Is it a question that has already crossed your mind at least once? Well, what does “perfection” mean to you? Is it a blur? Is it a concept or a goal after which you have been running all these years, and that you need to apply to all aspects of your existence? Maybe someone told you when you were a kid that everything has to be perfect? Today, do you firmly believe that if you cannot do it in a flawless way, it is not even worth the shot? How many judgments must you construct to say that someone or something is perfect, or imperfect for that matter? Based on what value system can you make those judgments? Did you develop your own set of values or did you embrace truths that were imposed on you?
::: Is perfection a lure?
Growing up, Mary Beth spent countless hours during weekends, locked inside her bedroom, hearing her parents and their “friends,” all adepts of the “lifestyle,” having group sex while watching pornographic movies, downstairs, in the living room. One Saturday night, at the end of a party, her parents forgot to unlock her door. The morning after, noticing that her parents were not there and not wanting to be late at her ballet class, she jumped from the second floor of their house, and broke her leg. Neighbors took care of her and brought her to the hospital. When I met her, she was forty-two and still limping. She resented her parents for the kind of relationship that they had created for themselves, and from which, she, in her mind, had ultimately become a victim. I asked her what her judgments about her parents’ relationship were. She said, “Selfish, perverted, gross, indecent, narcissistic, obscene, and sickening. When I had to go live with my grandparents after I broke my leg, I swore to myself that I would never be like my parents. I swore to myself that I would have a perfect marriage.”
She went to New York University, graduated with a PhD in Child Counseling, met Bart at a Bible study group, married him a year later, had two kids, became highly involved in the community, drove the kids to all their activities, prepared meals for her husband, went on family vacations, never fought with Bart, never raised her voice while talking to the kids, etc. She had her perfect relationship, so far removed from what she had experienced growing up around her parents. Moreover, in the community, people viewed Mary Beth and Bart as having the perfect relationship and the perfect family. That was until the day Mary Beth received an unexpected visit from the police. Bart had been arrested during his lunch break, caught masturbating in his car, while parked outside of a girls’ school a few miles away from their home. When I worked with her, she had just been released from the hospital after a second suicide attempt. Her insatiable goal to build a perfect relationship in reaction to her parents’ had led her to do everything which, in this society, is considered proper and appropriate. Yet, she realized the hard way that all the judgments she had of her parents actually applied to her own husband, and, therefore, that her marriage was not perfect.
::: Is the thirst for perfection ruling your life?
“To be perfect” is “to be entirely without fault or defect.” It also means “to correspond to an ideal standard or an abstract concept.” Would you like to be challenged to find anyone you know, who does not have the slightest fault, or defect? Perfection simply does not exist. It is an abstract concept. Thus, do you think that the search for perfection prevents you from being what you can be, and consequently from moving on with your life? Deep inside, Mary Beth stills thinks that she can have a perfect relationship with another man. However she is still traumatized by what happened with Bart, so she refuses to date, fearing that she will re-live the same experience all over again. How entrapping and limiting is her position? Why doesn’t she want to learn once for all from such a dreadful experience and change those values and beliefs that are keeping her stuck? She knows better, and yet she refuses to change her viewpoint. Her thirst for perfection, something that is impossible, is greater than maintaining her sanity.
How many books, screenplays, and business plans did you start to write before giving up, because at some point you judged that your work was not good enough, not attractive enough, and ultimately not perfect? How many amazing opportunities have you sacrificed, because of your absolute necessity to be perfect, to be someone, or something that cannot even exist? Perfection does not exist. Thus, to demand of someone or something to be perfect is totally insane. To demand of your own self to be perfect is even more insane. It does not work. How many people are currently trying to control your life by forcefully making you believe that you need to be perfect at all times? In reality, what is their covert goal? Is it to corner you, so you systematically fear the idea of creating and putting anything out there? Fear is a wonderful way to contain all the aspirations that an individual may have in life. It paralyzes. It never galvanizes. When you are afraid, stagnation and regression are the sole outcomes. When you are scared, you cannot create superb relationships with others. And you certainly cannot create a harmonious relation with yourself.
The search for perfection is an endless quest. People who embrace it often times use it as a distraction, so they never have to look at the ramifications of their choices. They are only consumed by the obsession of being perfect. Have you ever met someone who prides himself or herself on being perfect or doing things perfectly? What energy did you sense? I would seriously doubt that it was calm, expansive and empowering.