Perfection Deception

In the context of the history of humanity, the word ‘perfect’ is almost brand new. For the vast majority of our existence here on the big blue ball, there was no such term. It arose relatively recently (in the 13th century) and its original meaning was to finish or complete. Sadly, in 2013 it’s come to represent something completely different.    

As much as any other message, in 2013 we are constantly being prompted to chase perfection. Apparently, it’s what we all need. And apparently, we’re not there yet. On many levels, we’re being told that our current state is not our ideal, optimal or perfect state. Something is missing. We’re encouraged not to ‘settle’. Whatever that means. According to the Purveyors of Perfect, to be happy where we are, with what we have, is to deny our potential. To compromise. To miss out.

Tell a Buddhist that.

And not only are us grown-ups being bombarded with these messages but so too are our future grown-ups. Our kids are also being force fed the “you’re not good enough as you are” mantra. Anything short of perfection is failure. Over time and with just enough obsessive and irrational behaviour they, like us, may very well achieve the perfect life. The perfect body. Face. Career. Family. Outfit. And then one day we’ll all live happily ever after in our perfect houses in our perfect locations with our perfect partners. And our perfect children. Of course.

Because that’s exactly how life works.

Such strange and unhealthy messages to send a bunch of imperfect creatures living in an imperfect world. But then it all makes sense when we consider where the messages come from. On many levels, our perfection paradigm is an unhealthy reflection of our obsession with the fairytales sold to us via marketing, movies and media. It may not always be blatantly articulated but more often than not, the underlying and subconscious message is “we sell what you’re lacking”.

Lucky us.

Perfection, as it’s revered and pursued in our culture, is an unhealthy lie. A myth. A human construct. A marketing concept. In many cases, it’s a story told by people who want to manipulate your mindset and behaviour to buy what they’re selling. And while it means different things to different people, the pursuit of it rarely leads to anything more positive than anxiety, insecurity, self-doubt and misery. 

There’s something to be said for gratitude, awareness and contentment in the present moment.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Trolleywife February 25, 2013 at 7:58 pm

excellent, oh yeah let go of perfectionism. Seeking perfection- what an illusive goal. I like some flaws. If our aim is perfection, we can accidentally block our ability.

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Gaelene February 25, 2013 at 10:22 pm

Yep… and we realize we can’t achieve perfection, so it gives us an excuse to stop trying. Perfect! failure from the beginning.

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Cecilia February 27, 2013 at 8:35 am

to true …

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Love in India February 26, 2013 at 1:22 am

I remember a sentence you often used to reiterate – “Remember, our goal is improvement, not perfection.” Or something like that. On the enlightening and liberating journey of personal growth this is a crucial distinction we’ll all do well to remember. Too much analysis (of what you have) can lead to paralysis. As we know. ;)

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Sandy Fishwick February 26, 2013 at 8:21 am

This quote sums it up for me
“There are thousands and thousands of people out there living lives of quiet, screaming desperation who work long, hard hours at jobs they hate, to enable them to buy things they don’t need to impress people they don’t like.” by Nigel Marsh.

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Josephine February 26, 2013 at 1:05 pm

I had a writing pad once that at the top of every page was printed: “Perfection is our goal; Excellence will be tolerated” – I thought it was funny – Oops! My bad. :-) Meanwhile… I strive for Excellence, work on continuous improvement and being accepting and laid back if they’re not instant (I’m also working on ‘patience’).

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Fi February 26, 2013 at 4:18 pm

‘There’s something to be said for gratitude, awareness and contentment in the present moment’…

Great post Craig x

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Brian Madigan March 5, 2013 at 7:01 am

Wonderful Craig, so apt. We are and never will be anything but perfectly what we are. Learning and growth are the point of life, not living up to an impossible idea, even an impossible spiritual one.

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Rae March 12, 2013 at 5:18 pm

This just hit me as a bit of a paradox of what u normally preach Craig. …always strive to be the best u can be – to me, this, ur msg, seems to say to me, I can be better, do better, and affects me the same way as the perfection msg. It still means the same in that I’m always supposed to BE STRIVING for something better than I am… same same ??? still striving.
I know this may sound messy and complicated and u may not have a clue wat I’m on about. But that’s ok… I sometimes just wish I didn’t have to strive for anything – or do I ????

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