I believe there is a consensus that positivity is a plus in anyone’s life. From time to time, we all can use a boost of positivity and confidence in ourselves and in our abilities. Negativity has a way of leaking into our consciousness; deflating and devaluing any positive progress we have made. For this reason, it is imperative to change the way we look at ourselves and the way we look at the world.
One thing that usually needs to be changed is the “Myth of Perfection”. A lot of people spend too much time, energy, and money chasing perfection. They want to get as close to perfect as possible. The problem is that perfection is an ideal and, therefore, unattainable. This means that a lot of people are chasing something that is an illusion - a myth.
The problem with chasing a myth is twofold. First, humans are, well, human. They are prone to make mistakes. In fact, it is inevitable that if humans are involved, mistakes will be made.
Envision with me a moment: you’re chasing perfection and make a mistake. How do you handle that? Do you use it as an opportunity to learn or as an opportunity to beat yourself up about it? If you beat yourself up about it, that means you're using it as evidence that you are weak/worthless and not trying hard enough. This leads us to the second problem.
You feel that you’re weak. You feel that you’re worthless. Eventually, you feel that nothing you do will succeed. You lose confidence in yourself and in your abilities. Something that doesn’t exist actually has the ability to make you fail at life.
The way around these problems is simple. You need to begin embracing your imperfections and see them for what they really are – mere evidence that you’re human and will make mistakes. Learn from them and move on to better things.
Let's explore some easy techniques that you can use to avoid the negativity of perfectionism and begin embracing your imperfections in a positive way.
Set a Small Goal and Achieve It
We all know someone that has a habit of biting off more than they can chew when it comes to getting things done. They are good at developing ambitious plans but don’t have the best follow-through when it comes to doing the work. This sets them up for a lot of negativity when their plans don’t come to fruition on a regular basis. If this is something that happens to you, resist the urge to beat yourself up about it. Instead, try changing that imperfection into a strength. You do this by simply setting smaller goals for yourself. When you set smaller goals, you greatly increase the likelihood that you will achieve those goals.
Regularly achieving your goals builds positive energy. Plus you can still take on bigger projects. All you have to do is break the bigger jobs down into manageable chunks. Then, treat each of those chunks as individual goals. You’ll knock off each one and get to the finish line in no time!
Break a Habit
Many negative outcomes are caused by bad habits. Bad habits can be so ingrained that they seem like normal behavior to the people who practice them. In other words, if you repeat an abnormal behavior enough times it will begin to seem normal. If the repetition goes on, the behavior itself will settle into the background of everyday activity. The person involved in the behavior will be completely unaware of its existence. These ingrained and negative background behaviors can be dangerous precisely because they are unnoticed. They are invisible imperfections.
How do you check for negative, ingrained bad habits? Ask a close friend or loved one. Subjectively you might not be able to see the habit, but from an objective viewpoint, it’s quite noticeable. Listen to what they have to say. Keep an open mind. Then, take what they have to say to heart and begin to work on changing that habit. Embrace that imperfection for what it is and work on changing the behavior.
Try smiling more. You’ll feel better because of it. If that sounds like a platitude, that may be a sign that you too much negative energy in your life. A balanced person can always see room for improvement. A person who is imbalanced, like someone who is chasing the myth of perfection, doesn’t see any reason to change.
Several studies have shown that actions do indeed influence thoughts and emotions. Smiling, even if you’re not particularly happy, changes how you feel about a project or about the world in general. When you activate the muscles necessary to smile, your brain interprets that activation as a sign that all is well. It releases chemicals that mimic that supposed external stimuli. In short, acting happy will help you feel happy. Try it for yourself. It really works!
Be Solution Oriented
There are two ways of approaching life.
One is to see it as a series of problems to be solved or overcome. People with this viewpoint tend to see the world in a somewhat negative light. Everything and every one represents potential trouble. Therefore, they always feel the need to be on guard. They feel the need to always be prepared for the worst. They can feel overwhelmed and inadequate to what they see as a constant attack by forces beyond their control. People in search of perfection can develop this mindset. There is so much critical work to be done that one mistake can be fatal.
They understand that making a mistake is not fatal. Instead, it is the only way to discover a solution to the challenge that has presented itself. They welcome the mistake. They embrace it and the lesson that it teaches. They are not problem-oriented. They are solution-oriented.
The Lesson - A Golden Nugget
We have seen that people who chase the myth of perfection are deathly afraid of mistakes. They see mistakes as weaknesses. They hate to make them. When they do occur, they hide those mistakes from view and often lose the lesson inherent in the mistake itself. Very often, this means that they are doomed to repeat that mistake.
When you embrace your mistakes, you will learn its lesson. This is a gift - a golden nugget. When you internalize the lesson, not only do you free yourself from that error, you also now have the ability to teach others how to avoid it as well. A mentor is great not only because of the knowledge that they are willing to share but also because of the way that they obtained that knowledge. They have internalized the lessons involved in the mistakes that they have made. Remember this when you learn your own lessons in life. Remember that in sharing what you’ve learned, you have demonstrated the power of embracing your imperfections in the most profound way possible.
Finally, be grateful for your imperfections. Be grateful that you’ve made mistakes.
Perfection implies immobility. Nothing happens in a perfect environment because there is no change. There is no contrast. There are no imperfections to motivate positive changes in behavior. There are no mistakes, therefore no lessons to be learned. When you look at it this way, not only is perfection unattainable, it is also unbelievably boring.
The interesting stuff happens when things get messy, when things break and when the unexpected occurs. That’s why embracing your imperfections, being grateful for them, is so important. Your imperfections are a map that leads you to positive change –a change that makes a difference in your life and in the lives of everyone around you.
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