I start projects on a regular basis with a definite picture in my head of what the outcome “should” be.  I want to plant my garden with the perfect design, or find just the perfect gift for someone I love, or make a business decision that was the perfect thing to do at just the perfect time. I have even been known to abandon projects when they aren’t perfect.
Sounds unreasonable?  It is.  It is also the cause of lots of stress and anxiety.  I talk with enough people, and read the contents of the latest self-help books, to know I’m not alone.
This picture of how life “should” be gets bigger and bigger with the desire for the perfect relationship, children, finances, family, house, and… and… and.  This constant stretch to reach perfection is a quest so many people find themselves on.
So why do we do it?  Why do we hold such rigorous standards for ourselves that are impossible to reach?  Good question.  I’m so glad you asked!
Some people say we expect perfection, because that’s what society has told us we “should” strive for. That somehow that makes us good enough, more likable, and desirable.  Some people say it is because we are ashamed of how inadequate we know we are, and we are afraid to let anyone see the real truth hiding within.  And so, we create a front to hide behind, hoping that we can pass as someone who has it all together.  Other people say we do this because we have low self-esteem and a negative view of ourselves and everything we do.  We sometimes don’t even see the good in ourselves because our vision is blocked by gray colored glasses we wear when evaluating who we really are.  When speaking with someone who desires perfection they will likely tell you it is because perfection is a beautiful thing.  They are exhausted and spent, but feel responsible for a beautiful outcome.
I think it’s probably a combination of all of that.  A great big swirl of unrealistic expectations, exhaustion and shame.  It’s a rather painful place, to say the least.
So what’s to be done about all of this?  Lots.  The first thing to do is to accept that perfection doesn’t exist.
Seriously.  It. Does. Not. Exist.
We can’t get it all right all the time.  Have you ever met a perfect person?  Me neither.  Do you think you would like them if you did?  I know I wouldn’t…  I’d feel super inadequate up against someone who never had to deal with making it through the day with coffee stains down their shirt, or a bank balance that wasn’t where I wanted it to be, or a zillion other reasons I can think of….
Maybe being perfect isn’t the goal.  The day I realized that was a life-changing day!
Think about the people you connect with and admire.  Is it their perfect qualities that draw you in, or rather their ability to accept who they are without harsh judgment?  Don’t you absolutely love being with people who don’t require you to be perfect and they accept you anyway?  Aren’t we more attracted to authenticity and people who can be real about what they do well AND what they don’t?
So come on, let’s move out of those rigid requirements we hold for ourselves.  Move into a softer, kinder, and gentler place.  When you begin to think something “should” be a certain way.  Ask yourself, “says who”?  Most often the answer is only the voice inside our own head.
We absolutely have the power to modify our thoughts and to let life get easier.  Oh yeah, we do!
Progress, not perfection,
Rosemary

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