You are currently viewing Perfectionism is Perfect if there is no Comparison – 4 Dec 10

Perfectionism is Perfect if there is no Comparison – 4 Dec 10

Yesterday I talked with our friend Annick about perfectionism, about the wish to be perfect. We both agreed that it is a very common problem with people here that they want to have the perfect life, the perfect job, the perfect relationship, the perfect house, the perfect family, the perfect clothes, the perfect friends and so on. This gives you a lot of pressure. Your house has to be clean and there should be no spot at the window, your career should steadily go up and bring you more and more money, your hair should always fall in a perfect form if anybody had the idea to take a picture and just in general, you have to manage everything and make it perfect. Annick mentioned that this wish is not that much there when you are happy and in harmony with yourself. Then you somehow don’t care too much if your garden is not very tidy, if your children are sometimes too loud for the neighbours or you did not find time to bake Christmas cookies. But these times are rare and mostly you go crazy about the question, if others could think you are not perfect.

I said to Annick that I actually believe perfectionism is quite normal. Everybody wants to be perfect. This would not really be the problem. The problem comes when you start comparing. Whenever you do something, you put your effort in making it perfect. You try as much as you can and you will be happy with the result, because you have put so much effort in it. You will only be disappointed if you see someone else and compare your result with theirs. Imagine you are cutting your hedge. You spend a whole day on making a nice shape and cutting away all extra twigs. In the evening you look at it and think ‘Wow, I think I did a good job!’ You are proud and smile. On the way back into the house however you see that the neighbor, who started after you in the morning, is already done and his hedge seems fuller and somehow more elegant than yours! Now there is another person and he or she made something so much better, faster or more beautiful than you, so you don’t really like yours anymore.

You only had a problem because you compared. Everybody wants to be good and there is nothing wrong in that. Just don’t think that you have to be best. Don’t compare with others. Put your mind, heart and soul into what you are doing and be proud of the result.

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This Post Has 14 Comments

  1. Deniz

    All the concepts of perfection mentioned seem to be about attachments to social expectations. They all seem to be about superficial outer appearance rather than meaningful inner content. It seems to me that such cares are hindrances to happiness. If I cared much about meeting social expectations and values about home, career, family, what to look like, what to wear etc, I would be much less happy. In fact, it seems to me that happiness may be contingent upon letting go and forgetting about all such social expectations. The values that such expectations are based on tend to be shallow. Such values reflect little understanding of what truly makes life meaningful.

  2. Swami Balendu

    Dear Deniz, You are right, these are general daily life social expectations. And a normal person who has to deal with them in daily life gets confused even about this social perfectionism. I think if they cannot deal with them, how will they understand that the true meaning of their life is not maintaining only these social issues. If I ask myself, How I can be perfect? My answer will be: I will be perfect if I can live my life with honesty and Love.

  3. Sharon Davis

    This is true actually, I would never consider myself a perfectionist but I do compare myself to people and it is a vast source of unhappiness.

  4. K.W. Orleophski

    It is interesting to me to see that not everyone wants to be good. Some people want to be bad. I see this often with my students who are in their teens. Some of them disagree with the administration about what is good and bad and that is the source of their rebellion but others think something hurts them and are drawn to it for this reason. I think this comes from a desire to be anything. They want to be something and the biggest thing they can be and if that will come for them by being “bad” that is what they choose. It is very sad to see this somewhat desperate attempt at happiness that will inevitably be a desperate failure.

  5. Max

    Your last paragraph says it all for me. Great work. I always love to pass along your website link to my friends.

  6. Rachel Snipe

    If we only like our work because we think we did a good job we might as well see the neighbors better hedges! If you do something do it because it is a beautiful thing to do.

  7. Laura Valentiene

    Thank you Swami Ji. I learn so much from my own imprefection.

  8. Charlette Snyder

    I couldn’t agree more Swami Ji. Nor could I have said this better myself. Your so clear. It is a real gift you are giving to your readers.

  9. Emily Friefeld

    You are adressing a real problem, that I see everywhere in a way that people will really understand and connect with. This is a great diary entry.

  10. Sarah Yard

    I send a lot of energy stressing over what people think of me. It is tiring and I never feel satisfied but I didn’t realize the latter until just now. I don’t know how to stop caring.

  11. Idgy Baites

    Swami Ji,You always look so happy in photos. Is there ever a time when you aren’t smiling? I’ll believe it when I see it! (Just kidding. I love this picture though).

  12. Paloma

    It would be much easier for people to relax about perfection or imperfection if the other people around them wouldn’t judge at every turn. If my kids are too loud the neighbors think poor things of me. It doesn’t seem fair. But I guess I will have to let that go or remain unhappy. What I love about this diary is that there is so little judgement in it. For that reason I respect it greatly.

  13. Ghada

    Perfect can’t exist because true standard can’t exist- all desirable and undesirable is relative.

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