A perfectionist thinks that anything less then perfect is unacceptable. Most of us are just plain hard on ourselves for not achieving what we think we should. The problem is perfection is not obtainable or sustainable, thus you are never satisfied. Our self criticism can come from a number of places. From a difficult, strict upbringing, or we can be driven to perfection in order to make people respect or love us more. No matter what the motivation, the resulting painful element is not feeling like we are good enough. We miss the gentleness and our inherent value as human beings.

Healing the inner perfectionist

  • Understanding perfect is boring and uninteresting
  • It is the scrapper and underdog that is most admired
  • Make it a practice of being the best person you can be, without expectation of an outcome. (See and admit shortcomings, and get back up when you fall off your practice)

Video Translation

Hello, this Sevin Philips and I’m here to talk about perfection, and more clearly, how hard we are on ourselves and how that really makes it very difficult to feel good about ourselves and some solutions about how to get out it.

Being perfect – some people, in more the extreme, it’s like nothing is acceptable unless it’s perfect, whatever that means. For most of us, it’s just that we’re really hard and critical. We should’ve done better; we could’ve done better – and that’s the thing we focus on. We don’t focus on the fact that the effort we did or how far we actually got. This makes it very difficult.

For some of us, we had very critical parents or parents that were hard on us or pushed us hard, so we internalized a lot of this stuff and now treat ourselves the same way. Sometimes we do this because we want to be loved. We want to strive for some sort of perfection because people will respect us.

Sometimes we do it out of a sense of control. We feel like if we control our lives and have it be more perfect, we actually feel a sense of having more control in our lives.

No matter what it is, it just makes it very difficult to feel good about ourselves because we’re never enough. That’s the heart of the problem. We don’t actually see our inherent value.

One way to get over this is that we really need to understand and embrace our shortcomings. What are those things that we do that get in the way? How do we behave poorly? Then making intentions and practices based on these things – kind of like riding a bicycle. You fall down and you get back up. It’s the getting back up that we really need to focus on, although most of us focus on the fact that how bad we did or the fact that we failed or didn’t achieve it as we thought we would have.

A great movie icon for this is a Rocky film – the old boxing film. It’s this guy, a no-name underdog that basically lost most of his fights, but that’s not what people loved about him. People loved the heart of the scrapper. He kept getting back up. He kept fighting. It’s this underdog mentality that we love in other people, but yet we sometimes have a hard time loving it in ourselves.

That’s my message today. I want you to be a practicing human being. I want you to embrace your shortcomings and practice to be a better person, but let go of the results. Let go of the expectation of achieving whatever you think it is. It’s not important. It’s actually perfection if you think about it. It’s quite boring an uninteresting.

Someone who’s achieved something, it’s like, “Okay…” But those of us that are striving to be better people, which is the nature of a human being, because none of us are perfect, is what’s really interesting about us. It’s the thing that we respect in other people is this effort. So focus on that instead of the fact that you didn’t do what you thought you should have done.

I’d love to hear any comments that you have. I want you to have a really great year. Take care.

By Sevin Philips, MFT