the greatest practice of them all.