Recently I gave a speech at an event. It went mostly well, and everyone said it was great, lots of good feedback, but I wasn’t happy. Why? For some silly reason, I couldn’t let myself take the win because at some point in my lecture I got sidetracked and went off on a part of the topic that apparently only I was interested in and got a lot of lost stares back from my audience. It didn’t last long, and I got back on topic and gained them back, but it bothered me. Rather than celebrating, I spend a chunk of the rest of the evening berating myself for something very minor that only I would remember.
We do these kinds of things all the time to ourselves and nine times out of ten it’s because that behavior was molded to us by family of origin. I watched my parents pick at every flaw that I had in my life: the shoes I didn’t polish, the room not perfectly clean, the B that should have been an A, and, oh, did I mention I was also very overweight in high school? That was fun.
I share this not to blame my parents, I know their parents did it to them, but rather to say that just like in my own mind, the anger you feel at yourself for the things you feel are imperfect is a lie. It’s all perfect just the way it is, your messy house, the speech you gave, the spelling mistakes on your blog. It’s all perfect. Could it be better? Yes, of course, and you can work on making it so, but it’s time for all of us to acknowledge it’s good the way it is.
We must unravel the cord of learned behavior not by getting mad about it or blaming parents, though I will admit acknowledging where it came from is very helpful, but rather by seeing it for what it really is, a huge steaming pile of lies.
The whole idea of striving for perfection in the first place is misguided at best. Perfection is impossible and as I said it’s already perfect, it just could be better.
Next time, no matter how things go, tell yourself you love yourself, that it’s perfect no matter what, and maybe lovingly suggest ways it can go better, like perhaps writing a blog about how emotional eating and emotional spending are connected rather than doing a five-minute off-script monologue at a lecture about creating money.
Love yourself enough to do the work of change.
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