Trying to be perfect is a big endeavor. Even if it is not possible it seems the right thing to pursue. If you are a perfectionist, not pursing this is being complacent or settling for less than best. The only problem with this pursuit is that often it is the chasing of a moving target, and it can leave us exhausted, depressed and without joy. At the root of many psychological diagnoses of anxiety related disorders and depression is perfectionist thinking.
Possibly there is a blueprint of perfection in our DNA. Living between a perfect Eden and Heaven, we exist in a flawed imperfect world where there is decay, death, sickness and brokenness in relationships. We long for perfection---we can almost smell it. But things always fall short somehow.
My children attend Belair Elementary School. Arriving early to pick my son up from sports practice I hear Coach D encouraging the kids about doing their personal best. I like that. Not being the best, not competing with others, but competing with yourself---being YOUR best. So what about pursuing your personal best in a less pressured gentler way?
Start with acknowledging how you are thinking about things. What is your perspective? Why is that perspective working for you and why isn’t it? Do you have a friend who seems more at ease, less stressed, more joyful? How might they look at these things? On the other hand, if you have a son or a daughter or even a friend who is hard on themselves---maybe beating themselves up or just exhausted from his or her pursuits--what would you tell them? Now, take that advice yourself.
Talking to yourself in 3rd person can be very helpful. It helps us zoom out, see the bigger picture, and take a different more helpful perspective. Often we have the best advice for ourselves---we just need to find a way to access it and write it down so we can be mindful in our pursuits.
I hope you will be your personal best and be satisfied with good enough all at the same time. I hope you will be at peace, rest and full of joy, satisfied with a job well done. I hope you will find a perspective that helps you give up without throwing in the towel. To let go of of being perfect without calling it quits.
Jill M. Lillard, MA LPC