Do you ever ask yourself that question? I don’t think I consciously ask myself the question but I know the answer from the incessant negative thoughts when I don’t meet my own expectations...
I don’t think we ever consciously ask ourselves this question but I personally know that I have an invisible barometer setting expectations for myself that I usually cannot meet. The reason why I say ‘usually cannot meet’ is because I’ve come to realise that I expect myself to be ‘perfect’ all the time for everything I do. Why is that?
I’m writing this article today because it was only this morning that yet again I noticed I mentally berated myself for something I did yesterday…” I should have done that better”, “I shouldn’t have let that get to me” but when I reflected upon this, I realised I don’t have those expectations of others. I did however create exceptionally high ones for myself.
I believe this idea of ‘perfect’ comes from a place of wanting achieve our full potential; to grow into the best versions of ourselves but it is often driven from a place of lack either internally and one created externally (or both).
There is the idea of ‘perfect’ is based upon many ideals namely created from society but other factors such as our upbringing, beliefs and values that develop through our lifetime which are unique to each of us. So, when did we create our perception of ‘perfect’? It may not be something you’ve considered before so if it isn’t, ask yourself that question the next time you hear yourself say “I should have done that better” – ask yourself what you would say to a friend if they said that about themselves? You could also ask “where did that ideal of perfect come from?”
One limiting belief I identified that I held was ‘not feeling good enough’ but interestingly it wasn’t about not feeling good enough compared to others, it came from a place of self – no matter what I do it is not good enough for me. It was only when I consciously recognised it that I’m now able to acknowledge and understand it. It’s still a work in progress because I was harsh on myself only yesterday however, I know that my ideal of perfect doesn’t exist but now I ask myself “can I allow myself to be a perfectly imperfect human?”.
I’ve found it helpful to remind myself that I am human (no idea what else I thought I was!) and the only way we grow is by learning and learning in itself implies making mistakes to know what not to do next time! In the Ollie model we have a belief that there is no failure only feedback so instead of “I failed at that”, we reflect on what we did well and what could be done differently so that we can improve for next time. What I often find when doing that reflection is again we’re much harsher on ourselves than when we are giving feedback to others.
What is perfect anyway? I know that the answer will vary with each person you ask because we are individually unique with unique models of the world. So, whose idea of ‘perfect’ is right? If there is no right answer can we even believe our own ideal of ‘perfect’? How do we know it to be true?
When did we create this invisible expectation bar for ourselves? Who said how high it should be? I say let’s be rebels and change our own perception of ‘perfect’ and give ourselves a break. Tea anyone?
A great musical philosopher called Beyonce once said “If everything was perfect, you would never learn and you would never grow” …
So how perfect are you?
Try something new - name something you’re doing really well today instead of something you ‘think’ you could be doing better. Notice how that feels.
Originally written and posted on Psychologies Life Labs Blog 12th December 2020