Perfect Imperfection

beauty girl cry

Last night I cried.

I was reading Chapter 2 of Alison Armstrong’s book Queen’s Code and I experienced some powerful aha moments. Things about myself that I knew, but hadn’t wanted to accept. Things about myself that I know I need to work on so I don’t continue to make the same mistakes in my relationships with colleagues, students, clients, family, and friends. And it all has to do with the illusive Perfect Person.

“Women are instinctively motivated by perfection, and the need to be perceived as perfect enough to be pleasing… But not too perfect so as to cause jealousy in other women. This is the source of our drive to improve ourselves, and our fear of standing out at the same time.” ~ Alison Armstrong

Armstrong’s words ring so true for me. I have been motivated by perfection my whole life, and it has only been in the past couple of years that I’ve realized two things: 1) there is no such thing as “perfect” and 2) everything is perfect just as it is, or it wouldn’t be that way.

But we, as women, don’t accept our inherent perfection; we only see flaws. We criticize, we judge, we blame – others, and most of all, ourselves – when we can’t meet this illusive standard of being the “Perfect Person.” But I think it’s even worse than that. We hold impossibly high standards for ourselves, and then criticize, blame, and judge ourselves when we can’t meet these standards. Then we internalize that blame and shame and feel that we can never be good enough because we are too much or too little of something we thing we should be ‘just the right amount’ of. So we keep striving, we keep trying to become “perfect” and we fail every single time. And we become depressed or anxious or engage in self-harming behaviors (e.g., overeating, over-exercising, gambling, excessive shopping, other addictive behaviors) to punish ourselves for not being perfect.

Until the damn breaks. Until we can’t take the blame and shame and self-loathing anymore, and we turn it outward.

“When women cannot get what they need — no matter how they change themselves — it hurts, deeply. They react to hurt with anger. If the hurt is not healed, the anger ages into resentment. Accumulated resentment makes a woman bitter.” ~ Alison Armstrong

I’ve seen this happen so many times – in my mother, in my female friends, in myself. And it scares me because when a woman has been pushed so far that she has become bitter, you can bet that behind that bitterness lays a sense of self-worth in shambles. And behind that obliterated sense of self-worth lays an innocent child who really and truly has no idea what she’s done wrong, only that she wasn’t perfect enough to please [insert authority figure from your childhood]. And the sad thing is she’s still trying to please that person. She doesn’t know that they’ve moved on, that adult she has moved on. She still thinks she has to be more (or less) of something; she’s still locked in a prison of perfection – a cage of her own inadvertent making – resisting change, resisting acceptance, resisting her own perceived imperfections.

Ladies, this has got to change. We have to heal these wounded parts of ourselves; we have to stop the blame and shame and judging and criticism. We have to stop suppressing our light, our authenticity, our voice. We have to let go of resistance, replace the can’ts with cans; the shouldn’ts with shoulds.

 

I want you to do something for me – for yourself – today. Take your Life Satisfaction list from last week and for every area you rated less than a 7 ask yourself the following questions:

  • What am I resisting? What am I judging in myself as imperfect that is causing this number to be so low?
  • What can I replace this resistance with? How can I alter my mindset/belief system to approach this from a healthier place?

For example, I rated my finances as a 6 because I have some debt. Doing this process revealed the following:

  • What am I resisting? What am I judging in myself as imperfect that is causing this number to be so low?

I am resisting my debt because I have judged that having any debt means I’m irresponsible with my money.

  • What can I replace this resistance with? How can I alter my mindset/belief system to approach this from a healthier place?

I can change my belief to be that investing in myself and my company is a smart move when it feels in alignment and congruent with my mission.

Now doesn’t that feel so much better than blame and shame? While you’re at it turn your new beliefs into affirmations and recite them every morning as you look at yourself in the mirror and watch your life change for the better!

 

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