Perfectionism Poisons Love

Perfectionism.  People have been talking about it lately.  Perfectly.

I love walking, hiking, kayaking, or sitting outside with my rat-catcher cat.  My perfectionism is not turned on.  I am free from the need to fix anything, even myself.  Other times?  Watch out, soul.

Hi my Guides.  It’s been a few days.  I’ve been socializing: walking and eating good food with good friends.  Has my ego been acting up or causing any problems that I’m not aware of?  Am I attracting perfectionism?  I thought I’d grown safe from it and suddenly its everywhere.  Including in myself.

It is good to have your attention.  Thank you for being here now.  We are content with your use of ego. It causes you to be faithful about observing yourself.  We appreciate your discipline.

I call it my ‘dip-stick’.  I’m checking my soul’s love level…to see if I’m down on love.  The louder the ego, the lower my love level.

This is a highly useful practice.

Except that I still want to beat myself up when I catch myself wanting the spotlight or to be given credit for something.  It is embarrassing, actually.

You are human and cannot possibly be perfect.

Intellectually, I know that, but I am not cured of wanting to be perfect.  It’s irrational.

It is impossible.  We ask for a review of your knowledge of this subtle and profound barrier from love that humans refer to as perfectionism.  Often when humans are under the influence of their own perfectionism, they decide they need to be more perfect.  In fact, those warning signs cry out for acceptance.

Can you give an example?

One example would be the time your partner told you that you were impossible to please.  When he was building a table, he had to make a number of adjustments.   You were not satisfied.

I remember.  I was so worried about having it the right height for my elderly parents.

Perfectionists cite ‘perfect’ reasons for wanting accuracy.  Does the height of a table justify disapproval of a loved one?

I didn’t disapprove of HIM.

The person on the receiving end of perfectionism feels imperfect.  For this blog, show how you learned about perfectionism.

Years ago, I was doing serious work to uncover my character defects.  Someone told me about the Enneagram. When I studied it, my perfectionism slowly became clear and obvious.  It was painful to face the damaging demands I placed on myself and on the people I really wanted to love.   I was pushing away the very people I wanted to love me.

Later, I borrowed, from an Educator, a little book that had been written for high school students who suffered from test anxiety.  It was full of suggestions for accepting a mark that was with less than 100%.  The center-fold was the best part of the book.  Opened up, both center pages were a blast of passionate pink.   Written crosswise over the two pages in bright yellow script:  “What do you call the person who got the lowest mark in Med School?  Answer:  Doctor!”

I’ve shared that with countless others.  Some say, “Yeah, but who wants the Dr. who got the lowest marks in Med School?”  I immediately jump to the Doctor’s defense.  There are countless reasons why he or she may have gotten the lowest mark.  I’ve even said that I’d take the Doctor who had a better bedside manner over the one who can hold all the information in her head.

Interesting how I would jump to the defense of this Doctor, yet I beat myself up when facing the spread between my mark and 100%.

Perfectionism and love are not compatible.  Perfectionists hold perpetual anger since there is so little perfection to be found in your world.  When it is found, it is fleeting.  Even those obtaining 100% as a score will find they can make mistakes in that subject or field.

That was mentioned in this little book.  It then taught how we can strive for excellence instead of perfect scores.  To me, that was like telling a cigarette smoker to be happy sucking on a straw.  But I could see how the traits of perfectionism were cutting me off from the kind of relationships I wanted with people.  And especially shameful, I loathed having to admit I was wrong.  Or that I had made a mistake.

These insights create a heightened ability to love oneself, a vital step towards being able to love others.

Yes and I did have to learn to love myself, a bit at a time.  It helped to understand that perfectionism rises out of what I THINK others expect of me. That expectation is seldom valid.  Somehow I would decide that society, a person, a loved one had this really high standard that I had to meet and maintain.  I would be frustrated and feel angry because I knew if I ever attained that standard, I would be a slave trying to keep it up.  Of course, the other person or people had no idea that all this was going on.

Then I realized that striving for excellence meant shooting for a goal that was MY standard.  It was my yardstick.  It meant accepting that I was not perfect.  I was acceptable, but I still wanted my results to be excellent.  I began looking at my results and if they didn’t meet my standards, I saw it as rich ground for learning and growth.

Perfectionism blocks the ability to experience the freedom that is available to humans.  What is the perfect way to give?  What is the perfect way to love?  What is a perfect soul?  Answering those questions blocks freedom.  While the Divine grants each soul its own will, human beings have difficulty granting this freedom to others. Acceptance is the antidote for perfectionism.

Acceptance is incredible.  It demands an understanding of oneself.  That leads to accepting others.  I  strive for my best standard and don’t stay in disappointment if I miss the bulls eye.   I think less and less about what others expect from me.  If I need to know, I ask.

Our Wild Foxglove - 4 ft tall

Nature has been a great teacher of acceptance.  There is no ONE perfect flower.  They are all different.  There is no ONE perfect animal.  They are all different.  They are ALL PERFECT.

Buck, my buddy July 2010

I hike a trail and find baby owls sitting in two distant cedars exercising their tinny, adolescent ‘hoots’ at each other.  I begin melting from the inside of my soul.  I talk baby-talk unabashedly to a young raccoon peering down on us as we marvel at the beauty of its elderly and hollowed tree.  I arrive home to a beautiful buck deer in my back yard and I hope he’ll stay forever.

In those situations, acceptance does not even NEED to be considered.  There is zero desire to weigh, criticise, judge, adjust, or want different, a single aspect of nature’s offerings.  All is as is meant to be.

You are coming to our theme.  The lights are beginning to blaze.

Okay…you snared me!   Why on earth can I not be that accepting of human beings?

Yes.  Why on earth?

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