Finding happiness is not as elusive as many would make you believe – actually in my mind I believe it's real simple. It comes down to practicing gratitude, developing an attitude of acceptance and releasing the need to be perfect.
There is a quote I adore:
“Lighten up on yourself. No one is perfect. Gently accept your humanness." Deborah Day
I love this quote as it gently reminds me that it is ok to make mistakes, fail miserably and risk appearing the fool
Today I wanted to take a little time and discuss something that so many people struggle with, and that is the constant battle for achieving perfection.
Is fear of failure or trying to be perfect holding you back?.
The truth is, that while perfect and bulletproof are seductive, they don’t exist in the human experience.
Author Brene Brown writes so truthfully and beautifully about the endless pursuit of seeking perfection in her book Daring Greatly. She reminds us that we must walk into the arena, whatever it may be—a new relationship, an important meeting, our creative process, or a difficult family conversation—with courage and the willingness to engage. Rather than sitting on the sidelines and hurling judgment and advice, we must dare to show up and let ourselves be seen. This is vulnerability. This is daring greatly. This is being brave enough to drop perfection so that we can live life to the fullest
The quest for perfection is exhausting and unrelenting, and as hard as we try, we find it extremely difficult to turn off that negative voice in our heads “Never good enough” and “What will people think?”
Why, when we know that there’s no such thing as perfect, most of us waste an enormous amount of time and energy trying to be something to everyone?
Is it that we really admire perfection? No I don't think this is the case at all. I believe that we all connect with authenticity and are actually drawn to people who are real and down-to-earth.
We get sucked into thinking we have to be perfect for two simple reasons:
- We believe perfection will protect us. Perfectionism is the belief that if we live perfect, look perfect, and act perfect, we can minimise or avoid the pain of blame, rejection, judgment, and shame.
- Mainstream culture teaches and encourages perfection. Think back to the school classroom and how the good students are awarded the gold star. Unless your parents were left wing hippies, most of us are taught to be competitive and perfect from a very early age.
Today's culture has taught us to live from the ego, where we need to feel worthy, accepted and have a sense of belonging. This endless pursuit, in quest of perfection, is often the cause behind the depression, stress, unhappiness and limiting beliefs in many people’s lives.
Perfectionism is not the same thing as striving to be our best. Unlike healthy achievement and personal growth, perfectionism is a shield that we use to protect ourselves; it is the one thing that stops us from living an authentic life which is aligned with who we truly are deep within.
Stop trying to be other people’s definition of perfection
Living in a society that floods us with unattainable expectations around every topic imaginable, from how we should look to how we should raise our children, putting down the perfection shield is scary. Finding the courage to move from “What will people think?” to “I am enough,” is not easy. But however afraid we are of change, the question that we must ultimately answer is this:
What’s the greater risk? Letting go of what people think — or letting go of how I feel, what I believe, and what matters most to me?
If you stop trying to please other people by trying to meet their definitions of perfect, you take a lot of weight off your shoulders.
You have the choice to break free from the expected perfection in our society. You have the choice to not follow a system where other people tell you how to live and what you can and cannot do. You have the choice to allow your inner creative the freedom to express it's own true nature.
So, how do we cultivate the courage and compassion to embrace our own imperfections and to recognize that we are enough? How do we teach ourselves to believe that we are worthy of love, belonging, and happiness?
You need to break free from the perfection mould
Releasing the need for perfection is a tough journey as it requires you to put your vulnerability on the line. Here are some of my favourite ways that have helped me break free from the need of perfection:
- Share your authentic story: If you want to live and love with your whole heart and engage in the world from a place of worthiness, your first step is practicing the courage it takes to own your stories and tell the truth about who you are. It doesn’t get braver than that. Don’t let the self-limiting and false belief of “I am not talented or good enough” hold you back from expressing yourself. Sharing your authentic thoughts and stories is what connects you on a deeper level to others. It requires you to step up and become the change you want to see in the world around you.
- Take responsibility for your emotions: Develop emotional stability by living in an awareness of your emotions and thoughts. People and experiences can’t physically make you feel ‘not good enough’ – we do that for ourselves. Never ever disempower yourself by handing over your power and worth to something outside of yourself.
- Stop comparing yourself to others: When we measure our own life and successes against another person we often are left with a feeling of ‘not good enough’. Never make the mistake of comparing your own unique life against another’s, as it will only leave you feeling weak and unmotivated.
- Redefine beauty and success: Don’t allow yourself to get lost in the noise and fluff of superficial beauty and the false definition of success – define your own eye for beauty and ideals of success.
- Don't take life to serious: So many of us are to busy either making something of ourselves or trying to be everything to everybody that we forget to have fun. Who cares if things fall apart, don't turn out how you expect or you make a fool of yourself. Who cares if people don't like you, simply drop them from your life so that you can create space to attract the right kind of people. Learn to dust yourself off, have a good laugh, learn from the experience and do it all again.
- Live in alignment to your own true nature: For me personally I noticed the greatest shift when I started living in alignment to my true beliefs and code of ethics, even when it clashed with mainstream thinking. When you are not living in alignment to your truth, you feel fake and it is easy for outside circumstances to rattle you. However, when you are living purposefully and doing things of substance, no matter what others think of you it honestly does not affect you because you feel so good that you are "doing whats right instead of whats expected". It is very self-empowering to drop all expectations and start living with substance. You definitely should give it a go sometime.
- Care less about what others think of you: What others say to you has absolutely no meaning unless you attach a meaning to it. Any negativity that you come across from others that isn't constructive criticism - just drop it and move on. People who are hurting inside or are not happy within find a sense of empowerment when they bring other people down to their level. Whilst it is noble to try and understand them and help them, it is equally crucial that you protect your energy so you don't go down with them.
- Realise that there is more than one perfect outcome: Yes, from time to time things don't work out how we hoped. Be graceful in letting go the things that are not meant for you. Growth and expansion can be obtained from every situation. Learn to have a sense of detachment and peace to outcomes, understanding that everything has its own rhyme, reason and purpose, and some things may just take time.
- Seek your own answers: Learn to look within yourself for your own answers, for all the wisdom you ever need already resides within you – as you. Yoga, meditation and taking alone moments to sit in self-reflection are some of the best ways to quieten the mind so you can actually ask the questions and hear the answers
- Honour yourself: Love and appreciate your mind, body and soul. Each day give it gratitude for what it does for you. Drop that endless pursuit of always striving and never arriving - instead just take a moment to stop and stand still. Marvel at just how perfect you truly are - reminding yourself that you have unique talents, gifts and experiences to offer others. You are a divine being just as you are - never let the world try and convince you otherwise.
- View everything as perfect: No matter how bad something becomes everything is on purpose and in perfect order. You are not alone in this journey, you have a divine light guiding you at all times and it can be called on whenever you need it. Maybe you have rubbed up with this divine light from time to time, I know I certainly have and I KNOW in my heart of heart that everything is on purpose just as it is. Your ultimate power lies in your ability to receive wisdom and insight from every situation and experience, and to truly take the lessons learnt so that you can grow and evolve.
- Forgive yourself and others: Be forgiving of others, but most importantly, know how to forgive yourself. Choose to not strive for perfection, instead look for enrichment and experience.
- Drop the competitive edge: Do not compete against others, instead collaborate with others. There is enough of everything to go around. Let it come to you organically instead of trying to compete, strive and force it to you.
Live each day by your own truths and standards, remaining totally unaffected and undefined by the outside world.Don’t judge your own self-worth based on the opinions of the outside world, instead judge it on whether you live with compassion, love and passion. Live a humble life of grace and creativity, embracing your own authenticity and letting go of the need to be accepted by others.
Stop trying to be perfect and start living a more creative and expressive life. The world is waiting to hear your truth.