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  • Ela Senghera

Embracing Imperfection for a Happier Life

We live in a world constantly bombarding us with images of apparent perfection—perfect bodies, perfect lives, and perfect families plastered across social media and advertisements. This can leave many of us feeling inadequate, flawed, and like we can never measure up. But here's the truth: perfection is unattainable. Pursuing it is not only futile but also destructive.

Interestingly, research shows women and men often pursue perfection differently. Women tend to internalize it more, obsessing over their bodies, homes, and abilities as parents and partners. Men, on the other hand, tend to focus more on workplace perfection—wanting to be the elite employee, boss, or breadwinner.

We've come into this world to experience, explore, and learn—not to be perfect or to have a perfect life. Perfection is an illusion that robs us of fully living. But why do we get caught up in trying to be perfect?

Here are five common driving forces: 1. Low Self-Esteem

When we feel inadequate, we often try to overcompensate by presenting a flawless exterior. This need to appear perfect on the outside is a mask to hide our perceived internal flaws when in reality, we should be living authentically as our true selves. We believe that if we can just show the world a perfect version of ourselves, we might finally feel good enough. However, this is a never-ending cycle, as the standards we set for ourselves are typically unattainable. The root of this issue is a deep-seated belief that we are not as worthy as we are, leading us to seek validation through perfection.

2. Fear of Failure

The fear of making mistakes can be paralyzing. In our minds, failure is not an option, and any misstep is seen as a catastrophic event. This fear drives us to aim for perfection as a way to avoid failure altogether. However, this fear can lead to inaction, as we become so afraid of doing something imperfectly that we avoid trying new things entirely. The irony is that this fear of failure prevents us from learning and growing, as we miss out on the valuable lessons that come from our mistakes.

3. Seeking Control

In a world that often feels chaotic and unpredictable, striving for perfection can feel like the only way to gain a sense of control. By attempting to control every aspect of our lives and eliminate any chance of error, we believe we can create a safe and predictable environment. However, this pursuit of control is an illusion and we should strive to embrace changes in our lives. Life is inherently unpredictable, and trying to manage it through perfectionism only leads to increased stress and anxiety. Instead of feeling more in control, we end up feeling more overwhelmed. If you need help with this reach out to me

4. Seeking Approval

Many of us crave approval from others, and we believe that meeting others' high standards will earn us acceptance and love. This need for external validation drives us to pursue perfection in all aspects of our lives. We fear that showing our true, imperfect selves will lead to rejection. However, constantly seeking approval from others is exhausting and ultimately unfulfilling. True acceptance and love come from embracing our authentic selves, not from meeting impossible standards set by others.

5. Unrealistic Expectations

We've internalized an idealized vision of life that is simply impossible to achieve. This often comes from societal pressures, media portrayals, and cultural norms that depict an unattainable standard of perfection. We hold ourselves to these unrealistic expectations, believing that we should be able to do it all and have it all. This sets us up for failure, as no one can live up to such high standards. The constant striving to meet these expectations only leads to feelings of inadequacy and disappointment.

Chasing perfection often stems from low self-worth and an intense fear of making mistakes. We become afraid to try new things unless we can do them flawlessly right from the start. However, growth and progress happen through trial and error, not perfection. When we cling to perfection, we rob ourselves of courage, spontaneity, and the ability to learn through missteps. We stop taking risks and pushing boundaries that could help us reach our highest potential. Perfectionism becomes an endless loop of anxiety and self-criticism rather than a motivator.

The paradox is that being imperfect, embracing our flaws and shortcomings, is ultimately what allows us to be fully human. It gives us relatable struggles that create connections with others. Vulnerability, not perfection, is the key to forming deep bonds and a meaningful life. So how do we stop pursuing the myth of perfection and instead cultivate self-acceptance, inner peace, and growth?

  1. Practice Self-Compassion: Be kind to yourself when you fall short or struggle, viewing yourself with acceptance.

  2. Redefine Success: Let go of perfectionistic standards and anchor yourself to more realistic goals like effort, growth, and doing meaningful work.

  3. Reframe Failure: See failures and setbacks not as indictments on your self-worth, but opportunities to learn and recalibrate.

  4. Stop Comparing: The only person you should measure yourself against is who you were yesterday. Comparisons breed insecurity.

  5. Live Presently: Perfectionism is a way to endlessly worry about the future. Stay focused on doing your imperfect best in this moment.

At its core, being imperfect, vulnerable, and scrambling a bit is the most perfect representation of being human. Our authentic journey, with all its zigs and zags, is what gives our lives richness and growth—not perfection. So, make peace with your imperfections. Let go of the compulsive drive to present an ideal reality to the world, and instead get comfortable showing up as your real, flawed, messy self.

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