Among people I know and work with, one of the biggest causes of unhappiness that I see is the pursuit of perfection.
People are mean to themselves when they don’t hit ‘perfect’, or if they hit ‘perfect’ and then find that they can’t keep it up.
When this happens people are being mean to themselves for being human and real.
It’s not surprising that we often think of perfection as normal and hate ourselves when we miss. We are surrounded by images that portray perfection as a normal everyday occurrence.
The media and social media often depict images of beautiful people getting it right; and living lives where perfection is portrayed as easily attainable. Whether it’s maintaining a difficult exercise regime, constantly eating a healthy diet (whipping something ‘easy’ up in 10 mins which would take me at least 40!); looking amazing, looking happy; achieving lots; balancing commitments; being a brainbox; being successful in love; being successful in your work and career, being a fabulous parent, the media is full of stories of people who can do it all, and do it all easily.
I’m far from perfect. When I worked in an office my messy desk was legendary. I have to work hard to be organised and sometimes I miss. Sometimes I’m too tired to cook healthy and I struggle to lose weight. There were times as a new mum that I didn’t get out till 4pm and my clothes had sick on them. Although I try my hardest now, I’m —definitely— still not a perfect parent.
I don’t believe it’s possible for any human being to be perfect. At times in our lives, if we are lucky, we might do some things really well or get things ‘spot-on’ but it’s irrational to think that these standards can always be maintained.
Counselling is something that can help this process, counselling doesn’t turn us into perfect people. It can help us learn to like and accept ourselves as we really are; and this can free us up to be happy; and, ironically, to achieve more. Things become much easier to do when we aren’t worried about them being perfect.
So how can we be happier? Well, for a start it might help if we had expectations of ourselves that were realistic. If we could believe the real version of ourselves was lovable and acceptable.
And in embracing the new imperfect you, try not to worry about being unacceptable or unlikeable. In my experience imperfect people are very easy to like. I’m always much more comfortable with imperfect real people, it feels more honest… and… I feel more at home…………