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The Tyranny of Perfection

  • Perfection is beautiful, graceful, what we want. Or is it? And it’s about as possible as the moon turning green. As someone who was a born perfectionist, I found out some things over the years. The pursuit of perfection will end up owning you. Here are some things the endless pursuit of elusive “perfection” will bring to your life –

  • No matter how fast you run or hard you work, it will never be enough.

  • It never lasts for very long. So if you get it, take a picture of it because it’s not permanent.

  • On a list of twenty items, if you get nineteen right and one wrong, you’ll punish yourself for the one wrong thing and forget the nineteen you did well.

  • Comparison separates. There will always be someone more “perfect” than you and you’ll wear out your shoes running to keep up. It’s only when you realize it that you stop running.

  • Our culture has got it completely wrong, as usual.

  • That one seemingly-perfect person may be a hot mess on the inside behind the mask. What you see isn’t always what you get.

  • Be careful what you go after, because you just might get it. I know someone who shattered everyone to get what they thought they wanted. Well, they’ve got what they thought they wanted now, and their life has been filled with misery. That's what believing in "perfection" will do for you - make you destroy everything leaping over the edge of the rainbow to try to grasp what doesn't exist.

  • Perfection is rooted in shame. Shame destroys.

  • Perfection separates people from the healing they could give each other.

  • Vulnerability and authenticity are anti-perfection (and anti-shame). When you’re able to be real, you don’t need to be perfect. You can just be you.

  • How many hours a day do we strive to reach something that doesn’t even exist?

  • Own your life or your life will own you.

  • Life’s irony is that we become better and stronger and more real just as we begin to own our true selves….the mixed bag of mistakes, fears, failures, strengths, joys, accomplishments. They all combine to make us who we are. The pursuit of perfection destroys that. When are we going to own it?

  • There’s a saying – “You can’t take it away from me if I give it to you first.” Phil Robertson, patriarch of famed “Duck Dynasty”, learned this lesson…poachers were threatening his family’s livelihood by stealing his fish. He finally began to give the poachers his fish. Their shame burned their faces and they stopped. I learned something – when I own my mistakes, when I own my fears, when I admit I’m afraid or I am overwhelmed, my "self" can't be taken away from me. What we truly own, we can afford to give away. I find others gravitate towards realness and authenticity. They want to see me being human, because they just want to be human too – not trying to be glacially perfect. They also want to know that I'm not expecting perfection from them, either.

  • On the other hand, if I try to portray myself as always-poised, always-perfect, perfection repels people. I know it certainly repels me. They can’t relate to it and are alienated by it. I know I can’t relate to someone trying to one-up me, trying to prove how so-called “perfect” they are. Let’s be imperfect – and real – together. This is where we begin to own our lives and they stop owning us. This is where connection is built. Perfection is about tyranny; it tyrannizes us and keeps us in a shame-based box of never feeling like enough. We are enough, and we need each other.

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