What woman does not know it? The feeling of being perfect. Don’t you? Then you must have done something right. Perfection is a superstition that drives more and more women to peak performance every year. A well-paying job, great looks, children with above-average achievements and good manners, and a husband that makes you the envy of other women.
Doesn’t sound familiar? Me neither. I have basically never heard of a man being asked the question: How do you manage to balance everything so perfectly? A woman, on the other hand, already knows this standard question and dismisses it with a mild smile while convulsively trying not to look at the clock.
The constant drive for perfection
But where does the urge to want to be “perfect” come from?
For all those who had this fear: It is not innate. As children, we are usually quite carefree: we play, laugh, cry, and learn a lot about the world, others, and especially ourselves. It’s hard to pinpoint when it starts. One possible moment would be within our kindergarten years.
“Don’t get dirty (again)!”
“Eat up the vegetables!”
“Don’t play too wild!”
Statements made by mothers and fathers out of concern for their children can send the wrong signals from an early age.
Of course, they do not want to impose any prohibitions on their children, but subconsciously they plead with their statements for a limited light-heartedness of their children.
Already in this moment they can trigger something whose extent they cannot estimate: The urge not to want to disappoint, the urge to be noticed, praised and loved, and ultimately the accompanying urge to be perfect.
From this moment on, a domino effect occurs. Now there is no need for family, friends or colleagues to act as triggers for the “urge for perfection“, this is now steadily nurtured by oneself.
For example, even if we deviate from the seemingly determined path in our teenage years, we want that too, completely and without compromise. We rebel, rebel, tear down all the walls we feel constricted by and… ultimately find our way back.
Finding the way out of the perfection spiral through acceptance
We want to live an independent and sovereign life, security, a partner by our side who loves us as we are and what is the price?
Disguise, renunciation, compromise. But does it have to be? Of course not!
The way out of the “perfection spiral” is not easy, but it can be done. The keywords here are:
Acceptance, self-love and mindfulness.
For example, think of a new life situation like a math problem. Identify problem, analyze problem, solve problem. Of course, this includes that you also accept a situation and do not suppress it.
Never been good at math? No problem, get help! Many mistakenly believe that they are lone warriors in this world and have to solve every problem alone.
I’ll give you some advice: there are others who sometimes simply know better. This fact sounds quite harsh, but it is true. This also includes acceptance, which allows us to ask for help in a difficult situation.
He who loves himself has nothing more to fear
But even more important is our self-love. Sounds a little vain? It is not at all. If you love yourself, know your strengths and weaknesses, the outermost limits that you must not cross, then the step to more serenity is a piece of cake. For me personally, the point of self-love is the most difficult in a long life and career path. Encouraging others and giving them love is easy. Loving ourselves and accepting that there are things we just can’t do is very hard. But fortunately, our brain works like a muscle, which means we can train it.
For example, smiling is a perfect way to practice self-love. In the morning, smile at your partner, your children, your colleagues, strangers on the street, and especially at your own reflection. If you think you’re too shy for it or it feels too weird for you, always ask yourself: what would be the worst thing that could happen? When someone smiles back? That someone asks the reason for your apparent good mood? Doesn’t sound so bad, does it? So: Don’t hesitate, try it out!
So you accept problems that arise, diligently practice self-love, and thus find a little bit back to your natural composure. So what else do you need mindfulness for?
Finding your way back to more awareness with mindfulness
The topic of mindfulness seems to have become quite popular in recent months. Everyone writes about it, everyone raves about it, everyone seems to live it.
In the context of the “art of perfection,” however, mindfulness takes on a different focus. This is not about paying attention to one’s diet, environmental influences or certain situations and being aware of them. It’s all about you.
When we take care to be perfect, we try not to make mistakes (in front of others). We pay attention to our language, a good posture, our clothes, etc. What is the credo here? Just don’t stand out, and if you do, then definitely in a positive way.
If we now practice more mindfulness, the demand for perfection falls away, because it becomes superfluous. What is the sound of my voice? How do I breathe? What does my body need right now? How does my face change when I laugh?
Wondering what these questions change? I tell you: you change everything.
The (in)perfect perfection
The spiral of perfection begins to dissolve because you have learned to break it. Family, friends and colleagues stop becoming spectators of a facade they themselves would like to discard.
You will be happier with yourself and others. You’ll be more calm in the face of situations that previously drove you crazy, and you’ll be more mindful of traits that make you perfect in the only eyes that matter: Your own.
About the author
Kinga Bartczak berät, coacht und schreibt zu Female Empowerment, neuer Arbeitskultur, Organisationsentwicklung systemischen Coaching, und Personal Branding.
Zudem ist sie Geschäftsführerin der UnternehmerRebellen GmbH und Herausgeberin des FemalExperts Magazins.