Chris here taking finger to keyboard to write to you about something that has been destroying my and possibly your happiness.
That thing is trying to be perfect. Always. In everything.
Reality TV tells us that it is right and fitting to criticize and mock people who possess perceived imperfections and that if we do the same, we are somehow better than they are….for the moment.
This practice fails to take into account what happens to the one mocking. One cannot study others for “imperfections” and mock them without ultimately turning this destructive weapon back on himself.
A person gets into this mode when he, himself has been studied and mocked for his perceived imperfections. This is a downward spiral of destruction that destroys lives and civilizations.
A civilization filled with people who try desperately not to give anyone else any imperfection to mock has just stalled itself completely. No one will act. No one will create because no one is perfect in everyone’s eyes. And no one wants to be mocked.
Whenever you put yourself, your opinion, or your work out there, you are inviting this destructive behavior because you dared to put something of yourself out in public view.
Gleefully the masses pull out their razor blades and get started shredding your soul for the grand sin of having presented something.
This is insanity. This is destruction. It is covert and vicious and it has a lasting effect.
Anyone who has grown up in a family of highly critical people or has been around them in schools or in a relationship with one, is likely to have developed a propensity to study himself for anything that anyone would take exception to and try to correct it before anyone else does.
Most of this goes on unconsciously. You may just feel like you are on guard but inside your head, you are frantically scanning for anything someone else might find objectionable and trying to fix it yourself.
This is how I have been.
Unfortunately it has not just affected me. I can see where I have tried to hold this impossible standard up to others close to me. It is a standard that no one can ever live up to, least of all myself.
I did this without knowing it and continued the destructive practice in my own head. I only hope I did not communicate it to others because there is nothing good that comes from sending someone the idea that they are not good enough even if you never state it flat out.
Signs you are a perfectionist
You are extremely hard on yourself.
Others think way more of your accomplishments than you do.
You forget the good things you have done and focus on the failures.
One small error will ruin your view of your creation.
You stop creating because you are afraid it won’t measure up to your standards.
No matter how great something is that you have created, you can always find fault with it.
You do not put your work out in public because you know it is not good enough.
You hold others up to impossible standards too.
You find yourself unhappy more often than happy.
There is always something wrong with your life
What can we do?
Realize how you got this way.
Chances are that there was someone or several people in your environment who have constantly criticized you and made you feel that nothing you did was right.
Or it may have been someone who used sarcasm or snarky humor to ridicule you if you slipped up. Whatever it was it had a sharp barb in it that stung enough to make you want to avoid it.
The fear of a negative and painful reaction of someone you care about can put you in a mode of desperately trying to find and correct anything that could be perceived as an error before it was noticed.
This sets up a method of operating that, despite the offending person not being present, becomes a lifelong habit that introverts us and destroys our happiness.
Scan through your life and make a list of these people.
Start from early childhood and come froward in time. Look at relatives, day care providers, teachers, friends, anyone who you felt inhibited around.
Review their past behavior with today’s eyes.
Which among them always left you with a bitter aftertaste? which ones made you feel stupid, unclean or inferior?
It is unfortunate that grown ups, at least when I was growing up, felt free to belittle and ridicule children without fear of reprisal. There were many of these people in my life. They felt they did not have to use manners because I was a child.
Then decide if it is worth it to keep them in your life.
If their behavior has not changed toward you or if they are unable or unwilling to look at their behavior and make a change for the better, purge them from your life.
If they are family and you feel you cannot walk away, severely limit your contact with them and when you are with them, always have an exit strategy.
Some of them might be able to change.
If at any point, one of these people decides to make a change, you can have them do the same exercise. People treat others the way they have been treated and sometimes they need tools to recognize this propensity and change their lives.
If you are able to help them, you may be able to make them a lot happier too.
Recognize that you are perfect in an imperfect world.
We are all perfect at our core. It just so happens that this physical world we live in is completely incompatible with who and what we are. We do not fit here and I am sure everyone has had that feeling at one time or another.
The universe is fundamentally flawed. Know this and understand it. It’s not you that is the problem.
Give yourself permission to be imperfect
I used to have some idea of those who went out and did great things. I thought they were perfect and once they achieved perfection they then went out and conquered the world. This is laughable.
The people I knew who have done great things knew they were not perfect and had no inhibitions about doing and presenting things.
The people who criticize your work and your ideas, are not the ones doing anything of note themselves. Who cares what they think?
It only ever matters what you think so give yourself and break.
Let go of perfection. It doesn’t exist in this universe. Love yourself for your magnificent “flaws” which may actually be the things that make you most lovable.
And the next time someone criticizes you, show them this article and let them know they are not expected to be perfect either.
I hope this helps.