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The Joy of Imperfection

February 28, 2019 | Rachel Velishek, LPCC

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We often hold onto the belief that we need to be perfect and if we’re not, we have failed. As if the inability to do everything means we can’t do anything. That belief can paralyze us and prevents us from doing anything at all. Humans are not designed to be perfect. We make mistakes, we learn, and we move on. When a person is able to believe in themselves, anything is possible. There is joy in living an imperfect life.

If you want a guaranteed, simple, effective method to achieve disappointment then strive for perfection. Striving for perfection is the most direct route to unhappiness because perfection does not exist.

Perfection is an illusion. What we see when we see perfection is not real. When we look deeper and find out that the perfection we thought we saw never really existed, we are left feeling disappointed. The search for perfection leaves us in a never-ending cycle of disappointment and unhappiness.

When a person dedicates time to strive for perfection, they often focus on their own shortcomings. They disqualify the positives they have achieved and exaggerate any negatives. A person who strives for perfection may think they are flawed and they, therefore, need to be flawless to be comparable to others.

Very often a person who is insecure is more sensitive to the perceived judgments of others. They react to the opinions of others not based on fact but on their personal self-image. Time, energy, and effort is spent focusing on the perceived necessary details to achieve perfection and as a result, a person misses out on the opportunities in the present moment.

Chasing perfection prevents a person from experiencing real life. The things that cannot be controlled or measured and the non-tangible items like the development of friendships, laughter with loved ones, jumping in rain puddles, and just getting dirty are missed when chasing perfection. A person needs to allow themselves the opportunity to not control everything, to experience the unexpected, focus on the present moment, laugh without a script, get wet from the puddles, get dirt under their nails, let clothes get stained or wrinkled, and maybe just maybe let a pillow be out of place on the couch. It is okay to fail. It is okay to make a mistake. A person can be late and a person can color outside of the lines. Experience it, learn from it, and allow those moments to make you better, try harder, and develop new skills or routines that are more effective.

A person’s pursuit of perfection is very often a disguise for their own insecurities. It is a cover-up for doubt and their belief that they are not good enough as they are. A person then dedicates time to judging themselves, masking what the real issue is. Focusing on achieving the false idea of perfection, is avoidance of the underlying fear: fear of failure, fear of disappointment, fear of rejection, fear of not being enough. That fear prevents a person from truly living and experiencing the present moment.

There is never a perfect time or day to implement change or to stop chasing the false idea of perfection. The best time is right now. If you are tired of feeling disappointed and exhausted from the effort required to create the false image of perfection then try this:

Stop. Sit. Breathe.

Give yourself the time you deserve, evaluate your life, appreciate what you presently have, and relax. Allow yourself to be content in the moment. The only perfection is in truly being present, yet, a perfectionist is never present. A perfectionist is always thinking of what to do, worrying about judgment, criticizing, and analyzing. It is ironic that the closest thing to perfection is being 100 percent present in the moment and the ones who struggle being present are those who strive for perfection.

“Brave people don’t stop hearing the whispers of fear. They hear the whispers but take action anyway,” Annie F. Downs.

Rachel Velishek is a licensed professional clinical counselor with Fisher-Titus Behavioral Health, Fisher-Titus Medical Park 2, Suite C, 282 Benedict Ave., Norwalk. Her office can be reached at 419-668-0311. For more information on Fisher-Titus Behavioral Health, visit fishertitus.org/behavioral-health.