“Perfectionism is mostly a result of learning, programming, and conditioning. I see it as an ingenious adaptation to a hypercritical, high-pressure, invalidating environment, a psychological self-defense strategy that unfortunately creates more problems than it solves” ~ Pavel Somov
For the next several blog posts I am going to talk about perfection and the ideas from the book Present Perfect: A Mindfulness Approach to Letting Go of Perfectionism and the Need for Control by Pavel Somov. If you ever deal with issues of being a perfectionist then this is a great book to help you see each moment as perfect and not be so hard on yourself. The purpose of the book is to help you experience perfection without being perfectionistic.
The book describes three types of perfectionistic hunger: approval/validation hunger, reflection/attention hunger, and control/certainty hunger. In approval/validation hunger you seek approval from others for your self worth. I was good at that, I worked hard and wanted a pat on the back from authority figures to tell me I was doing a good job and worthwhile. If you grew up insecure, you may have the second perfectionistic hunger which is to be perfect so that you gain attention from others. The third kind of perfection is controlling situations with the belief that everything will be perfect. I grew up in a very dysfunctional family and my young mind thought that if I did everything perfectly and controlled everything at home then my parents would not get upset, would not drink and everything would be fine.
As I embraced a mindfulness and meditation lifestyle, I now understand the present moment is perfect. I have learned that I am worthy and that seeking the approval from others doesn’t strengthen my self-esteem, it actually weakens it. I must love myself and get validation from within. True happiness comes from within. Trying to control things to make everything perfect doesn’t work. I had no control over my parents and their actions. and reactions My perfectionistic tendencies may have helped me survive my childhood, but they are not serving me well in adulthood. I have learned that it is much easier to go with the flow in life then to try and control it. I do my best in life and I do prepare and plan, but then I detach and let the Universe handle the details. I enjoy life much more when I surrender and don’t try to control situations. I can plan a party or a meeting, but I am not in control that everyone will have a great time or enjoy himself or herself. I do my best and let go of the rest. I have learned that I don’t have any control in what happens in life, only in my reactions.
Do you have any of the perfectionistic hungers: approval/validation hunger, reflection/attention hunger, and control/certainty hunger?
If yes, what can you do to live in the present moment and accept it as perfect?
Peggy Steffens is an artist and Chopra Certified Meditation Instructor
My goal is to build a community with like-minded individuals who want to grow, share and learn from one another. Please post comments to enrich the experience for all.