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On Being Perfect October 27, 2009

Posted by Ann Bertorelli in Personal Observations, Uncategorized.
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girl by d sharon priutt

Ah, the need for perfection….so sublime, so pervasive, and so much a pain in the ass. Why am I blogging about this? Because it’s one of my own personal demons and I have noticed that many others share my illusion that perfection is a necessary attribute. Which is a joke really. Who is ever perfect? Or even more confounding, what is perfection and who gets to say? Isn’t it ok to be perfectly imperfect? Lots of questions here—what about some answers?

I’ve been trying to figure out for years where I acquired the need for perfection. (More questions) Was I born with it? Was it imposed upon me by an outside force? Gosh, I don’t know. I think that growing up Catholic in an Italian-American household could have had something to do with it. When in doubt, blame everything on being brought up Catholic. There may also be something about being a girl growing up in the 50’s. But after analyzing this, I have come to the conclusion that ‘why’ really doesn’t matter. What does matter is that my predilection for ‘perfection’ does haunt my life in little ways:

  • If I make a typo in an email, I either correct it or apologize or get embarrassed or all of the above.
  • If my house is messy I believe it reflects poorly on me as a person and cringe if my neighbor comes to the door.
  • I correct my son’s grammar (after all, I brought him up and if he doesn’t use lie and lay properly, it directly reflects on me.)
  • When watching a video of myself dancing in competition, I see only the mistakes I made. I almost completely ignore what I did right, which was most of it.
  • I keep my car neat, not only because I like a tidy car but because other people can see the mess through the car windows.

I could go on but you get the picture. (Believe it or not, I am way better about this than I used to be) So what’ s a person do to if she wants to lead a relatively well-balanced life? Here are some tactics I’ve used when the perfection demon rears its ugly head:

Tell the demon to shut up.

How we talk to ourselves is important. I interrupt my demoralizing self-talk by replacing the criticisms with something positive. Example: Instead of “I mishandled that situation,” I think, “Perhaps I could have done better and I have learned something valuable from this. Next time I will handle it better.”

This is a big one—for me and for most of the rest of the world. I am willing and mostly able to forgive others for their mistakes. The person who does not get my forgiveness very easily is me. I forgive myself by acknowledging that I am a human enrolled in Earth School. As such I am supposed to make mistakes so that I can learn valuable lessons for my emotional, spiritual, and intellectual development. I tell myself that if I knew it all I would be in heaven with the angels, not mucking around down here.

I firmly believe the world would be a much more peaceful place if each person on the planet could forgive herself (or himself) regularly.
Admit my arrogance.

When I get into this circular critical thought process, I often realize that what I am obsessing about is of no importance or relevance to anyone but me. I admit to myself that in the scheme of things, my little imperfection is inconsequential. I am not the center of the universe nor do I want to be. Basically the message is,”Get over yourself.”

Just say “F—- it.”

At times I apply all of the above but I am still obsessing about something I did ‘wrong.’ When nothing else works, I mentally stamp my foot to the universe and say,”Fuck it.” You’d be surprised how well that works at letting go.

If you are one of my fellow perfection junkies, I hope these tactics are of some use. And if someone out there has achieved perfection, I’d love to hear about it. I’m a big fan of fiction…

—-Amara

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