Our findings suggest that self-oriented perfectionism, socially the uninhibited pursuit of self-gain is prized more than anything else (Esposito, ). Co- dependent child-parent relationships also seem to be on the rise. Additionally, being perfect is unattainable, unachievable and undesirable. them with unrelenting stress, often creating havoc in their relationships. I have come to learn that their pursuit of perfection is really a disguise for their insecurity. It took a long time for me to face the dishonesty of my pursuit. I was trying The perfection of myself was hard for me to live with, impossible for others. We see the insecurity and fear dressed and disguised in spiritual terminology. We need to Our judgment and prejudice distort every relationship we engage in. We deny.
It even led to a temporary optimism about life in general. Because I have always been a hypochondriac, my half of the kitchen that I shared with Shane was taken up with a collection of expensive vitamins, supplements and juicing gadgets, while his was mainly taken up with empty gin bottles and fag packets.
You could say we were both extremists, in our own separate ways. I expressed an interest in writing the health page, and because normal people preferred to write about holidays or food or celebrities, that was what I found myself doing. I was now pretty much a normal nonentity. I had regular work, but my optimism and gratitude were soon exhausted.
Angel In Disguise Chapter One
Instead of the invisible malevolent force which tried to thwart me at every turn, there was now a flesh and blood person to oppose me. My idea, in taking on the health page was to have unlimited free access to all kinds of massages and therapies and things.
Instead, Mary insisted that I spend my time interviewing people with proper problems, things like Cancer and Diabetes and Multiple Sclerosis. She also insisted that I research the illnesses and find out what the experts had to say about them, as well as finding out how the sufferers lives had been affected and how the felt and how they coped.
It was, therefore, an affront to my ideals, to have to interview GPs and scientists, but it paid the rent, and so I put up with it. Having initially been delighted and thrilled to get paid at all, I began to feel ripped off and under valued and trapped in a rat race, and having longed for years to have an audience for my writing, and to have a pay check, I began to resent having to work for a living.
I suspected that no one would remember who wrote the health page. I would be largely ignored by the general public. Shane, being a well known rock star and being quite unusual to look at, had been always been a self-confessed self-publicist, and when we went out together, we got stared at, and were constantly approached by people.
We were generally made welcome at movie premieres, and at gigs, in fact we were welcome everywhere, it seemed, except on airplanes. I was important by association. Now, as a lone nobody-special, I occasionally got invited to launch parties, but nobody noticed me or approached me, and I never got into the VIP bits, which we would naturally have gravitated towards. I wore increasingly brightly coloured clothes and often pinched myself to see if I had become actually invisible to the human eye.
Every time I let myself think about how far down in the world I had come, I bawled uncontrollably. I had realised, of course, that all of this business of living a normal, healthy life meant leaving Shane and leaving behind the rock and roll lifestyle to which I had become accustomed. I was determined to try to make it on my own.
He had made it easier by going to live in Ireland without me, thereby technically abandoning me. And I had had some practice, as I had left him quite a few times before, usually when I was annoyed about something.
There had been a relatively recent incident during which I had found him in bed with three junkies in New Orleans. I freaked and stormed out. On three previous occasions, I had found him in bed with people other than myself and had left him, and on each of the many occasions that I had stormed off in a huff, I had been certain that there was no going back.
But it was only ever necessary for him to sit it out. I would always be back. But it was what I had decided was best and I was determined to see it through, if at all possible. It is never sensible to substitute one relationship for another, especially when you are doing so out of loneliness.
But I have seldom done things that were sensible. So when I met a very sweet guy called Ronan, at a party, quite soon after my arrival in Dublin, I was convinced that he would help to make me less miserable. There were other problems. Olan was nearly ten, and I knew he should have his bunk bed to himself. She had fixed me up with a therapist who kept telling me I needed to get grounded.
I had absolutely no idea what this meant, even though I had heard the term used often enough.
The Problem with Perfection
I pressed her for an explanation and she suggested that I might take up gardening. I promised to consider it. And I plucked up the courage to move into a bedsit, which could conceivably have accommodated a pot plant. But immediately after I moved in, I got depressed, and stayed depressed. I had been inclined to depression since childhood, it ran in the family on both sides.
My granny died in a loony bin, after being treated with ECT. My other granny spent a lot of time in bed, on valium. Many of the women in our family took to the bed regularly and not to have sex, but to escape.
I remember catching my mum doing it, when I was a toddler. She would just lie there sucking her fingers, like a baby, unwilling to move. I understand that now. It was a place of safety. For me, sleeping was much nicer than waking, which was why I had trouble identifying with people who told me I should be glad to be alive. If death was anything like sleep, then what was the problem with death? A blissful escape was how I saw it. I felt isolated and unwanted. That I was just going to get older and fatter and greyer and lonelier, and that when it was eventually time to die, which would be a time when I needed people to send me off, I would be alone and lonely.
Shane and I had first met when I was sixteen and we had been together for almost all of my adult life. But because of his lifestyle, life with him was often terrifying and frequently anxiety inducing. I had invested my best years in a relationship that was utterly doomed, as far as I could see. The way I looked at it, my life had been a total failure. Other people my age had careers and families and houses and things. I had absolutely nothing except a few boxes in a rented bed-sit.
And as my life progressed, there was the possibility of illness, accidents and the general debilitation associated with ageing to look forward to.
The Problem with Perfection | Mel Schwartz
Perhaps a hip replacement, false teeth, glasses. The joys and thrills of life had been removed and in their place was the harsh reality of being a nobody, with no prospects. Just the daily grind of keeping myself alive and off the streets was unbearable.
Tension and tedium until eventually, death. It was not an option. I knew that if I tried to kill myself, I would make a mistake and mutilate myself horribly and upset my family and become even more of a burden than I already was, by having to be fed and cared for.
There was nothing for it but to fend for myself, for as long as it took. But every morning, I woke up willing myself to just disappear. To shrink until there was nothing left, to become invisible, to no longer be burdened with a body to look after, or a mind to be imprisoned in. To no longer be a burden. There was, of course, the possibility of Enlightenment. I had prayed, fasted, meditated, chanted, taken hallucinogenics, been hypnotised, been chakra balanced, regressed, rebirthed, reikied.
The boxes in my room were packed with books, almost all of them helpful. There were boxes, too, of tapes. Meditation tapes, guided visualisations, positive thinking, NLP, hypnotherapy. Millions of books, millions of tapes. On tour with Shane, I had spent hours and hours meditating. More than most Tibetan monks.
The Problem with Perfection
On the tour-bus, while Shane and his band watched videos, I meditated furiously, to drown out the noise. In the dressing-room, in the hotel, at the side of the stage, I meditated. I sent light to the Omniverse on a daily basis, and visualised world peace, but to no avail. I was utterly, utterly, utterly miserable. But if there was anything up there, I was interested in knowing what He or She was up to. I wanted to have it out with Him or Her, when we finally met, so I had been keeping the diaries as a way of making sure that my misery would not go unnoticed.
It was not possible to scream loudly enough or long enough to convey to the rest of the world how I felt, but one day, I knew, I would become famous and the diaries would have to be published. Then everyone would know. Having nothing to lose, that day in September, I decided to have another go at communicating with whatever was up there, in charge of things. I decided it was time for an ultimatum. Which was that there was nothing there and that all the stuff about angels and guides and spirits was just wishful thinking and New Age nonsense.
I would be patient with them. I would explain to them just how miserable I was, and ask them to make me happy. I would ask them to make me like normal people who think that life is worth living and who do their best to stay alive. Only time, and time was something I had too much of. So I arranged myself comfortably against the pillows, and wrote down a question, on a piece of paper, addressed to my personal angels. Are you there and can you talk to me?
Almost immediately, words started to come into my mind, and I wrote them down. Not knowing what was coming. One word, followed by another word, until a whole sentence appeared. This is what it said: Your doubts are encompassed in the plan! All you need to do is write down whatever is bothering you and wait for the answers.
It is not necessary to worry about it. It would help you to realise that you are not alone in doing this work, however much you may think you are and you do not have to do it all by yourself. Your willingness to be a channel and to accept that you can be a channel without having to be different in any way, this is all that is required of you.
It has no place, however, in a participatory worldview. For the perfect individual would be a constant reminder to all others of their own shortcomings. Who would really tolerate, let alone enjoy, being with someone who was inhumanely perfect? When I speak on this subject —the problem with perfectionism — I find that people often protest that they are simply striving for excellence and may ask what is wrong with trying to improve.
But must you always be striving to improve? If so, you are forever climbing the ladder reaching to the rung above you. You never reach your goal, there are always more rungs. The paradox here is that to perpetually strive suggests that you may not be at peace and that actually impedes your forward progress. In other words, the balance that is derived from pausing from the inexorable improvement permits intuitive growth.
When we experience being present in the moment, our personal evolution may vault forward. However, if we are ceaselessly pushing ourselves forward, we may actually impinge the very progress we seek. Machines are intended to be productive. Humans are designed in much more complex ways, in which productivity is an important part, but not the entirety of our purpose.
American culture is driven toward excellence and the mantra of doing the best you can requires a deeper examination. If we always value performance over tranquility or being present, we are sacrificing balance and a core value of what it means to be human.
Emotional intelligence and relatedness may be sacrificed in the pursuit of excellence. A life well lived would necessitate a harmony of excellence, joyfulness, relatedness and peace of mind. When one element obscures another, a lack of equilibrium sets in. A Mask for Insecurity I have often counseled people who were beleaguered by their need to be perfect.
I have come to learn that their pursuit of perfection is really a disguise for their insecurity.
When we do that, we judge ourselves. Usually we strive toward being perfect to compensate for a sense of inadequacy. People who want to be perfect usually have an exaggerated sense of their own shortcomings. So they decided that only by being perfect would they be beyond reproach. As a compensatory response, the drive toward perfection is erroneously sought as a solution.
Perfectionists tend to think that other people are somehow better or superior to them, so they need to be without flaw just to catch up. This is a terribly damaging myth. Individuals who seek perfection are more sensitive to the judgments of others. In fact, these judgments are most often imagined.
The only perfection is in being present, yet the perfectionist is never present The closest thing to perfection is in the ability to be fully present. So you see the perfectionist is never really present. The pursuit of perfection limits our ability to be present and literally robs us of the vitality of life. It is unachievable, unimaginable and frankly undesirable, so why pursue it? Your time would be far better spent in delving into how to transcend the insecurity that catalyzed the desire for perfection in the first place.
Analyzing, measuring and judging are the tools of the perfectionist. Do not measure thyself! In my work as a psychotherapist I often see individuals who are plagued by a relentless measuring of themselves. These people carry on an internal dialogue whereby their critical voice is enslaving, as they feel compelled to judge and measure most aspects of their lives.
In such circumstances, these individuals rarely get to be present.