30 days of self love – Perfection

Posted: September 8, 2010 at 8:12 am

Good morning! Let’s start the day off right with another positive message. Taking the time early each morning to write these helps me and I sincerely hope reading them helps you in some small way too. Getting your thoughts from your comments brighten me throughout the day. We’re one week into our 30 Days. Let’s keep going strong!! 😀

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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?

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? Look for more reflection from me relating to this topic in this afternoon’s post. Writing this today was a mild reality check/slap in the face for me as well.

Quote 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

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109 Comments to “30 days of self love – Perfection”
  1. Perfection can be such an ugly monster. I’m not a huge perfectionist, but there are definitely areas of my life that I put way too much pressure on, like my marriage and even my cooking! I get so upset when a meal turns out less than perfect. I have to remember that not every meal (relationship, run, work day, etc.) can be perfect– and it’s the ones that are imperfect that make us appreciate the ones that really are great!

  2. Susan says:

    Ahhh, perfection. I used to want people to see my life as being nothing but perfect. Especially through my blog. But I don’t care about that anymore. Perfection is a myth. It’s possible for flaws to be just as attractive and desirable as attributes. My life has gotten a whole lot richer ever since I gave up the pursuit of perfection and instead just focused on being the happiest I can be – mistakes and all 🙂

    • Tina says:

      And I think showing flaws makes people more wonderful because it shows their realness. I know that is why I love blogs (like yours) that share more than just “oh look at my fabulous life”. I want to feel the emotion…and a mix of joy with frustrations or pain makes it more interesting and relatable.

  3. I’m a cleaning perfectionist. I think everything needs to be perfectly clean all of the time and I stress out when that doesn’t happen…which is often since it’s impossible to keep everything clean all of the time.

  4. Harmony says:

    I have to say the quote by Rosanne Carter is my favorite. In this day and age we put so much pressure on ourselves to be the perfect wife, perfect mom, perfect employee, etc, that we sometimes miss out an all the good things. Thanks for reminding us that perfectionism is a ghost and it does no good to chase at a ghost.

  5. I used to strive for perfection, and it was tough. I don’t feel that pressure as much as I used to. Perhaps because I am feeling more comfortable with myself? And have a husband who adores me for who I am? Whatever the reason, I’m pretty happy with me 🙂

    I think the perfection monster may return when I have kids and strive to be the perfect mom, but I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it!

    • Tina says:

      I think guilt is a daily emotion in motherhood because you care SO much for those little beings you want to be the absolute best mom out there. I think if there is one area I face perfectionism it would be in that. But I know its impossible and in a way being a mother proves that to me day in and day out. So it makes me grow by making me accept doing the best I can on any given day as enough.

  6. Penny Lane says:

    I am an all over perfectionist. I tend to want everything to be perfect, but with everything I do in a day I am unable to make all encompassing perfection a reality. I have always desired to be perfect because then people wouldn’t see my broken family or my broken life. If all these things can be covered up then people would like me and I wouldn’t have to explain anything, ever.
    I really like the quote by Hughe Parther!

    • I lived with alcoholics for 40 years before I decided enough was enough, and I recognize your statement that you desired to be perfect because then people wouldn’t see your broken family or broken life. The appearance of perfection is the best smoke screen for brokenness. I really saw this in my older sister, who felt it was her responsibility to create the illusion that our lives were perfect. I leaned toward the defense of being invisible. I feel for you! Take care.

    • Tina says:

      I think I get that type of attitude at times as well. Looking back, I think the times I most wanted to seem perfect to others were the times I was trying hardest to cover up my depression, binging, and other issues. Then I would end up feeling even worse because I felt so fake and unperfect. Its a vicious cycle. Know that those who care and matter see the real you and don’t need the illusions to love you.

  7. Love this Tina. I am not a perfectionist is every aspect of my life, but there are a few where I strive to be. My husband definitely is one so we clash there at times. I think it is so important to realize you don’t have to be perfect!

  8. I strived for perfection for too many years. I even think I reach it with my body—looking back now. But did I see that? No, I pushed and pushed harder and like you said, felt like less and less and developed so many problems because of that quest.

    I think we need to dwell on what you said that not being perfect makes life that much more vibrant. I know I’ll be thinking that today!

  9. Astrid says:

    This is such a tough idea for me. I focused on perfection for so long, that it actually hurts to say that I am not perfect. It hurts! I know I am not perfect, but I find myself trying to be perfect at being imperfect, which defeats the whole point. I will be thinking about this post all day. Thank you.

  10. I don’t expect things to be perfect, or for me to be perfect. Thinking about it, the only thing I strive for perfection in is my work. I always want to be the best, or better, than others in my field. I always want the projects I work on to stand out as shining examples of great work. Sometimes I need to accept that good is good enough, and to always produce “great” work is beyond anyone’s expectation. However, I’m always striving for the “greatness” at work. I can’t seem to help it.

    • Tina says:

      I relate to that. You put effort into something, you want it to succeed and be the best. That honestly was a big factor in why I knew I couldn’t go back to teaching. I knew I would try to do the perfect job and it would be at the cost of my family.

      I think its great to work hard and want to give things your best…as long as it fits into an overall life of happiness.

  11. welcome to my life..the life I don’t want to be drenched in any more.

  12. Letting go of the need to be perfect would be incredibly freeing for me.

    • Tina says:

      Remember that the things that matter in life don’t require perfection. You’ll see it even more when you have your baby. That baby will love you even if you didn’t change its diaper right away or if it has a little spit up stain on its clothes. 🙂

  13. I used to struggle with perfectionism a LOT. I graduated with a 4.0 GPA in both undergrad and graduate school…all b/c of my perfectionist tendencies! Learning to let go of the need/desire to be perfect – and, like you said, recognizing that perfection isn’t what I want in the first place – has been instrumental in me living a more balanced, fulfilling life.

  14. I wish I’d read this 10 years ago, when I was 14-year-old girl beginning my quest for perfectionism. Had I understood that “in the process of emphasizing the missing pieces, we create bigger and bigger holes in our own self worth and happiness,” my teen years and early 20’s would have been much more fruitful and fulfilling! I would have been able to give more, LOVE more and ironically, “achieve” more. Of course, I still struggle with perfection’s allure, but now I’m able to stop myself in my tracks, take a deep breath, and be thankful for everything that I DO have in my life.

    “The absence of perfection gives us meaning in life.” <–Love that! So true! And so liberating! <3

  15. Nichole says:

    The pressures that surround us daily can weigh heavily on our need to be the best, do the best and have the best. There are so many fantastic quotes in this post. It’s incredibly important to look around you and not focus on what isn’t there. Easier said than done, but important to call out!

  16. Time and time again I refuse to cut myself a break. I refuse to be satisfied or proud. I refuse to accept that I am okay as I am.

    God would NEVER treat me the way I treat myself. And furthermore, I don’t expect ANY of my friends or loved ones to be perfect, nor would I want them to. Yet why do I try to hold myself to those impossible standards?

    Perfection is often the devil rearing its ugly head in our lives. Self-acceptance is the key to defeating it. And I’m not there yet, not quite. But I am on my way.

    • Tina says:

      You’re certainly on your way! And I love how you pointed out the fact that we wouldn’t hold these expectations above others’ heads, so why our own?

  17. I call myself a lazy perfectionist. I want things to be perfect, but I am too lazy to do the work it would take to succeed. However, even though I don’t make the effort to create a perfectly clean house, to learn (and follow) grammar rules, or to be the perfect mom/sister/spouse, the desire – and the pressure – for perfection still calls me.

    So, not only am I dejected about the lack of perfection, I am also frustrated for my lack of effort! If only I would try harder, I think, then everything (my life, my relationships, me) would be perfect…as if I think I have that control.

    • Tina says:

      So true! We can decide to not worry about being perfect but society still tells us we need to be. We need more, more, more and everything better, brighter, newer. I guess it all boils down to remembering even God knows we’re not perfect which is why He saved us. So if God doesn’t think we can be perfect creatures, why should we even bother expecting the same. He wants us to be loving creatures…that’s where the focus should be.

  18. This couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. Thank you.

  19. Marg says:

    I’m normally not a perfectionist, but when it comes to my semi-professional photography career I am. I am my own worst enemy critiquing myself! As a professional I feel I should do my best, but realize others don’t see the tiny flaws I do.

    It’s also nice to have a food photography site, knowing those images don’t have to be perfect!

    • Tina says:

      Many people likely look at your images and think beautiful! They don’t have the same skilled eyes to see what you might. Even someone with a skilled eye likely wouldn’t since you know what to look for in the images. I bet all the shots you work on are fabulous!

  20. Michelle says:

    I think perfectionism makes me inflexible sometimes… Unwilling to accept change, even if it’s not bad change. We had a bbq this weekend, and an hour and a half beforehand we were buying stuff for it — in my head I wanted to bake something from scratch, make something gourmet, and not being able to do that was making me twitchy! Of course like all things it turned out fine … It’s hard for me to let go of the obsessive perfectionist planner in me sometimes. I’m working on it. Kinda. 😉

  21. Jolene says:

    I struggle with this too – I am not good at “not” being good at something when I first try and it’s very frustrating. You just expect to be good at it because you “tried” but that just simply isn’t the case all the time. Great post once again!!

    • Tina says:

      I think the whole fear of not being good at yoga is what kept me from it for so long. I wanted to be the best or in the top like I can be with other fitness related activiities. I didn’t even think about that.

  22. Jess says:

    Oh man, I seriously have never ever contemplating life without perfection. It’s ALWAYS in the back of my mind in some shape or form. Being Type-A by nature, I always want to do better and more and of course it always has to be perfect. I struggle to let it go and just be “average” sometimes. I don’t even know where to begin, as weird as that might sound. Definitely something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately – if I’m great just as I am, why do I always strive to be PERFECT? You’ve given me even more to think about Ms. Tina, thank you!!

  23. perfection is definitely part of the reason i struggled with disordered eating for so long. i wanted to appear that i had the perfect life, the perfect body, the perfect grades, the perfect boyfriend, the perfect relationships with friends, etc. and all the while it was just STEALING life from me! if only i knew then what i know now…

  24. Love love the Rosalynn Carter quote! I struggled so much with the idea of “perfection” in high school and college. Perfect grades, perfect body, perfect boyfriend… It’s taken getting knocked down a couple of notches a few times to realize how important it is to roll with the punches.

  25. […] on number two:  Today’s 30 Days of Insight.  Today’s topic is PERFECTION.  Tina did a great job writing about it and how our constant […]

  26. There tends to be a strong tendency towards perfectionism in my mum’s side of the family when it comes to cleanliness and appearance, and I often feel pressured to be the same. Sometimes though, I end up just getting discouraged and annoyed at it all! Then I realize that there’s no need to be perfect and just because they do things one way doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the way it has to be done. I’d far rather chill out than stress over such little things. 🙂

  27. I actually wrote about this in the post I love my body. I have been beating myself up over the desire for 6 pack abs for years, but when I finally said to myself ok if you have those will you love yourself and I knew the answer was no I realized I was reaching for some perfect ideal that no one could hit. Instead I choose to love myself right now, right where I am.

  28. Kelly says:

    Great things to think about. I spent way too much of my life with the mentality of “When my house is more organized (perfect), I’ll have people over.” Good grief, have people over now. “When I lose the last five pounds, I’ll do such and such.” Go do such and such now. I really to to no longer let my perfectionism get in the way of living and enjoying my life in the here and now.

  29. I am admittedly a perfectionist. I am learning that I am much happier and find life so enjoyable when I focus on what I have and all the wonderful things around me rather than what I don’t have or want. It makes everything a lot easier on me and those around me when I recognize that perfection doesn’t exist. Some of my favorite things about those I love are their imperfections. I have to respect my own as well.

  30. Ug. Perfection haunts me. I am always striving for it and you are right…what is it? Who is ACTUALLY perfect? Perfect body, perfect mind…there’s no such thing! Its’ so hard to accept because the media leads us to believe that perfection IS out there. We need to find acceptance within ourselves! loving these 30 days!!

  31. Steph says:

    I know I am an overachiever, but the label “perfectionist” is not an adjective I’d utilize to describe myself.

    If I were a perfectionist I would eat spinach for dessert over some dark chocolate and red wine – but I would rather toast to living as opposed to opening the fridge and figuring out my spinach is past the expiration date [as always].

    Cin! Cin!

  32. Tina I write about my Holly Monster quite a bit, because the desire/need to be perfect haunts me constantly. I want to look perfect, be perfect, know what to say and when to say it, do well at my job, be smart, be pretty, good cook, interesting person, etc, the list could go on and on.

    I am trying to be more patient with myself and not demand so many of these things. Why spend my time miserable about not being perfect when I could be happy and appreciate the unique things about myself?

  33. Emily says:

    Hi Tina! Another great post. I think I try to strive too frequently for perfection in my relationships with the people around me. I often want to appear perfect or be the perfect friend/daughter/sister so much so that I dilute my personality and often end up losing sight of my own needs and wants. I’ve learned that to be the best friend/daughter/sister I need to be myself and receive as much as I give. Receiving means admitting to imperfections and a need for help. This was kind of a strange tangent but I’m going with it. 🙂

  34. This is so such “perfect” timing tina!!! Here is my reflection on my blog http://www.advocateforselfishness.com/2010/09/30-days-of-self-love-perfection.html

    not only must we see perfection in ourselves, we can also see it in others and our own world will become more joyful and full of life.

    A big hug to you!

    lauren

  35. Stacy says:

    Wow this post today really pulled on my heart strings. The word perfection makes me think of two things; school and cleanliness of my home. I have several Type A personality traits. Ever since I was a kid, my father would tell me every time I would hand over my report card, “You could do better than this, why aren’t you trying harder.” I was getting straight A’s for cripes sake! Despite this constant pressure, I still love school. But every time I am taking a test I have major anxiety and borderline panic attacks. It’s not pleasant. As I reflect on this post and relating it to school, there is always the chance to learn more and continue to grow. NO ONE is perfect, I’m sure even Einstein was not perfect. Who wants to be perfect in school, then the opportunity to learn would end. And I don’t want that 🙂
    And oh, the cleanliness of my home. Well, I am working on it. I am a weirdo when it comes to my house. Some things I need to be neat and tidy; while other things I could care less how they look. Dusting, man, within minutes of doing it, it’s dusty all over again! So I am over it! Plus, I read this great quote. It really put things in perspective for me when it comes to the cleanliness of my home, “If the shelves are dusty and the pots don’t shine, it’s because I have better things to do with my time.”~Author Unknown
    And what does perfect even mean. My definition or idea of perfection could be completely different than others. Where did the ideas of what is perfect stem from? Did we create them for ourselves or did the messages and pressures from others create our idea of perfect? When we really look within ourselves, and focus on what I want and what I seek, this could change our ideas of what “perfect” is.
    There are far more important things than being perfect or “normal”. I am learning that perfection is not happiness. I much prefer being happy and less stressed, than striving to be “perfect”. I like being a weirdo and setting my own standards of perfection, because who I was yesterday, today, and tomorrow is perfect! 🙂

    • Tina says:

      I love that quote abuot the pots and dsut. I think it needs to be my new mantra. 😀 I love how you sum it up with perfection does not equal happiness. Great point!

  36. Holly says:

    I’m not sure if this “counts,” but one way I try to be perfect is that I really, REALLY try to never have people upset at me. Of course I am sure there are people who have been mad at me without my knowledge (or even with my knowledge, if I’m upset with them, too), but it truly eats me alive if I know someone is mad at me. Why? Not sure – I blame the Catholic guilt a lot – truly! But really, it has a negative effect on me and I am not sure why i beat myself up so much. Especially when, as we we all know, there are many people you simply cannot please all of the time. I will try to work on this, especially today….might even do a blog post about it. That always helps. 🙂 Great, thought-provoking post!

  37. Your perfections are what make you beautiful and unique. Sometimes we ruin ourselves trying to be perfect.this is a silly example, but look at Jennifer Grey from Dirty Dancing, I thought she was beautiful..and she got surgery to “perfect” her nose, and it ruined her career. Theres this wrinkle on my mouth when I smile, I always hated it, but never said anything about it…one day, my husband told me out of the blue that he thought that was the cutest thing about me, when I smiles, the wrinkles next to my mouth, I thought it was funny, because it was something I always criticized myself for, now I kinda like it…especially knowing it;s a part of me that my hubby loves!

    • Tina says:

      Aw, love that about you and your hubby. What a great example!

      And I think Jennifer Grey looked so much prettier with her nose. It made her unique.

  38. Emily says:

    Perfectionism is a horrible demon that I have been battling for a long time now. I have learned that when he takes control, you can feel suffocated by trying to satisfy him. I have spent the last year and a half letting go of perfectionism and trying to redefine my idea of what is perfect and moving more towards what is perfect for me, which is not perfection at all. I have tried to seek perfection in my body image, in my school work, in my relationships, and in my future planning. Desiring perfection just means that there is always an ideal that is pretty much unattainable. By slowly letting go of that unattainable need to be perfect, I am being kinder to myself and giving myself more freedom to explore who I am and what I can become. I recently made a huge leap by quitting my full-time job (you can read about it on my blog) that was a major shift from the perfection striving for me; feeling like I had to do it all and do it all well. We have to realize that when we try to be “perfect” at everything we often end up lacking in so many areas because we can only do so much. We have limits and we have things that we struggle with. Perfect is us, just the way we are 🙂

  39. […] Tina wrote in today’s 30 Days of Self Love post: Our simple act of desiring perfection ends up leaving us with even less of what could be […]

  40. Another fantastic post to think about.

    My need to have a perfect diet is my downfall. When I slip up, I give in to the “might as well keep eating crap” despair and do ten times more damage than I did with the original indulgence

    … I blogged all about it.

  41. LindseyAnn says:

    As I was catching up on yesterday’s post, I found myself hitting on issues that I wanted to talk about in this post. So, I combined the two, and it got very, very long.
    If you would like to read it, it is here: http://lindseyannlive.blogspot.com/2010/09/30-days-2-for-1-perspective-and.html

    Tina, I just wanted to thank you again for doing this. I am really enjoying it so much, I am learning and realizing so much, and it really has opened up my writing once again. So, once again, thank you!

  42. Hit the nail on the head! I REALLY want to be the PERFECT girlfriend, to have the PERFECT relationship. And that drive to perfection has actually destroyed my relationship and my body. I was so caught up in the idea of perfection that I started to act differently–I wasn’t being myself because I was afraid I wasn’t good enough. Aiming for perfection meant destroying the relationship before I ever had the chance to experience it. My eating disorder was so intricately connected to my relationship that once I faced the anorexia, the ache for a perfect relationship was less persistent. Of course, I still struggle with it sometimes, but I finally feel happy.

  43. Kelly says:

    Perfection….I’m guilty of this one too. As an adult it has a much different meaning than when I was younger. I know that I can’t be 100% perfect but I try. There are certain areas in my life that this impacts and others I could really care less about. Funny how your perspective changes with age.

  44. Kenley says:

    I have stumbled upon this blog and have been wandering around and I wanted to leave a comment and commend you, Tina, for such an outward focused, informative and encouraging blog. You really have a gift and you’re using it! God has blessed you with a great perspective, and I know He has used your past, and how it has shaped you, to show sooo many women (i’m sure men as well) an encouraging and inspiring way to live. You’re making a difference for the Kingdom, proclaiming God’s love and you’re in my prayers. 🙂

    • Tina says:

      Okay you just brought tears to my eyes. You have no idea how much I needed to hear uplifting words like this today. Thank you sooo much. I really want to reach people for God. So people can live a life of joy that I know He has blessed me with. Thank you! I hope to hear from you again. 🙂 Have a wonderful day.

      PS – Love your name!

  45. […] of 30Days of Self Love (this will have me caught up to date).  Check out Tina’s post (here)while I’m at work, and tune in to see what I have to write about . September 8th, 2010 | […]

  46. TC Burnett says:

    This is great! I’d like to be added to the email list.

    Thanks!

  47. Lisa says:

    This is so true. I myself am a perfectionist and it can be emotionally exhaausting at times. I’ve realized that it is a waste of time. I could easily be doing more productive things with my life instead of spending moments being anxious for no reason. That picture you have with the dozens of papers crumbled up reminds me so much of myself especially when it comes to school assignments and trying to not get a perfect grade on a paper/assignment but to write perfectly so it looks nice! As silly as that sounds, that is not necessary! At all!

  48. Crystal says:

    I am definitely a perfectionist, especially with my body and eating. I have this ideal on how I should look and eat, and if I fail then I just feel hopeless. The problem is, my expectations of myself are unrealistic so I always fail. So I always feel hopeless and unfulfilled. I keep thinking, “If I could only look like this then I’ll be happy,” and, “If I stick to x amount of calories a day then that means I’m healthy.” It’s so messed up! I am finally realizing that health begins with accepting myself as I am and now how I think I want to be. I need to stop fearing the future and just enjoy each moment. Striving for perfection is a hard habit to break, but I’m slowly making progress. As I get older I find it is easier to just enjoy my life instead of focusing on how it isn’t.

    • Tina says:

      Mental health is just as important as physical health. I always try to remind myself of that when I’m feeling overwhelmed by my “healthy habits” when they’re obsessive.

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