Friday, May 13, 2011

We all know the truth.  Deep down, whether we want to admit it or not, in the quiet moments before we get out of bed in the morning or as we lay ourselves down to sleep at night, the truth beckons us.  It screams out loud, “You’re not perfect”.  It reminds us of our faults, foibles, weaknesses, sins, mistakes, and mishaps of the day, week, month or years gone past.  Come on, admit it.  At least once, you’ve heard that unwanted voice 
talking to you.  Stop denying it dude, you know it’s there!

Ok, so there was a little melodramatic wording in my previous paragraph!  The point is this:  we are all imperfect whether we admit it to ourselves (others) or not.  The important questions I’d like to raise are: what happens when we try to be perfect and how do we stop trying to be perfect? 

I’d like to start with a quote from Melody Beattie who writes, “Much pain comes from trying to be perfect.”  Truer words have not been spoken!  Beattie hits the nail on the head.  Substance abuse.  Emotional upheaval.  Suicide.  Murder.  War.  Rape.  These are just a few of the awful things that our obsession perfection can illicit.  It sounds over the top but think about it.  At its extreme, Hitler decided to annihilate the Jews in order to preserve the ‘perfect race’ of Germany.  Many distraught women who have been dumped for someone else due to dissatisfaction over their body have killed themselves over that rejection of imperfection by their boyfriend.  

The reality is since none of us are perfect and we can’t be perfect.  Even more obvious, if we are not perfect then we must be imperfect.  Even more obvious than that, if we are not perfect and are therefore imperfect why do we insist on trying to be perfect?!?  I don’t have a clue to be honest.  But, I have a couple of guesses.

Our culture is my first guess.  We live in a culture that tells us to succeed at all costs and never let them see you sweat.  Culture tells us that weak is not acceptable.  It screams out the importance of vanity, strength, vitality, fiscal success, and material possessions.  It tells us that we will be perfect if do A.B.C. etc.  It lies to us. 

Peer pressure is my second guess.  When we see other people doing “well” or experiencing “success”, we often pour the pressure on ourselves to up our “game”.  We compare and contrast ourselves with celebrities, sports stars, and other famous people.  Then we feel let down when we don’t end up being Michael Jordan, Lady Gaga, or Prince William and Kate Middleton!  Interestingly the percentage of human beings who have lived in obscurity versus living famously is massive.  Fame is not the norm.  Obscurity is.  And that’s ok.  You can still have success and excellence within so called ‘obscurity.’

Last my guess is it comes from within each of us.  Deep down we all want to be loved.  We all want to be respected.  We all want to be ok.  Some of us are more aware of it then others but I think by and large that is true across races, colors, genders, sexual orientation, and religious/nonreligious practice.  It is a human thing. 

So, what is the solution to our dilemma?  Start admitting our imperfection.  Look to find freedom in not being perfect.  Tell yourself the truth that you are not perfect and that is ok.  Also, tell yourself to adopt the ideal of excellence as your standard.  Excellence is achievable.  Perfection is not.  After all, if you don’t expect to be perfect, you won’t be let down when reality proves you are not!  

- Chris Newcomb, Aftercare Coach/Coordinator

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