Self Love Reflection: Desiring Perfection

Posted: March 6, 2011 at 3:17 pm

Did you know that something in this world seeks to torture us with its allure because it knows we can never reach it? That this monster tries to overtake our lives and bring us down because it can always allude us? That evil little monster hides in the ideal of perfection. Say it with acid on your tongue. Perfection.*shudder* Perfection.*hisssss* What a tricky little devil.

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Perfection somehow seems like a reality possible of achieving, yet the exact opposite is true. Perfection acts as a mirage in the desert…you think  you can get to it and then revel in contentment, until it disappears before your eyes and leaves you stranded in frustration. Then, sadly, moments later we will seek it again. Search high and low in this world and I guarantee you that you will never find perfection.

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Sadly, I believe all of us know perfection does not exist, but still continue to search it out like some sort of Holy Grail. We focus on what lacks in our bodies, our wallets, our lives, our families, our relationships, etc In the process of emphasizing the missing pieces, we create bigger and bigger holes in our own self worth and happiness. Our simple act of desiring perfection ends up leaving us with even less of what could be called a “perfect” life because we miss out on life. How’s that for irony?

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The quest for perfection acts as a drug. We want more, more, more to go higher, higher, higher but in reality we simply crash and burn with less and less. Less hope. Less strength. Less love for ourselves and others. Less energy. Less perspective. Less…until eventually we scramble for any scrap that can signify purpose or joy in our lives. The quest for perfection kills souls.

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To break free from the chains perfection binds us in, we must not only recognize that perfection does not exist but also that we don’t even want it.Imagine the vibrancy life would lack in a world of perfection. Our pains make our joys brighter. Our weaknesses make our triumphs over them greater. Our unique physical attributes make us all the more beautiful. The areas of our lives that we may wish to improve on make the areas we take joy in all the more sweet. The absence of perfection gives us a meaning to live. With perfectly sculpted and manicured lives, the passion and purpose for going out and experiencing life would diminish. What’s so perfect about that?

Quotes to Reflect On
A man would do nothing if he waited until he could do it so well that no one could find fault.  ~
John Henry Newman
Once you accept the fact that you're not perfect, then you develop some confidence.  ~Rosalynn Carter 
Unless I accept my faults I will most certainly doubt my virtues.  ~Hugh Prather

In what things do you try to seek perfection? Why do you even want it? How does desiring perfection actually hurt that area of your life? What would letting go of the hope for perfection do for you?

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28 Comments to “Self Love Reflection: Desiring Perfection”
  1. Karolina says:

    YAY! I’m so glad you posted this. 2 of my most recent posts on my blog are on perfectionism too. You’re so right that perfectionism tends to push us into what we fear…it’s not healthy at all!

  2. SO many truths! Its so hard to remember that sometimes. Knowing that I don’t have to be perfect has made me feel more comfortable in my own skin and in the process, more like me! The more I let go of that idea, the more I learn and like about myself. ;)

  3. Great Post! I am very guilty of seeking perfection in my physical appearance (I know it’s not possible) but that is the area where I am least forgiving.

    I love the quote by Ashleigh Brilliant ~ just awesome!

  4. I definitely relate to the need and desire for perfectionism. Growing up I never felt good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, successful enough. I hung so tightly onto trying to manipulate, control and change things in hopes to feel some satisfaction. But, as I found through my eating disorder, the more I tried, the more I only hurt myself. I know strive for a middle ground– the gray area, while dismissing black and white thoughts of perfectionism. I am who I am, and that must be enough.

    GREAT post <3

  5. Jan says:

    Wow! What a great post! Something I needed to hear. I’m so hung up on that “perfection” (all or nothing) right now. If I can’t get my work out in first thing in the morning, then why do it. Really? My excuses are becoming so lame. :) Thanks for bringing clarity back into my thinking.

  6. Jenn GH says:

    I find what the world considers “perfection” boring. Barbies, manicured lives, spotless new cars, cosmetic surgery (not reconstructive), big McMansions, ect. That stuff has little appeal to me. So manufactured, ununique, and plastic. Blah. Since I was a child ice always preferred imperfection…old cars and houses with character, vintage clothes, unique beauty, piles of random junk, exploring the less taken paths. Now that I’m an adult I intentionally surround myself with people who are not trying keep keep up with the jones’ or people trying to live so-called perfect lives. I enjoy people who are real, raw, and in search of truth taking roads less traveled even if they are a bit rough around the edges. I also don’t have tv (or magazines) haven’t for over 10 years bc of the bullshit it pours out. The media wants nothing more than for us to be eaten up by our desire for perfection bc it means more $$$.

  7. Jenn GH says:

    I’ve. Not ice. :-) dang phone!

  8. Jolene says:

    I needed to read this tonight, Tina. The basis for my post, in many ways, today. Thank you.

  9. Brilliant post! So well written and so important to bring up…repeatedly if necessary. I used to strive for Perfection in my grades, achievement, job, looks, weight, clothes. Now I’m just striving for happiness — seems so much more worthwhile ;)

  10. Ironically, letting go of perfectionism ALWAYS helps me achieve MORE – just releasing that pressure makes me be able to concentrate!

  11. Lauren says:

    Great post! I know my personality is a bit perfectionist, but I’ve really learned how to adjust that to do my best. I know I’m not the fastest runner, so instead of running at a “perfect/fast” pace, I congratulate myself on making progress in my speed or completing a distance. Same with school – as long as I study and feel like I tried my best, I am happy even if I don’t get a perfect A grade.

  12. I’m turning 30 this year and I don’t know if it’s because I’m getting older or getting wiser or both…but I stop searching for perfection. I am a happier person because I care less of what people think (part of the reason why I was a perfectionist in the first place). so with that mentality gone….the stress that comes to waiting for things to be come perfect, has also lessen.

    I am more laid back and I do things because I want to not because I want someone to think I’m perfect.

  13. Brooke says:

    i’m really struggling with this right now. i have a great life, but its not perfect and i can’t stand it.

    i’m emotionally exhausted over something i can’t help, something i can’t really change. but i also can’t accept the way it is as okay.

  14. Great post as always, tina! I struggle with perfectionism so much, and comparison. Fitness is one thing–I am training for a marathon right now, but instead of being happy that I ran 17 miles yesterday, I think abut how everyone else can do it faster than me. Losing sight of the entire point. It’s hard to accept sometimes what you see as limitations. I realize that if I insist on finding fault then I’m going to spend my life unsatisfied which is stupid! I try to focus on God and remind myself that while I am imperfect His love makes me perfect and if that’s not good enough for me, that’s silly because I am more than enough for Him.

    • Tina says:

      Congrats on the 17 miles! That’s amazing. Definitely don’t lose sight of your own accomplishments. Although I feel you – comparison is an easy trap to get sucked into.

  15. Cara says:

    Loved this post! It was wonderfully written! I’ve been struggling a lot lately with not being able to live up to the “perfection monster”. I go through this from time to time, but when I do come through I realize I am so much happier and more productive when I don’t listen to that voice in my head that tells me I’m not smart enough, fit enough, etc. So thank you for the encouragement!

  16. Keren says:

    Thank you for your reflections on Perfectionism. This is something I truly struggle with as well. If I can’t do something perfectly I tend to not even try it at all. I also find myself not enjoying things that I LOVE to do if I am not doing them perfectly. My husband often calls me out on it. It amazes me that in my teaching profession I always point out that the differences in us are what make us great and yet that truth is hard for me to personally accept. I appreciate you calling attention to this sometimes too hard to face truth.

  17. My mom was a huge perfectionist, and it actually turned me off to perfectionism in a lot of ways. It often seemed like she wasn’t happy because things weren’t good enough unless they were perfect, and I never want to embody that attitude.

  18. Heather says:

    I don’t necessarily want to be perfect, I just want to be BETTER. I can always better myself (at work, at home, in the gym, etc), as long as I accept myself.

  19. Great post! I am a reforming perfectionist:) I don’t know where it comes from but maybe for me, from caring to much what other people think. I remember the first time I consciously told myself that I needed to let it go with what I was doing: several years ago when I was a Cub Scout Den Mom and making scrapbooks for my 8 scouts and spending way too much time on each and every page. I told myself no one else would notice or care about the little details and that I did not have enough time to strive for perfection.

    For me, it is still often about time. I used to comment on every blog I followed every day but had to tell myself it is okay not to do that. And if I did not let go of my idea of perfection I’d never publish a post!

  20. Thanks for this. I recently posted about how stifling the fear of failure can be, which I think is a similar issue. I think it’s a common struggle, and it does cause us to lose sight of all the great things we have in our lives. We may not be perfect, but that’s okay.

  21. In my younger years i was always striving to be perfect in everything i did. It was exhausting. I made a lot of people around me very happy while i myself was pretty miserable. When you say above ‘Perfection is like a drug’ it cmpletely rings true. It becomes overpowering and obsessive. Lucky for me the people around me realized I was unhappy and pulled me out!

  22. jassy says:

    perfection? maybe with my body although I know I can never have a model’s body :)

  23. Missy says:

    That picture of the crumpled paper surrounding the desk is SUCH a good photo to illustrate your point of how the pursuit of perfection wastes our time that we could be spent living life and having fun.

  24. AMEN! It’s so hard to come to that place of peace with our imperfections, but it makes living life a whole lot easier.

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