Have you ever felt inadequate and inferior? Do you ever think that you are simply not good enough, and far from fulfilling your potential? No matter who you are, you will probably say ‘yes’ to these questions. If you come from certain ethnic backgrounds, you will definitely understand what I’m talking about.
Why do we feel this way? Like it or not, the most common reason in our heads is to do with what people will think of us, and that they will judge us based on whether or not we are successful at something. For some of us, we even want to go above and beyond to really stroke our own egos, and here commences the quest for perfection.
Well-known professor Brene Brown says that the main reason why we get sucked into perfection is because we believe that it will protect us. Deep, but confusing, isn’t it? But think about it deeper and all of it makes sense. If we are perceived to live, look and act perfectly, we can minimise the pain of blame, judgment, and shame.
The desire to feel worthy of belonging and love is something that is very real, and perfectionism will quench all the doubts that you are not good enough. In other words, it is a shield that protects us from negative consequences, as opposed to striving to be your best, which is about personal growth and achievement in one’s area of choice.
So what is the danger with perfectionism? To put it simply, it will result in a never-ending battle to reach an unattainable goal. In fact, it goes the other way and turns into a long-term habit. It is also dangerous because it means putting the power in the hands of others – not even that, it’s more like putting the power in assumption or perception of how others will judge us. Isn’t that scary?
So what do you do if you feel that you are trapped in such a situation? It is easy for me to say that you should just accept yourself for who you are, but I would be delusional if I think that it’s simply as easy as that. After all, everybody needs to feel a sense of belonging, worthiness and love. That is simply human nature.
Maybe you can write yourself a list of what your values are, and a list of what would make you feel “worthy”. After that you should put things in perspective and question whether the items on the second list are really that important and in line with your values. Chances are that not all of them will be.
Maybe you can focus your perspective of what competition is, and whether or not you want to be involved in it. To a certain extent, competition is good because it can motivate you to be at your best. However, the main challenge is to learn that your results in a competition should not be what define your value and your worth! After all, it is only a measure of your prowess in one particular area of life.
Ultimately, you should tell yourself that you will always do the best you can, but will not strive to be perfect. It is a very long journey between the points of “what will others think?” and “I am enough”, but the courage to go on this journey is important if you ever want to find contentment in your life. There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution, but what I know is that you must acknowledge it and work towards it. All the best!
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