Which of us doesn’t want to have a good life? Who doesn’t want to be enough? With a lovely house and garden, sweet children, a loving spouse, who come together for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. A life filled with good friends who celebrate over an elaborate meal and extended family that come together often with smiles and hugs. A life with a rewarding job that appreciates your work and brings out your best.
While these scenarios might be things that people dream about, they are scenes from stock photos, advertising campaigns, lifestyle shows, and social media influencers. Yet they inspire us to want to be perfect, to have perfect lives. They prey on our feelings that we are not enough. Then, for many of us, the drive to have a perfect life overwhelms.
In her book, End the Struggle and Dance With Life, Susan called the drive to always be perfect an addiction. Always having to be the best, always going above and beyond, always having to prove yourself are just ways of trying to show the world, and yourself, that you are good enough. Being a perfectionist, while it might look as if everything is fantastic, takes its toll on our health and our relationships. It can also hold us back from new opportunities.
All those images and videos we see of perfect-looking people living perfect lives only has the echo of truth in them. What we never see in those images is the mess behind the camera. The other people working behind those scenes to make the illusion seem real. So while those images make us feel as if we are less than perfect, they only represent something superficially “perfect.”
The reason our addiction to perfection can be so devastating is that we believe our self-worth is measured by our performance. But since no one is perfect, it is impossible to attain self-worth through perfection.
Trying to be perfect in everything we do is only a means to feel as if we are good enough. It’s a way to shout out to the world that we are deserving people. We put so much pressure on ourselves to be the perfect employee, the perfect friend/child/parent/lover, the perfect person that we shut out much of the satisfaction that comes with doing our best no matter what the results.
When we struggle for perfection, we miss the opportunities that come from learning from our mistakes. If we put so much pressure on ourselves to get everything done exactly right, we miss out on the process. As Susan so succinctly put it, “Are you perfect yet? Neither am I! Nor will we ever be. We are all human beings doing the very best we can. And human beings weren’t born to be perfect. We were born to learn, to grow, to expand, to love, to create, to enjoy, to see the beauty in all things…including ourselves. But we weren’t born to be perfect!”
Aiming for perfection can be damaging on a personal level. When we peg our self-worth to being perfect, none of us are able to enjoy the journey. When we focus on the perfection that others are showing off, it makes us feel stymied and “less than.” That is no way to approach the wonderful journey life has to offer.
Feelings of accomplishment and satisfaction do not come from striving to be perfect; but they do come from the process of using our inner power, beauty and love in a creative, expansive, positive and loving way.
Much of what is good in life is the process of moving forward, not the end results. And perfection is very much an end. By only concentrating on the end results, we miss out on so much of life itself, so much of what makes life worth living—working and sharing with others, appreciating our gifts, enjoying each day. When we understand that when we put in the effort, when we are grateful for the good as well as the bad, we know that we are enough and to strive for anything more will only wind up hurting us.
Susan wrote, “It helps to look at the power of ENOUGH in the context of our addiction to perfection. Here this wonderful word reminds us that when we have done our very best—win or lose—we have done enough…and we are enough. This Higher Self reminder leads us to the place of peace and fulfillment.”
Every day is a gift and living it with gratitude for all the blessings in your life can help you to see that perfection means very little in relation to everyday goodness.
Understand that the realization that you are good enough and that the results of your efforts are good enough is not an excuse to be sloppy and uncaring. It serves our sense of self to put a loving effort into whatever we do in life…but this loving effort needs to be totally detached from an addiction to perfection.
So when you feel the need to be perfect, when you feel like you are “not good enough,” stop, take a deep breath, and say to yourself, “I am good enough.” Say it out loud or under your breath. Say it until you know it is true. Because it is.