Demanding Perfection

Last night, I had a revelation. I still want to be perfect. I am still trying to control how I look, how I appear to others. I want everything I do to be perfect.

Because I want to be liked and respected. Because I want to feel good. And because, more to the point, I don’t want to feel bad.

Last night, I was experiencing that bad feeling. For the first time, instead of ignoring it by doing or eating or watching TV, I decided to sit with the feeling. I actually listened to myself.

Later, as I opened up to my aunt, I began to cry. “It’s exhausting trying to be so perfect all the time,” I sobbed. “But I don’t know how to change.” The thought of being anything less than perfect filled me with anxiety. I honestly didn’t know how to let go.

My aunt held my hand and assured me that simply being aware and wanting change was enough. It would just start to happen. I didn’t have to figure it all out right now.

As I climbed into bed, confused yet willing to finally surrender, I made a list. Part of me was still interested, curious to uncover something deeper. I wrote down five things I wanted or wanted to be. I then asked “Why?” and listed the reasons. I underlined all the key words and totted up the ones that came up most frequently.

Certain wishes kept repeating themselves, like: I want to be respected. I want people to want to be with me. I want to be admired. I want to feel good about myself. I want to be confident. I want to be loved.

I then asked myself if I could give myself any of those things right now, today. If I could love, respect and admire myself, I would feel good about myself and I would be confident. It would be easy and pleasurable to be with myself.

If I could give myself all of these things, I wouldn’t have to try so hard, work so hard, beat myself up so much, worry, stress or doubt myself. I could skip the difficult, exhausting steps that stood between me and what I really want.

What affirmation can I tell myself whenever I feel scared or disgusted with myself, when I push myself too hard or give out to myself for not doing enough?

I love you, Sharon.” Even though I felt ridiculous, I looked myself in the eyes and spoke through the tears: “I love you, Sharon.”

This morning, I pull out pen and paper and start to write. I huff with annoyance because it isn’t perfect. I get out of bed and appraise myself in the full-length mirror. I feel angry because my belly protrudes over too-short pyjama bottoms. Then it hits me.

Would I ever give out to another human being because their pyjamas had shrunk in the wash? No. I feel sorry for this lost little girl who’s grown up believing that she has to be perfect in order to be approved of and loved.

I remember an article I read recently by Brynn Andre. Brynn had freed herself from her food addiction and lost lots of weight. She finally felt good about herself. Until she started to focus on one of her teeth. Her “snaggletooth” was a tooth that was slightly crooked. She fussed over it, stopped smiling, and considered paying out lots of money to fix it.

One day, Brynn visits her poor, sick grandmother who is still so beautiful and dignified. Her grandmother smiles as Brynn enters the room. And then she sees it. Her beautiful grandmother has a snaggletooth too. And she is perfect. Brynn feels foolish. She asks herself if she would ever speak to her grandmother in such an awful, critical manner? The answer was definitely not.

What way are you speaking to yourself? Are your standards ridiculously high? Are you withholding self-love because of your expectations and demands for perfection? Would you ever speak to a child or grandparent that way? Give your inner child some unconditional love. And honour and respect your Higher Self. And the next time you feel angry or dissatisfied with yourself, repeat this mantra: “I love myself completely now.” You deserve your love and gentleness today.

For more articles on perfection, read the following:

Permission to be Imperfect by Dr Lissa Rankin

Perfection is a Disease by Sharon Vogiatzi

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