Perfection can really bite

Perfection isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

There’s nothing wrong with aiming for perfection or trying to be excellent. The desire to get things right isn’t a harmful one, not in the least.

Being your best self means that you are willing to do the work you need to do to embellish yourself. It’s validating and satisfying to know that you did your best. It is helpful to have a meaningful goal to work towards. It’s really fun to grow.

However, if perfection itself becomes the goal, you run the risk of losing your spiritual vision, which is your ability to see clearly. You can get stuck in the search for perfection. You can lose your permission to play, experiment, and create.

You might forget that making mistakes helps you to learn and grow.

As we get older and more responsible, more self important, and more enmeshed in those self images or the images we think we need to have, it’s easy to forget how to experiment and play.

Experimentation requires us to risk making mistakes, except that when we are experimenting, it’s never a mistake.

One of the very best things I learned in art school was the ability to say “it’s an experiment”. Teachers in my studio art classes would tell us to ‘make a lot of experiments’, which translates to ‘keep making art’.

You never know when an experiment might turn into a brilliant discovery. You just have to keep experimenting.

Artists of all kinds know that you have to show up and do the work and then do it again tomorrow, even if nothing appears to be working. Painters and writers know this, as do yogis, acrobats, actors, and anyone who wants to create change in the world, or in themselves. The two are not mutually exclusive.

The work may look awful, it might not look like anything is improving or growing or changing, but you need to show up and get through the perfect energy, in order to get anywhere. You need to have permission to make a mess, you need to give yourself permission to fail.

It gets scary when there is more at stake, and it’s hard to risk any of what you’ve already achieved. When you’re afraid of letting go of something that is already great or perfect, it’s difficult to move on and create something new.

It’s kind of like playing your greatest hits over and over: soon they become oldies.

The energy of perfection can become static, stuck, non-moving.

The demand to be perfect all of the time is a fear based way of doing things. Someone who needs to appear perfect at all times is often hiding behind a mask of pain, or shame. There is no room to simply be, when one is stuck in having to also be perfect.

When you operate from a fear of other people’s judgments, the result is that your own natural energy and life force are frozen, and unavailable for you to use. No movement = no growth.

Perfect demands that you hang onto things, instead of letting them go in order to create something new.

Perfect has a hard time seeing the beauty that is already present, in the search for an ideal of beauty. Perfect constantly judges and weighs, accepting or dismissing based on subjective criteria.

Perfect can make it hard to trust one’s instincts.

You are already perfect, as you are. You were born this way, with all of your quirks, unique spirit and personality, way of seeing and experiencing the world. You have a unique viewpoint that is needed, as is.

When you give yourself breathing room to be and let go of perfect, you allow others around you to do the same. This is healing for everyone.

©Kris Cahill
Image: ‘Croc’ ©KevinZim on Flickr

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