The impossible ideal of perfection

One of the difficult things for so many people, including myself, is this struggle with perfectionism, this idea of trying to make everything perfect, which maybe needs a better name, because it really does not seem to lead to anything close to perfection.
And clearly anybody looking from outside can look at me, or anybody else I assume, and see that clearly we are not perfect.
Very far from it.
But what is this force that we have, this drive, this voice inside our head that seems to always be demanding perfection? It’s like even without consciously aiming toward some idea of perfection – because if we think about it we can see that it’s not really attainable – but there’s like something inside that looks for every possible mistake, looks for every possible shortcoming, and compares the way things are with some kind of ideal state.
And we see this all the time.
People are comparing to the ideal.
Somehow everything is falling short of an ideal.
And there’s a lot of positives to this, that if we aim for an ideal, that can be very powerful, that we have a goal, we have some kind of vision of what is good, and then we aim towards it.
So maybe perfectionism is something that can be held in some way in some kind of vision of a possible future.
But reality, actual actions, actual events, are so far away from this ideal that real-life real actions that we can take day by day: it seems like we’d really do better in our day-to-day actions to just forget about the idea of being perfect.
I mean it really just hits me sometimes how, you know, bad things happen, inconvenient, unpleasant mistakes happen, and there’s just this kind of nagging anxiety that’s like “Ah, that’s not right.
Your life is wrong.” And I look through my past, and really in so many ways there’s so many things that take away from it being a good past story.
There’s so many dumb things and pointless distractions and things that don’t seem to make any sense, and the narrative arc is terrible, and still all these things just don’t line up according to the ideal.
So I’m finding that one thing that I really have to train myself in is simply being able to let go of the ideal.
As much as we can use this vision of what is perfect, what is right, what is pure and good, this can be a guide, somehow kind of a guiding light, but it’s always a vision far off on the horizon.
It’s like the sun, maybe.
You know, we never actually reach the sun.
We don’t feel bad because we cannot reach the sun, because we know that it’s always too far away to reach.
But somehow with ideals, we kind of feel that, you know, it is possible.
And maybe we hold on to that one long shot, that you know, if I make every decision correctly, and I continue to make the best possible decisions, I can attain the ideal.
Of course also with a lot of luck.
But what kind of standard are we holding up to ourselves? And then just feeling this sense of falling and being just a failure because we cannot reach the impossible distant target of perfection? So what I’m gonna try now is to maybe just remind myself that perfection, anything that smells like perfection, anything that looks like an ideal of doing everything right continuously: this can only be seen as some kind of a star in the ultimate distance, and we can use it to guide ourselves.
But you know, when I look at my life, I see nothing near perfection, and maybe I just have to accept that that is OK.
So I’d be curious to hear how you feel about this topic.

#perfectionism #impossibleideal #imperfect

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