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It Doesn’t Need to be Perfect – Part 2

If you missed part 1, not to worry.  You can find it here.

A man would do nothing if he waited until he could do it so well that no one could find fault. –John Henry Newman


Welcome back!  In part 2 I’ll be discussing perfectionism in relationships and perfectionism of the self, as well as how you can avoid the trap of perfectionism if it’s preventing you from advancing the way you want to in your life.

Perfectionism in relationships

This is a huge problem for a lot of people (Mostly young people.) and they don’t even realize it.  But, there’s a reason for that.  It’s difficult to recognize the difference between when you’re being too picky and when your needs simply aren’t being met in a relationship because there’s a very fine balance between the two.  As with anything, I believe that if you really sit down and take a look at your relationship you’ll be able to tell the difference, but that’s another story all together.

The reason perfectionism can be so deadly in relationships is that a lot of people go into a relationship expecting their partner to be absolutely perfect for them.  They expect their partner to be devoid of flaws, to read their minds and to never make a mistake.  If their partner does make a mistake, they expect that mistake to be remedied immediately and if it doesn’t happen (And it won’t.  Big changes don’t happen overnight.) then they leave.

No one is perfect.  Even if you’re with someone you are simply insanely compatible with, they will always have flaws.  And so do you!  You’re going to step on each other’s toes from time to time and that’s inevitable.  What matters is the way that you handle it.  Having patience and accepting that not everyone is perfect will help you be patient and accepting instead of throwing the baby out with the bath water.

Don’t confuse this with settling in a relationship.  That’s not what I’m talking about.  If there is something seriously wrong in the relationship, something morally important to you or something that is incredibly offensive to you, then you are definitely in the right to end the relationship.  But there’s a difference between leaving because you have very large differences with your moral compass or you are trying to achieve wildly different things with your lives and leaving because your partner spilled water from the kitchen sink one too many times.

That sounds like a ridiculous example, but I had a co-worker who was raging at work for exactly that reason.  His girlfriend washed her hair in the kitchen sink and dripped water all over the ground and they got into an enormous fight over it.  Is your partner getting water all over the floor and not cleaning up after themselves annoying?  Yes.  But it happens.  Everyone has little bad habits they get into and until they live with someone else they may not realize that they are indeed bad habits.

My point is that you don’t need to explode at the person, or get into a huge fight over some water on the floor.  Just ask them nicely to clean it up next time.  Problem solved.  If it keeps happening over and over and over again when you’ve asked many times then yeah, that’s a bigger problem.  But you deal with that as it comes.  People make mistakes, and you have to give them a chance to fix those mistakes before you get extremely upset about it.

There’s also the bigger picture.  What if said girlfriend continued to get water all over the floor and never cleaned it up, but the rest of their relationship was amazing?  Is it worth it to end the relationship over such a small problem?  Probably not.  And chances are that if it’s really important to you, she’s trying to improve so that she’s not doing something that bothers you.

The opposite applies too.  Relationships are about working together, not expecting someone to be perfect for you and not budging on your own habits.  That’s another post entirely, so I’ll leave it there.

My point is that expecting someone to be perfect and getting upset when they’re not is not only unrealistic, it is extremely damaging to both people in the relationship.  No one is perfect, and until that is realized by both people in a relationship, it’s not going to get very far before someone has a conniption.  Don’t settle for something less than what you want in those major areas of a relationship, but don’t be unrealistic in your expectations either.

If you’re looking for something long term, expecting perfection is the easiest way to kill any chances of realizing such a relationship.

Perfectionism of the self

Are you seeing the theme yet?  Nothing is perfect.  No one is perfect.  Furthermore, perfect is a term that is relative to she or he who perceives it. The true dictionary definition of ‘perfect’ does not exist in reality.

As such, expecting yourself to be perfect will have you jumping head first into all the traps I have just written about trying to avoid.

Many, many people beat themselves up when they make mistakes.  They call themselves stupid, they punish themselves by making themselves work harder, or by avoiding doing anything enjoyable for a period of time so as to justify their guilt of making a mistake.  They expect perfectionism, and when they don’t get it they get upset and they punish themselves for something they never had a hope of achieving in the first place.

The affect of this is that you end up living a miserable life every time you make a mistake because you’re always beating yourself up verbally and mentally.  That’s a lot of beating yourself up.  Being a human being, you are going to make mistakes.  A lot of mistakes.

Everyone makes mistakes.  Everyone.  Even the President of the United States, even the Pope, even your father and your mother, even your idol, even me.  We all, as human beings, make mistakes, no matter how we portray ourselves.  You will too.  Accepting the fact that you won’t ever be perfect is a huge step towards satisfaction in your life and in many aspects of your life where you once expected perfection.  Expect things to be good and great, not perfect.  There’s a big difference.

Accpetance and moving on

Perfectionism is rampant in many other areas of life that I haven’t mentioned, but the caveats of perfectionism are pretty much the same no matter what you’re applying it to.  Nothing is perfect.  Aim to be the best, aim to achieve the best, hell aim to be perfect.  But don’t expect it.  You will always be disappointed if you’re expecting perfectionism and the only person who will suffer for such an expectation is you.

When you accept that nothing is perfect, you let go of a lot of pressure that you’ve been putting yourself under.  Usually this release of the monumental and unrealistic expectations you’ve had for yourself will result in you doing and feeling better than you ever have.  The irony is that by letting go of perfection, you get closer to it than you ever could have otherwise.

It’s difficult to let go of, but be persistent.  The results of letting go of perfectionism will radiate out to every aspect of your life.  It’s more than worth the time it takes to get rid of it.

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