Sometimes I screw up. It happens when I am not able to see what I’ve got in front of me, when the idea of what should be is so fixed, that it stops me from being open to appreciating what there is. And of course there is this thing with perfection. I am a perfectionist, although very far from being perfect. However, I walk around looking for perfection and criticise things that are not as good as I reckon they should be. This is so destructive! It makes me constantly unsatisfied with myself and others, demanding more and not appreciating all the good things around me, especially in people.
My boyfriend pointed this out to me the other day. I was annoyed at something he does and was focusing all my attention on that. In doing so I was totally unable to see all the very positive qualities he has that made me fall in love with him in the first place. We were arguing for a while; of course I was trying to make my point and the truth is that I managed to do it pretty well – he apologised – but I was still annoyed. I was not letting go of my idea of perfection. I wanted things to be faultless, until he said to me something like “What do you think, that there aren’t things I don’t like about you? Do you think you are perfect?” I went completely quiet. I know this is obvious, but it wasn’t till then that I realized I was only looking at the stuff I didn’t like and was completely ignoring the stuff that I loved about him. AND I was acting as if I was perfect…
This habit I have of dissecting situations to find the bits that could be made better has brought a lot of dissatisfaction to me. Lots of disappointments and tears. It shows such lack of acceptance and maturity! (This is the “perfect me” judging myself.) The other day I realized that if I changed my focus, I’d be a lot happier. I have done a lot of work on myself over the years, however, I find myself making the same mistakes over and over again. It’s so tiring! I know that this feeling of tiredness comes from my perfectionism. How on earth am I still there?? Haven’t I worked on that already? Shouldn’t I be completely over that?
Seeing myself back at square one can be really disappointing, right? Well, the truth is that I am not back at the same square. It looks very similar to the one I was in before, but it’s not exactly the same. I like to use the image of an onion when I talk about inner work. There are as many layers to an onion as there are inside of us. All of the layers look very similar, but the more you remove, the closer you are to the core. The same goes for us. When we work on ourselves, many times we think that we have already tackled an issue and then some time later another thing comes up that makes us realize there is still work to do. But the awareness we have the second time round is not the same as the first, nor the third time, the fourth or the fifth. They will give us a deeper understanding of ourselves, they will sharpen our awareness and help us get to know ourselves better.
So what did my argument with my boyfriend help me remember again the other day? The first and foremost is that I am not little Miss Perfect. That perfect doesn’t exist especially because each and every one of us has a different idea of what perfect means, so it’s pretty difficult to actually find it.
The second thing I was reminded of is that focusing on what I don’t like takes away from all the things that I do like. The truth is that focusing on something takes a lot of energy, so why not do it on what we DO like? It’s the easiest way to make what we appreciate grow instead of losing sight of it.
The third thing that I was reminded of is of the importance of putting things into perspective. When we lose perspective, we are not able to see things clearly and we tend to exaggerate.
Last but not least, I was reminded not to measure people under my own rules, because not accepting other people’s way of doing things and thinking that my way is the best way is just another narrow-minded way to look at the world.
The moment the conversation with my boyfriend was over I realized I had had my eyes opened and that I needed to write about it. I wanted to share with you how I screw up, I feel bad about myself, I realize what I am doing and my awareness is raised. It is all part of the ongoing process of inner growth. So next time you find yourself slipping back into old habits, don’t scold yourself, remember you are constantly removing layers and you are one layer closer to your core.