HOW TO BE PERFECTLY IMPERFECT.
Imperfection is perfection, right? Yet perfection is something that we seem to have an affinity for. I mean, who doesn’t want to look, act, think, or speak flawlessly?
Learn why imperfection is perfection and how to accept yourself no matter where you’re at in life.
“There is nothing more rare, nor more beautiful, than a woman being unapologetically herself; comfortable in her perfect imperfection. To me, that is the true essence of beauty.”-Steve Maraboli
I completely get why perfection is desirable. When you look around you, it seems like society constantly praises and rewards perfection. The people who get the most attention and success look perfect, e.g. celebrities, popstars, and influencers.
These people have hundreds and millions of adoring fans and followers on social media and around the world. They seem to lead perfect and happy lives. So it’s natural to desire perfection and associate it with success.
You have to be careful about the facade of perfection, however. If it was your main goal, you may be setting yourself up for disappointment.
When I got my first job as a dental hygienist, I wanted to be perfect so badly because I wanted to impress and I wanted the patients and the staff to like me.
Having that perfectionist mindset made me question my skills and whether or not I sounded convincing as I educated my patients about oral hygiene.
Lacking confidence in myself and wanting to be seen as a perfect hygienist was exhausting because I was constantly second guessing myself.
Perfection is exhausting.
“It’s exhausting and even unhealthy to constantly pursue perfection.” - Izey Victoria Odiase
The drive for perfection can be tiring because perfection is unrealistic. If you’re constantly focused on getting something perfect, it can lead to frustration.
Here are some ways perfection can be exhausting:
- Constantly criticizing yourself.
- Doubting yourself.
- Comparing yourself to others.
- Afraid of what others might think.
- Fear of failure.
- Setting a high bar for yourself.
- Procrastination because you want everything to be perfect first.
This can also cause a person to doubt their abilities if they cannot attain that perfection. Then it becomes a tiresome, self-perpetuating cycle.
Perfection can be limiting.
“There's scientific evidence for the satisficer over the maximizer. Those who just get it done will generally be happier with the outcome and will be able to be more effective than those who try to maximize every decision and they hold off on it until they have the maximal amount of information.” David Tian, Ph.D
Perfection can restrict you from taking action and making genuine connections with others.
I remember taking an English class in high school one summer. We had a paper due and I didn’t have time to polish it yet.
Someone who sat next to me asked if he could read it and I said no. I was afraid he’d think I was a terrible writer.
I could tell by his indignant reply that he thought I had snubbed him. My desire to look perfect to others blinded me to the fact that my classmate was probably reaching out for help.
If perfection is always the aim, the center of focus becomes stuck on what you didn’t accomplish. Then you miss opportunities to learn from others and from your mistakes. The drive for perfection can also steer you towards distorted and unhealthy behaviors.
Perfection can be unhealthy.
“I was born to make mistakes, not to fake perfection.” - Drake
Having a drive to achieve and succeed is fine. But if the drive stems from anxiety and self-esteem issues, then perfectionism becomes a problem.
Studies have shown that perfectionists have a higher risk of anxiety & eating disorders and depression.
If you’re constantly nitpicking at yourself, you prevent yourself from enjoying the experiences that life has to offer because perfectionism distorts thinking and perception of what’s real.
I know it’s easier than it sounds, but the best way to overcome perfectionism is to embrace imperfection.
“A certain type of perfection can only be realized through a limitless accumulation of the imperfect.” - Haruki Murakami
Accepting imperfection is likely not going to happen overnight if you are used to self-criticism and self-doubt.
It takes time, patience, and practice to let go of perfectionism. This is something that I’ve been practicing for a while, and I continue to this day.
Why we need to embrace imperfection.
I think it’s fair to say that the pursuit of perfectionism is ludicrous. If you look around you, nothing is perfect, not even Mother Nature.
Anomalies exist everywhere, in plants, in animals, and in minerals. Therefore, it’s totally natural to be imperfect.
It’s human to be imperfect
Being a human means you are an imperfect being. The sooner you accept this, the sooner you can feel liberated.
There is comfort in imperfection.
Imagine if you lived in a world where everyone looked and did everything absolutely perfectly. I don’t know about you, but I think it would either bore me to tears, drive me nuts or both.
Embracing your imperfection means accepting what is unique about you. From the way you look right down to the way you think.
Imperfection is beautiful.
Let’s take the concept of kintsugi. Kintsugi is the Japanese art of putting back together broken pieces of pottery with gold.
The idea is to create something stronger and more beautiful than the original. When we embrace all of our scars and wounds, we create opportunity for healing.
If we apply this to real life situations, embracing all parts of ourselves can lead to something more resilient, beautiful, and relatable.
We can relate to people who are imperfect.
Being imperfect is being real.
It is fundamentally human to be flawed and takes some inner strength to show vulnerability.
Once we can be more comfortable sharing our imperfections, we can make a connection and feel more at ease with others.
Have you ever met someone for the first time and felt uneasy? Then you make stories in your head and start making judgements and comparisons even before you know anything about them?
When you talk to them and get to know them better, you start to open up and feel comfortable sharing stories, even the not so perfect ones.
You discover that you have more in common with the other person than you initially thought because you were willing to embrace imperfection.
7 WAYS TO EMBRACE IMPERFECTION
“Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius, and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous, than absolutely boring.” - Marilyn Monroe
Change your perception.
In simple terms, your perception is how you process your world around you.
The way you perceive things creates your reality, which ultimately affects how you experience life.
Changing your perception is easier said than done. Oftentimes when I’m driving and someone cuts me off, I get really angry.
In the heat of my road rage, all I can think about is how I am going to get revenge on the other person because they were so rude.
It’s only in hindsight that my perception of the event changes because I’ve calmed down. Maybe the other person had to drop off her kids and doesn’t want to be late for work for the umpteenth time.
If you can practice by catching yourself in a time of self-doubt or self-criticism, you can start the journey of self-acceptance.
Embrace your flaws.
Flaws are something that we all could wish away.
But behind the flaws are almost always interesting stories.
If you’ve ever seen someone with a scar, you’re likely to wonder how it got there and what the story was behind it.
Flaws, whether they are physical, mental, or behavioral, are what make you unique and stand out.
Let go of your limiting beliefs.
Limiting beliefs are ideas that you perceive to be true but can be harmful to you.
For example, Bobby thinks he’s too old to change his career and is even fearful of the idea. This limiting belief keeps him from possibly pursuing something that has a huge payoff and opportunity for growth.
A limiting belief can be a challenge to let go of because some ideas are firmly embedded into our brains.
Once you can identify and release what is holding you back, you can replace them with new and empowering beliefs.
Define your values.
Perfection can keep you stuck where you are. Knowing what your core values are can help you focus on what is important so go after what you truly want in life.
Your core values are ideas and beliefs that are unique to, and resonate with, you.
They are not what society has dictated for you.
This doesn’t mean that you won’t ever face challenges again if you define your values.
Living a life that is defined by your values can help keep you grounded by staying connected to who you are.
Make more mistakes.
A problem that seems synonymous with perfection is the fear of making mistakes or failing. One way to remedy this is to allow yourself to make more mistakes.
Failure can be an option if you reframe it as a learning opportunity rather than a shameful loss. The more mistakes you allow yourself to make, the more you learn from them.
The more you learn, the greater your chances of honing what you’re learning.
When you allow yourself to make mistakes and fail, you actually win by constantly evolving and changing into something better.
Stop comparing yourself to others.
Comparison is one of the greatest thieves of joy, yet it happens all the time. We humans do this to see how our abilities and attributes stack up against other people.
This behavior can be destructive if it causes one to feel anxious, guilty, shameful, stressed, and depressed.
The next time you catch yourself playing the comparison game, remember that you can pick what and who you are comparing yourself to.
Sometimes you can’t avoid the thing that you’re trying to avoid and you can’t help but compare yourself to another. So in this situation, try to take a step back and give yourself space. Then gently ask yourself, “What is behind this comparison and what do I gain from it?”
Stop self-criticism and adopt self-compassion.
If comparison is the thief of joy, then criticism is the accomplice.
Self-criticism is directing hurtful words and thoughts towards yourself.
Unchecked criticism can lead to unhealthy perfectionism. A study revealed that a form of perfectionism called maladaptive perfectionism can be linked to depression.
The study suggested that self-compassion can be the buffer to this type of perfectionism-depression link.
One way to practice self-compassion is to practice mindfulness.
Mindfulness helps you confront difficult emotions and so you can direct kindness and compassion toward yourself.
Perfectionism that leads to unhealthy thoughts and behaviors is an old idea that needs to be put to rest. It’s going to take time and patience to accept yourself, flaws and all. Just like everything else, practice makes perfect when it comes to embracing imperfection.
I hope you enjoyed reading this. Please share your thoughts or tips on imperfection and perfectionism.