All our life we try and make things work in our favour. We push ourselves to the limit to achieve a goal which may or may not be ours truly. We groom ourselves , behave in a certain manner, live our own life in a certain way. All of this is done to create a perception of ourselves so that we are not judged or criticized by others. This gives birth to the notion of perfectionism. It is an idea that gives us false hopes of being perfect, but only further degrades our self confidence . As a word, perfect means having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics; as good as it is possible to be. But the thing to notice about it is the example that is given to show it’s usage is extremely ironical. “life certainly isn’t perfect at the moment”. And this is the point that is important to understand here. No one is perfect. We all have flaws that we carry along. Life is full of endless possibilities. Perfectionism rises from the situation of avoiding failure. Everyone hates failure and there is nothing wrong in it. The problem arises when we restrict ourselves from behaving in a certain way or taking a decision that may result in failure. This attitude if kept for a long, becomes a dangerous addiction which leads to guilt, self doubt, grief etc.
The cycle of perfectionism and how it affects us and everyone around us is very important to understand. The critically acclaimed short film PERFECTION written and directed by Karen Lee , expresses it without words. It is a story about a girl who from her childhood has been used to perfection. Be it violin , studies ,physical appearance etc. she was trying to achieve perfectionism in order to avoid judgement. The film shows the gradual degradation of self compassion, self confidence and increase in guilt and self blame. It shows how we humans constantly blame ourselves if anything goes south. Everyone commits mistakes . It is the fact of life. Instead of running away from it we should embrace it. Brene Brown in his blog post about “Cultivating Self compassion” said it beautifully in one sentence. “It is in the process of embracing our imperfections that we find out our truest gifts: compassion, courage and connection.”
Perfectionism should not be mixed up with healthy striving/competition. They both are worlds apart. Perfectionism makes you identify a flaw in ourselves and we start blaming ourselves that we are not good enough. Healthy striving/competition on the other hand makes us the identify the mistake that we commit and further gives us motivation to overcome the hurdles caused by it.
Life is filled with mysterious experiences. Some might be good and some might be bad but the important thing is to being open towards the notion of negativity. We all will go through tough times and in those situations I think it is safe to say that motivating ourselves instead of blaming ourselves is a far better option to take.
You can have a look at our Mindfulness and compassion Online learning course .