the problem with perfection

I believe that most people have a dash of perfectionism in them (some more than others). I admit, I have a tendency to get sucked into perfectionism too.

The problem is as we move towards perfection we move away from authenticity. When we deny the reality of what’s going on in our lives in order to put on a perfect appearance for the outside world we create chaos and turmoil in our inside world.

To make matters worse, when we present ourselves to the world as being perfect then the people in our world think that they have to be perfect too. All of this pretending to be perfect creates a condition I call ‘silent suffering’.

Silent suffering is devastatingly painful.  I believe that it cultivates fear, anxiety, depression, and even suicidality. The antidote to silent suffering is authenticity.

I’ll start spreading the authenticity by embracing my glorious imperfections.

  • I have a spot on my chin where hair grows (I call it my mini beard)
  • I eat chocolate most days of the week
  • I have days where all I want to do is lay on the sofa and play video games
  • I can be excessive passionate about life
  • When I was twenty-one I wanted to have fifteen different cosmetic procedures (I was desperate to be anyone but myself)
  • I’ve struggled with depression, anxiety, panic attacks, obesity, and massive debt
  • I often wish I could help everyone I encounter
  • Sometimes I commit to too many things and get stressed out
  • Sometimes I put strangers before myself and my family
  • I often go weeks without shaving my legs
  • Sometimes I say what I think people want to hear
  • I’d rather eat gummy bears than drink wheatgrass
  • I’m about 15 lbs heavier than my ideal weight (gummy bears and chocolate perhaps?)
  • I was once a professional clown
  • I occasionally drop ‘f-bombs’
  • I doubt myself at least once a week
  • I’m doing the best I can everyday and I’m not perfect

Here’s what I have decided, I’m too busy being passionate, fleshy, silly, and unique to be perfect. And that is finally okay with me.

What about you?  Leave me a comment below to let me know what you think.

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  • David W Einert

    Gemma,
    Hardly juicy details but nice try 🙂 Your human and we are perfect just as we are. I don't know anyone who has not gone through much of what you have early on and come to terms or not. I like the "I can be excessive passionate about life" that you wrote; really how can a person be excessive passionate? Most have a lack of passion or vision for that matter and if your in the moment and operating wonderful. The part you wrote " When I was twenty-one I wanted to have fifteen different cosmetic procedures (I was desperate to be anyone but myself)", has me baffled looking at your old and new picture perfect for model work… Yes when we are 15, 20, 30 and on it is a mind diversion to want to be somebody else. A good question for the mind is "do you ever try to divert my attention" Our self often get distracted by outside distractions, visuals, noises, smells, work and play but our mind most often is the nexus of the distractions; if I only were or day dream or what if. It seems that the mind would rather be anywhere but in the here and now; past or future will do nicely. The part you wrote "Sometimes I put strangers before myself and my family" is interesting but its not wrong or right. When we love ourselves and others without conditions that will happen. When you love with conditions that is it. Much of our societies and culture say we must love with conditions and that we must judge ourselves and others. WHY? I realize that those who write and enforce the laws say there would be anarchy yet the ancient Greek were not like the Romans who most cultures have patterned themselves after. The Romans loved their art and did not like their peace loving ways or their philosophy but were a bit afraid of them because they were not much into laws and believed everybody was special class and caste did not seem to matter.

    I am making special point on your point "I’m doing the best I can everyday and I’m not perfect" If your doing your best and I mean your BEST then you are. You and everyone are perfect just as you are. Perfect. We still have choice and can make improvements or changes yet are still perfect even if you stay on the sofa and play video games for a while. Most are curious and mix life up and have fun and are serious.

    Just some thoughts your way 🙂
    Dave

  • David W Einert

    Gemma,
    Hardly juicy details but nice try 🙂 That comment bugged me overnight because perhaps these are your juicy details and no deep dark racy details other than these exist. I did not mean to make light of these issues as any issue that is important to a person is important and we place the priority, ranking of importance and impact it has on our life. We choose to take it seriously or not. The Fifth Agreement by Don Miguel Ruiz and his son with Mary Carroll Nelson brings clarity in living that can with adoption of these agreements can change and remove drama and self doubt. Of course its not the only book and what you do is what many can not get from a book. People we have an intense desire for someone to hear us and understand who we are. The mind is a powerful mechanism that from birth (and some say way before) ticking away planning and thinking away. For some it is the self the Psyche-who we are while others believe that we are all one or the children of the one while I believe that we are a paradox, conundrum being both the one here and our roots so to speak or core is of here and not here. Most of all we to live a quality of life must function and leave dysfunctional things behind. Determining what is functional and dysfunctional is an interesting exercise in that the terms of both are in dispute YET healthy living, loving ones self without conditions leads in my estimation to quality of life. I do understand though in most of the world that love with conditions is considered very functional and correct. Then you have religious and non religious. We could go on and on but day to day living and treating yourself and others with kindness and caring for me is must and I believe is functional. From your comment "I'm about 15 lbs heavier than my ideal weight (gummy bears and chocolate perhaps?)" happiness and beauty are from the inside and YES you are an incredibly attractive girl the smile is from within and with any heartfelt smile all are beautiful. What most women don't realize for us guys and women its how we feel about ourselves not how much you weigh as we see your beauty. Yes there are some controlling mean spirited men and women but most are not. I am guessing your hubbie does not see those fifteen pounds as a problem but how wonderful and special you are. That is most of us guys and gals out here. If anyone should be in the hot seat with girls and women it should be the fashion industry. They take anorexic models and put clothes on them to make them look good. Put them in flat heels and regular cloths and NO ONE would give them a second look except in concern for their health.

  • Charlene

    Hi Gemma,

    I was happy to read this. It's nice to have that affirmation from someone other than yourself that you, your self doubt about image, about thoughts, about life itself is normal. You are a wonderful person. Thank you so much for having the courage to share this with us.

    Charlene

  • Dave,

    First of all…big grateful hugs to you. I appreciate that you took the time to share your thoughts with me. Here's my thoughts on your questions/comments.

    1. Excessively passionate: I love having passion! The excessive part causes my 'imperfections' because it causes me to become distracted (because there's so much I'm passionate about) and it occasionally causes my priorities to get a little confused.

    2. Your comment, " It seems that the mind would rather be anywhere but in the here and now; past or future will do nicely" is so very wise and perceptive, thank you.

    3. I too struggle with the comment I wrote about "putting strangers before myself and my family" sometimes I feel it's right to do it, sometimes I feel it's not, and sometimes it just 'is'. Your comments about this one were very interesting.

    4. It's funny you re-commented on the "juicy details" issue because it was something I was re-thinking too. I questioned, "are those really my juicy details?". I'm not sure. There are more juicy details about my life in the "About Me" section of this page that perhaps are a little darker. I think those were the details I hoped might entertain people and get them thinking a little while keeping it a little lighter.

    5. I adore this, "healthy living, loving ones self without conditions leads in my estimation to quality of life" it rings true for me in my life and my work.

    I have so much more to write, but a client is coming in.

    Thanks Dave for sharing your love and wisdom with me.

    With love,
    gem

  • Hi Charlene,

    Thank you so much for leaving me such a kind note.

    I always wonder whenever I put something out into "cyber-space" what people think about it and if it's helpful in any way.

    I am incredibly grateful to know about how it impacted you. Thank you for taking the time to let me know.

    Much love and gratitude,
    gem

  • Hi, Gemma,

    This is so refreshing! You are definitely one of "those" people – shiny, beautiful, kind, loving, wise – looking pretty darn "perfect" from the outside. I always find this conversation interesting…as a parenting coach, I often find myself feeling a bit watched in public. And then somedays I'm at home, thinking "Thank goodness there is no video camera in my home, getting this particular bit of parenting on camera:)" I think people breathe a sigh of relief when they see me as simply a real parent! Practicing! Just like everyone else. And revelling in imperfection, feeling abundantly humble and human.

    I always talk to parents about offering themselves the degree of understanding they offer their children, and how they set the example for their children's self-love with their gentleness with themselves.

    Thanks for the giggle and thought-provoking blog!

    In joy,

    Lisa Kathleen

  • Gem,

    As a recovering Perfectionist… I now move with the belief that "I perfectly manage my imperfections" ~Lisa Nichols~ I love your reflection on "when we present ourselves to the world as being perfect then the people in our world think that they have to be perfect too." this is so true and I have witnessed it time and time again.

    Thank you for contributing to my reflection time this evening – as always you provide me profound insights and wisdom!

    Hugs
    Lee

  • Hi Lisa,

    It was so lovely to see your comment, thank you so much!

    I love your philosophy on supporting parents to offer themselves the degree of understanding they offer their children, and how parents set the example for their children's self-love with their gentleness with themselves. That is so incredibly wise.

    Thank you again for stopping by, I feel honored.

    Lots of love,
    gem

    P.S. I'm ecstatic that you got a giggle from it!

  • Lee,

    It's my pleasure…I get so much from you and your writing, I'm very grateful to return the favor.

    Sending you lots of love and hugs.
    gem