In everyday life, many of us strive to maintain physical health. Ideally, we try to eat the right foods, exercise and take care of our bodies. However, sometimes we get caught up in perfecting, rather than improving or maintaining, ourselves.
We spend hours in the gym, restrict our food intake to unhealthy degrees, become obsessive about our appearance, etc. This quickly takes us down an unhealthy path and threatens our physical well-being, destroying our abilities to focus on the other aspects of ourselves.
In the same way seeking perfection can threaten our physical health, it can destroy our emotional, spiritual and psychological health. Additionally, it can sabotage our relationships – romantic and otherwise – by preventing us from being capable of loving and accepting ourselves and others. So how can you avoid this trap?
Be Your Own Best Parent
Loving others begins with loving ourselves. So, when it comes to learning how to not place unreasonable expectations of perfection on friends, family members and potential life partners, we have to stop placing them on ourselves.
Though it may seem an antiquated reference, there is a movie that makes this idea hit home: “Mommie Dearest.” The movie is about the actress, Joan Crawford, who is overly focused on maintaining the appearance of perfection.
Her daughter, Christina, pays the highest price for this imbalance. She is emotionally and spiritually neglected, verbally and psychologically abused, and forced to maintain the same perfect outward appearance.
To be a parent like this to your inner child would be an act of self-inflicted abuse. That’s why it’s so important to be your own best parent, rather than your own worst, Joan Crawford version.
How do you do that? Well, the best way is to monitor your thoughts and behaviors in regards to criticizing yourself or focusing on perfection. If it’s something you would not do or say to your child, it’s a no-no for you too.
You wouldn’t require your child to be perfect with threat of shame or punishment. Just as in the movie, that constitutes abuse. Be kind and caring to yourself the same way you would your own child.
Accept Yourself As You Are
Allowing yourself to simply “be” is the best gift you can give. It is unconditional, positive regard and genuine acceptance. To put it in spiritual terms, it’s what Jesus does. He loves us as we are.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that you stop caring about or bettering yourself altogether. Nor does it imply that you should stop holding yourself or others accountable. It’s simply accepting yourself as you are, flaws and all.
Once you do that, you can begin to take steps to improve your holistic health – physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. This attitude lets you be encouraged by your progress rather than disappointed in any unmet expectations.
Focus On The Progress
It is important to acknowledge and celebrate your progress as an individual. After all, when a baby takes its first steps, it is a wondrous achievement that is generally met with cheers and joy. Clearly, baby steps count.
The important thing to remember is that we, just like babies, are growing and learning. It is a daily process that requires an act of patience with ourselves and others. We will stumble. We will fall. But, we must learn to get back up and move forward, without shame, guilt, judgement or criticism.
If we focus on progress, rather than striving for or expecting perfection, we can live in grace and compassion for ourselves and others.
You may also be interested in 3 Tips For Building Confidence Through Your Faith In God