Do you suffer from Atelophobia?
– The fear of imperfection. The fear of not being good enough.
Not too long ago, I received an email from a client about my article: The thing about perfection. She wondered about perfectionism. If we’re not seeking perfection, then what? What are we working towards? I thought I’d share my thoughts with you too.
I enjoyed your essay on perfectionism but it left me thinking. If perfectionism is an unsustainable goal, do you think greater strength, and resiliency and inner alignment is what we are striving toward instead?
I keep feeling like my life isn’t quite “perfect” enough to be called a success yet, or for me to really support myself and get myself out there. Can you share your thoughts?
I definitely can!
It’s true that I don’t think perfection is a sustainable goal. It’s not possible, for a start, and a focus on perfection can actually mean we’re constantly focused on problems and issues that need to be fixed and – guess what? This means we’re likely to create MORE problems and issues, not less.
Plus, who wants to live with the kind of negative self-talk that tends to accompany a belief that we should be more perfect and a constant feeling that we’re just Not Quite Good Enough. Along with that tricksy and ridiculous belief that we MIGHT be good enough when we do x, achieve y or tick of this next life stage. Tricksy and ridiculous because … it’s always a lie! Once we’ve achieved that step, the goal posts always move…
I think what you choose to seek or focus on with personal development is so different for everyone, depending on their life circumstances and situation.
For example, someone who had a lot of childhood related issues might feel they have a lot of work to do to heal and restore eg self-worth, self-acceptance and self-belief. Sabotage might be a major issue and it’s always worth exploring and clearing the underlying beliefs that cause us to sabotage.
Whereas someone else may have experienced a great deal of grief or trauma in more recent years, or have had major job or relationship challenges. They might be working towards self-forgiveness, resilience and strength.
Someone who feels surrounded by chaos will have such different objectives to someone who feels bored and stuck. Someone who has achieved their goals and feels unfulfilled will have different objectives to someone who feels blocked and agitated because they feel they’re going in circles.
For me personally, sometimes I have been quite business and growth focused, and at other times the support I have needed has been more for resilience and stability. I also find it is so important to feel acceptance with myself and my life now, even though I may still choose to make changes, rather than be in a state of “striving” (I took a long time to learn that one!)
As for the thought that a life can only be called a success when it has a level of perfection – I suspect that the opposite is actually to be more likely to be true.
Many people who achieve great success (on whatever level) have also overcome great challenges. In fact, I don’t think challenges stop just because we have achieved “success”. The nature of the challenges just changes.
To achieve success, it is very likely you will have to try new things, take some risks, be a leader, juggle demands and grow on a personal level. This is very rarely a linear, smooth process and it can be downright messy at times! If we’re not supporting ourselves through such times, we make it extra difficult for ourselves.
There are no easy answers about what to work towards in life.
I believe our lives have different seasons. Some are for growth and change, some are for healing, some are for creativity, some may be for juggling commitments, some are for being out in the world, others are for grieving or stillness.