Mindful, creative, colourful living.

Sunday, 24 February 2019

The Problem With Perfection

Every day, whether we’re watching television, reading a newspaper, travelling to work or scrolling through social media, we’re bombarded with images of perfection.

Perfectly sculptured bodies, perfect families, perfect meals, perfect holidays and perfect homes are everywhere, from billboards to smartphones. Huge teams of marketing experts, advertising specialists, photographers and sales executives are drafted in to sell us whatever it is the company they are working for want us to buy.

They analyse our spending habits, scrutinise our shopping trolleys, examine our personal lives, then launch a campaign telling us how much better and easier their product will make our lives. 

But what are they really trying to sell us?

While the ad-men certainly want us to buy their product, so that they can make money, what they are primarily selling us is an idea. They sell us the idea that having the product they wish us to buy will make us more attractive, gain us more friends, increase our prestige and, this is the crucial bit, make us feel better about ourselves. 

But, you know what happens?

You end up buying the idea, and the product, only to find out that it makes no difference. You may have a freshly painted living room or a gleaming new car, but once the freshness wears off, you feel as bad about yourself as you did before, possibly worse. Not only do you feel like crap, but your wallet is a bit lighter, too. Then the ad-men come up with another idea that will make you feel even better. The cycle goes on and on.

Being aware of the ad-men’s tricks is a good thing. But telling yourself ‘I know what you’re trying to do, and I’m not falling for it,’ has little effect.  No matter how hard you try, your subconscious is still taking in all this imagery and, whether you’re aware of it or not, it filters into your brain, and it does affect your spending habits and how you perceive yourself and your life.

No wonder so many people nowadays are suffering from low self-esteem and even depression. Most of us mere mortals can never live up to the standards set by the ad-men. Our subconscious minds tell us that we can never be like those ‘Photoshopped’ models or have that perfectly arranged living room, so our brain tells us we’ll never be ‘good enough’.

But it doesn’t end there; subconsciously, we still long to be ‘good enough.’ We continue to buy the stuff the ad-men keep telling us will make us feel better about ourselves.  So, the cycle of feeling bad about ourselves and buying stuff to make us feel better about ourselves repeats itself over, and over, and over again.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, perfectionism, or the need to be perfect, creeps into our everyday lives. We often want to do stuff, but we’re scared to.


Well, it’s because we have to do it perfectly. If we don’t do it perfectly, people will ridicule us, they will say nasty things that will make us feel bad about ourselves, and,  the big one, they will reject us.  

Fear of rejection often comes from a need to be perfect. If we aren’t perfect, people won’t like us, we tell ourselves. So we put off doing those things we long to do, in case we don't do them correctly. We stay trapped in our bubble,  so people won’t reject us.  In short, we procrastinate. This leads to frustration, anger and low self-esteem.

I remember reading an article about a well- known author. In the piece, he said he had never written a ‘perfect' book. The interviewer questioned him on that, saying, that thousands of people had read his work and that the author made an excellent living from his writing, so how could he say his work wasn’t perfect.  The author made the point that no matter how many people considered his writing unflawed that he, the writer, would always see the blemishes. 

Often we pressure ourselves into thinking that for anything to be worthwhile it has to be perfect. We have to paint the perfect picture or write the perfect piece of prose. We look around, and we see other people doing the things we want to do, only doing them so perfectly, that for us to even attempt them would be a waste of our time and energy.

So, what is the problem with perfection?

Perfection or trying to achieve perfection leads to no productivity – we procrastinate.

Perfection or trying to achieve perfection leads to anger, low self-esteem and frustration.

Perfection or trying to achieve perfection leaves us living a life of regrets, because  the fear of rejection that arises from thinking that 'no matter what we do it will never be perfect,' means we never step out of our comfort zone or accomplish our goals.

Perfection or trying to achieve perfection stops us living the life of our dreams.      

Don’t let trying to be perfect hold you back from accomplishing the things you long to achieve.

Paint that picture, write that article and hit that publish button.  Who knows, those first tentative brushstrokes or those few words, no matter how badly written, could be the next big thing.  

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  1. Great post!
    Perfection is highly over rated in my opinion.
    I do not believe that there is such a thing and people who crave it are in for a let down~
    Have a nice Sunday~

    1. Hi, Jan. Thank you for commenting. I think you are right. There is no such thing as perfection; only the idea of perfection that all these companies want us to buy into.

  2. Thanks for the great advice today, you are right, just do it!

    1. Thank you, Christine, for commenting. Yep, just get on and live your life, and do the things that make you happy.

  3. Who is to say what perfection is?
    I think there is too much emphasis put on that word.

    As always your words give food for thought, thank you.

    All the best Jan

    1. Hi, Jan. Thank you for commenting. Nowadays, it appears that perfection is what the ad-men tell us it is. And lots of people fall into the trap every day.