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Chasing Perfectionism

Updated: Apr 12, 2021

“I want to get it right. It has to be perfect!” is a mantra we often repeat to ourselves while we go through our day. From reorganizing the garage to simply drawing or writing for fun, we aim to achieve the impossible: perfection. The word ‘perfectionist’ is often thrown around as a colloquial category for those who are too nit-picky about their tasks, but it’s not just a select few who have this word driving their activities - it’s all of us.

I’m tempted to call myself a recovering perfectionist, but then I’d be straight up lying to you. I am definitely a perfectionist. One that is learning how to live my life in balance and let go of my visceral need for all of the control. I like control. I like all of the control. In my life, if things didn’t go as they should (or as I think they should). I would unravel like a spool of yarn thrown around by a toddler. Which then never goes back quite the way it did to start with. But isn’t that the point? Once we come undone we put the pieces back together in a different and more uniquely beautiful way. And sometimes we need something big to wake us up and get us to pay attention and thrust us into a different path that is probably, (no, definitely) the better path we just couldn’t see before. As a trauma informed yoga specialist, I have studied the mind-body connection of our emotions and the neuroscience behind why we do the things we do. I logically know plenty of wellness tools to help guide people through challenging times. But teaching and practicing are two very drastically different actions that have taken me many lessons to learn the importance of both.

In my chase of the perfect marriage, the perfect family, the perfect life, I was missing the essential parts of actually living. I was too caught up in making sure everything looked perfect and was something people would be inspired by. Whether or not that was real behind my lens of perfectionism, well to be honest, I don’t even know because I was too busy making things perfect. My biggest lessons in non-attachment (aka letting go), have come at times when I least expected them. It’s almost like I heard the message, but was too damn stubborn to listen and just be present with my thoughts, feelings, and emotions. I wanted what I wanted and expected my life to go a certain way. Which is why the universe needed to keep smacking me in the face.

Pushing ourselves to be the best we can possibly be is often something we are told to do continuously when we are passionate about our activities. Some of us take this too literally and while using our passion to push us to excellence and to go above and beyond our expectations, we often lose sight of the end goal. I know because I've been there. We float away on our own ship with other mindless tasks, rather than focusing on the real purpose of our actions. The idea of being perfect blurs our true focus and doesn’t let us live the idea of “the journey is greater than the destination.” By saying that a ‘perfect’ end result is the epitome of our process, the time and effort spent to get to that place becomes futile and underappreciated.

Many of us gain a sense of satisfaction when we complete a task, regardless of the outcome. The feeling of having something checked off the never ending, mile-long to-do list gives us a sense of completion to some extent, no matter what (even when we add something to the list just to cross it off - I know I'm not alone here... am I right or am I right?) However, aiming for perfection in all of our 100s of tasks often stresses us out because this fixed and narrow mindset doesn’t fulfill us even though a small victory has been made. This way of thinking leaves us constantly worried about every little thing, even though the constant distress is unnecessary. By diminishing our mental health over such minimal problems, we sacrifice our happiness for an impossible goal - perfectionism.

Once I FINALLY began to sit with my own insecurities and feelings instead of pushing them aside in search of “the right way to feel” I began to transform. I’ve learned that by not attaching to a specific outcome but instead attaching to the feelings I wanted to experience in the moment is the #1 way for me to keep my perfectionism/ego in check. I’ll tell you, it is not easy. Worldly conditioning has made it seem impossibly hard when we are attached to social media and news outlets that thrive off our fears. It takes intentional work to truly feel our feelings and then navigate our life’s journey as it unfolds. But I promise you, the work is worth it. To live a life that feels balanced, authentic, and purposeful is the best gift you can give to yourself and the world around you.

Accepting our flaws makes us stronger in the long-run. Our imperfections are what truly define us and give us individuality in this world, but by eliminating them while aiming for orderly perfectionism, we blur into our background and lose the chance to stand out. Focusing too much on the idea of everything having to be uniform to a set standard with a lack of uniqueness makes people feel as though they are constantly being compared to someone or something. When we can let go and grow, we lose this fixed mindset, and a sense of peace can be achieved since societal standards aren’t holding back our every action and though

We often get so lost in the game of being perfect that we don’t realize that perfectionism isn’t possible. The diverse opinions of everyone in this world create such a broad concept of what is truly perfect, so achieving this is quite literally impossible. Get comfortable with failure so you can soar with success.

And the next time you get stuck in the "Everything has to be perfect" mindset, take a step back and let it go. Instead find the beauty in the imperfections & notice how quickly your mind, body and soul find peace.


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