The Rise Of Perfectionism
We need self-compassion, where there is too much of anything. Our growing need for perfection is a great example of this.
As our access to information has increased, so have our options, and visibility. This influx of possibility has given us opportunity, but it has also given us a sense of perfectionism. We need the perfect thing to complete the perfect task, and to act with the perfect details. Of course, perfectionism is not new, but it has never been so widespread. It was, until now, reserved primarily for lifetime strivers. Now, you are thought a fool if you do not have the newest edition of certain software, technology, fashion or news because it is available.
Choosing A Good Life Over A Perfect One
You may be thinking, “But, isn’t this progress?” Well, I suppose in some ways it is. We are able to be more accurate in our presentation of certain events, theories, or other useful information, and that is good. However, we also feel shackled to this exactitude, and people with very good ideas, subvert the sharing of these ideas in exchange for anxiety because they believe their ideas have yet to be perfected. Little do they know that history is filled with examples of successful people, who were prepared to act using the information available to them.
To have a good life, you must be able to make the best of what is available to you. Librarians have had access to extraordinary sources of information for years, but there are many subjects on which they have no expertise. I cannot help but wonder if that is not part of their training. The secret code of librarians requires you to not attempt to know everything to avoid information overload, anxiety, and the aversion others feel towards a know-it-all.
A Self-Compassion Exercise To Transform Perfection Into Compassionate, Effective Action
Whether this code exists or not, it is a great example of how you need to apply self-compassion to your life, if you truly want to be active, and enjoy it. Remember, the self-compassion process? Notice where the tension manifests in your body. In this case, it will probably come up in your throat and stomach, as anxiety and aversion have a tendency to do.
Name the thought, feeling, or bodily sensation. In this case, perhaps the feeling is overwhelm, information overload, anxiety, or perfectionism. Then, notice how you come by it naturally. Because there is so much information available, and social media portrays so many people who seem to know everything (in reality, these so-called experts do like a bazillion takes to make one 5 minute video), I feel compelled to know just as much to perform my own obligations, which causes me suffering.
Then, soften around the tense parts or your body, and think about the compassionate action that will actually help you feel at ease. Perhaps, this will involve setting more realistic goals, or moving forward with the information that you have. Then, end this practice by being really kind to yourself. A self-hug might make you feel better, or warm cup of tea, a mindful walk, or just letting out a deep breath to let your body relax for a minute. If you cannot think of anything, just ask yourself, “How can I be kind to myself?” Don’t worry. The self is greedy. It will come up with something!
Back In Business
Then, faster than you know it, you will be back in business, moving towards your goals with greater ease. This may seem like a simple exercise, but its benefits are longstanding, and far-reaching. So, give yourself the benefit of some self-compassion today. Turn perfection into compassion, and compassion into action, but only if you want to live a productive, happy, meaningful life of adventure and fulfillment. In the end, we do not need to be perfect to live well. We just need to show up with good intention and consistency.
365 Days Of Self-Compassion. Day 181. In The Books.