Is there no peace in the search for perfection?

Contribution by Isabel Hernández Negrín

Las Palmas, Canary Islands, Spain

In theory we know that perfection does not exist.  However, many of us tend to seek it.  Psychologists say that because of having demanding, authoritarian or perfectionist parents, competition with very talented siblings, or feeling encouraged by the praise by their elders, children can feel driven to pursue the goal of being perfect.

It may be that we know someone with these characteristics and we know that they have difficulty in accepting results, they are strict with themselves and even more so with others, if they do not meet their expectations, and they do not allow people to question them.  Wanting to do things well and knowing how to do so is wonderful, but such exigency can undermine a person’s self-esteem, if they are always unconsciously comparing themselves with an ideal they consider they have to attain in order to be acceptable.

Those people, unfortunately for them, become role models for many, since they are responsible and reliable, good and tireless workers who always contribute to a working group.  The reward is a carrot to continue along the path of perfection.

Seeking perfection has a high price that we pay through anxiety, suffering and physical and emotional wear and tear.  In short, this pursuit of the ghost of perfection does not bring peace since we will always be within a hair’s breadth of not being able to fulfil that image of perfection.  Always weighing things up, always on guard.  

This seems to be a particular example of the idea of pursuing a desire to obtain gratification, the fulfilment of some real or imaginary lack.  Nobody is immune to this.  Pursuing an ideal leaves us at the mercy of anxiety since, faced with an ideal, few of us have a chance of attaining it.  And so we continue to be enslaved by a ceaseless search for fulfilment.  The desire for perfection always leaves us exhausted and spent along the way.

Be consciously imperfect!  It is much healthier.