Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Illusion of Perfection

"We are built to make mistakes, coded for error."
- Scientist Lewis Thomas talking about our biology

Perfection is an illusion. Don’t bother wasting your precious energy and your one precious life beating yourself up because you don’t think you’re good enough. We are all flawed. It’s genetic!

I read a lot of books that talk about this, and I agree that it’s far healthier for us to give up pursing perfection. Author Debbie Ford writes, "Our society nurtures the illusion that all the rewards go to the people who are perfect. But many of us are finding out that trying to be perfect is costly."

Trying to maintain the illusion that we have it all together leads some to spend money they don’t have to impress people they don’t even know. It leads some to addictions. It leads some to starve themselves, exercise compulsively and do drastic and unhealthy things to their bodies.

Even though I know on an intellectual level that I will never be perfect, my ego demands perfection Sometimes I get upset that I’m not spiritually perfect. I’m not loving 100% of the time. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m human, and yet somehow I expect more of myself (can you say “crazy?!”).

I get angry with myself that I get angry. I criticize how I criticize others even if I don’t say the words out loud...I know sometimes I fail to convey love and choose instead to withhold it those who have offended me in some way. I beat myself up because sometimes I give in to the voices that tell me “you’re not good enough...you’ll never be” and I feel depressed.

I spend a lot of time feeding my mind with positive thoughts. I pray, I occasionally meditate, I read inspirational literature, listen to inspirational podcasts and say my affirmations and yet I still am imperfect. This bugs the heck out of me.

One of my lessons is to accept my imperfection, and I’m slow at learning this lesson. In fact, I have put off writing this post for months because I thought I wouldn’t do it “perfectly” (and how dare I write an imperfect post on the illusion of perfection! Ha!). Anyways, I take comfort in some words from one of my favourite authors, Marianne Williamson. She says that the more conscious and aware we become of how great we are, the more we can forgive ourselves for not being perfect.

In her book, A Return to Love, she writes, "The more we learn about the light within us, the easier it ultimately becomes to forgive ourselves for the fact that we're not perfect yet. If we were perfect, we wouldn't have been born. It's our mission to become perfect, however, and looking at where we're not is an important part of the process."

Here are some other quotes that give me some food for thought:

“Build this day on a foundation of pleasant thoughts. Never fret at any imperfections that you fear may impede your progress. Remind yourself, as often as necessary, that you are a creature of God and have the power to achieve any dream by lifting up your thoughts. You can fly when you decide that you can. Never consider yourself defeated again. Let the vision in your heart be in your life’s blueprint. Smile!” – Og Mandino

“My imperfections and failures are as much a blessing from God as my successes and my talents and I lay them both at his feet.” - Mahatma Gandhi

So the next time I make a mistake or become aware of the harsh voice of self-criticism, I will do as Gandhi described. I will try to see these imperfections as blessings, give them over to a power that is far beyond my comprehension and be grateful for the grace I am given. I will use it as a reminder to forgive others for their imperfections. And, I will not give myself grief when I read this post again and realize I’ve made several grammatical errors J

This is perfection!

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