Where and how have I lived the words perfect, perfectionist and perfectionism in my life?
This is an interesting thing to ask because for the most part in my conscious thoughts, I have regarded the ‘craving’ for perfection as something that ‘most people do’ – read: ‘this is what I grew up with in my environment of course’ – therefore in my decision/condition and pattern of going ‘against the tide’ – read ‘against the family patterns’ – that I developed throughout my younger years, I tried to do things in an almost deliberately flawed manner when it came to how I express myself, what would make me ‘unique’ so to speak. In art school for example, the more I would see others strived for drawing the most perfect lines of a human body, I simply continued doing my quirky curvy lines almost in a statement of ‘I don’t care about perfection’ – again the ‘rebel’ mode – which was a way to also hide the fact that I acknowledged the actual work, focus, practice that it would take to do something actually ‘perfect’ which would mean flawless, looking exactly like the person in front of me – in the case of the drawing. Did I challenge myself to do it? Yes I did, but still regarded that it was not my ‘style’ or ‘aim’ to make things perfect, there’s too much of that in the world, I said, so I kept doing it ‘my way’. I actually instead used the traditional techniques in some of my work literally ‘screw them’ to a point of mistake or accidents that could create more unpredictable and rather messy results… so, it was a controlled process of course – can’t fool too much around when working with metal plates and acids and big machines – but! still I wasn’t ever really aiming for the normal perception of ‘perfection’ in that, but the opposite.
Same with how I have my immediate surroundings. Some 10 years ago I was about to become a control freak in relation to cleanliness and basically wanting everything around me to always be spotless and in order. I have definitely slowed down on that and accepted that my life is not meant to be a ‘museum’ of sorts, it also assisted me to lower my ‘visual viciousness’ I had wherein I would get a kick out of everything that would look in some perfect arrangement, specific colors, specific objects around me etc. I guess that moving to various places to live and also going to live in a farm for one year made me reconsider what kind of ‘traits’ I had which were not of a practical purpose and moderated that to a manageable trait. I care not if I have a mess around me even though I still know – for the most part – where things are. With my clothes, I also don’t seek perfection either, rather comfort, simplicity and sure some ‘style’ but again has nothing to do with ‘no wrinkles’ on clothes or stuff like that…. Some specificity sure but not an ‘ideal image’ in place.
I can instead also recognize the ‘aversion’ I had toward the word perfect mostly stemming from what I would see around me at home, always the desire for everything to look arranged, perfect, coming out well or with the best outcomes in anything, almost in an anxious manner… so that’s why in my pattern of ‘rebelling’ against all things, I mostly would be the one that caused some reactions in my family because of having things just all over the place most of the time. When I started living alone some 10 years ago, that’s when I went into the opposite side of now becoming more like people in my family – striving for perfection at home – yet scaled it up to an almost frightening notch, flirting a bit with obsessive compulsive attitudes. This I was able to ‘control’ in relation to me, myself, my things, my cleanliness and so forth, but! There is an aspect that I certainly have lived it in and this has been pointed out to me lately precisely by my mother in our every now and then interactions.
This is living the word ‘perfect’ as an expectation of how things ( I think ‘should’ be) can be in interactions with people in the outside world. Within the consideration of ‘how things would work best for everyone’ I am constantly in the lookout for doing things as efficiently as possible when it comes to doing something for someone else, something related to work, something related to how I interact or behave in a public space, can be on the streets, at the shop, transportation, in any given situation where I can see a possibility of me doing something to better the situation, to make things run smoothly, to give space to others… at times yes a bit of sacrificing myself is applied in order to give to others or benefit others, even though I’ve been working as well on myself for the past couple of years precisely to not go too much on that side of ‘serving’ only and forget about myself.
Maybe upon reading this I consider “well! That’s how everyone should do and be and we would have a great functional and smooth-coexisting world/society/reality!” But the reality is that when this need to create a ‘perfect’ situation or the most ‘optimal’ and ‘efficient’ situation for others and myself comes with a pinch of anxiety or need to ‘control’ something in order to achieve a desired outcome that comes up with this sense of ‘urgency’ of doing it as fast as possible to not bother others or to ‘benefit’ others or to create a smooth transition of anything for others, then I am in fact not being here as breath and considering the same efficiency or best possible outcomes within stability, there is this experience behind it which surely has become automated for the most part which means: I don’t need to ‘think’ about it, it’s become a ‘natural’ thing to do. I have also seen how this pattern particularly kicks in with double strength when I am around people that I have considered – or assess after some short time of being around them – that they are ‘slow’ or ‘not so efficient’ or a bit ‘clumsy’ or see that they are not entirely ‘considerate of others’ therefore I step in almost pushing too much the point of ‘being an example’ to them in certain moments, or being that ‘awareness’ that I see they might be lacking in a moment, which comes with a tension, an extra ‘strength’ that can have adverse effects.
Here I will use the case of me towards my mother wherein she is quite lax about things and I tend to go into this ‘drive’ of doing things in a very specific, efficient, yet ‘smooth’ way in order to – in my perception – contribute to making things better in general. However what has happened is that, for example, if she is driving and suddenly she’s about to go into a parking spot, and realizes that’s not the entrance, I immediately go into seeing the rest of the cars behind and tell her with a loud voice that she’s causing a mess of traffic now, that she must just get into the wrong spot so that she can let others pass!… all of this in a rushed manner only thinking about ‘the problem’ that she must be causing To others. But in that split of a moment, I didn’t at all consider how I actually caused her to get nervous and panicky about the situation, because I got in such a state in one single moment when looking at how we could immediately ‘sort out the problem for others behind us.’ So my mother said that they must wait, because she wanted to get to the right entrance. After she got it right and we parked, she said how I immediately went into this exalted state just because of caring too much about the ones behind us, without realizing how tense she got because of my reaction, which could have caused more consequences if she would have acted in a rush and getting into an edgy spot with the car.
Afterward that day at the supermarket, same thing happened with the trolley where she would leave it wherever and I would get slightly annoyed or preoccupied about the trolley becoming an obstacle for other shoppers, and in that almost coming through toward my mother with a reclamation of ‘why did you leave it there, don’t you see others want to pass through the aisle as well?’ and so this was a second time in that day; but it had happened before where I have gone into recriminating her and others whenever something is not exactly as I expected it to be, even if upon assessing ‘the problem’ it was in fact a lack of communication, misunderstanding, assumption and general ‘rush’ that I tend to go into.
This has to do mostly with ‘doings’ as in things that relate to processes, environments, services that pertain to ‘giving a service to others’, cleaning, cooking, team work, walking in the street as a pedestrian which is a relationship of myself and the cars, etc. Which means it is ‘there’ in every day situations yet not every time do I get equally exalted, because there is a ‘sameness’ as well existent in this consideration with the person I live with – but, it does come up with others that are not in the same ‘stance’ in relation to these things and I definitely should not judge them either, but be flexible and considerate of their perspective/view and way of living things, as long as they are not entirely wrecking themselves or others’ lives and I can suggest something to correct about it, but in essence: can’t ever change another, that’s a fact.
It also seems to come from the need to ‘control’ the situation wherein I tend to get a point of satisfaction or ‘completion’ within me when schedules are fulfilled as I expected them, when things are done in the way that I planned them, when my interaction with others in the world can lead to a more efficient or better outcome = all of this I have actually charged with a positive value, and it has a lot to do with how ‘others can benefit from it’ as well, but not always. There are also my own ‘pet peeves’ where I seek to have control over certain ‘ways to do things’ wherein I forget to be flexible, yet I have been working with this word ‘flexibility’ in order to precisely not turn into a control freak, but according to feedback I get from my partner, it seems it still is there as a set of ‘unspoken rules’ that I tend to react to if not done in that manner. I realize this and continue to work on it, which means I need to apply more awareness in those ‘auto-mode’ moments, be more attentive.
So, as I can see, probably living with me and being with me in a constant manner can be quite a challenge where I can end up stressing people around me if things are not done in a particular way or if there’s just too much of a mess that I cannot control or keep track of, and this doesn’t happen much at home since I live with someone that is actually quite similar and specific to my traits, so it is something that comes up mostly when interacting with someone like my mother that is definitely the contrast point in our family where my sisters, father and I seem to have the same ‘perfectionist’ relationship toward everything around us. She does have it as well but mostly when it comes to reunions/parties where there’s many others to receive at home, but that’s about it.
This is a tricky point because I have rationalized as in ‘realized’ that I cannot control things, that I require to be flexible, that I don’t have to get all flustered by mistakes or ‘things’ that don’t come up as expected in my day to day, or when I don’t get the expected result of something where others are meant to ‘do their part’ – and this is where I’ve kept the word ‘flexibility’ in mind and it has gotten ‘better,’ but there’s always room for improvement for sure as my reality has demonstrated to me.
So, what is the solution? It’s certainly Not to say ‘Ah I should just stop caring about it all and do my own thing in whichever way I can and let everything just ‘fall’ by itself’ because that would be going into an extreme or polarity. Here it is mostly to investigate what lies behind my desire to have certain things be ‘perfect’ in my life/reality when it comes to ‘doings’ that are related to others in my environment. It has to do with the previously mentioned ‘satisfaction’ or sense of security that I’d get from ‘getting things done in the most apt/perfect possible way’, that ‘kick’ that I developed probably from doing things the way my father expected me to do and when he would approve with words like ‘That’s right, good’ it was like being less of an obstacle or a nuisance in how I knew that he wanted things to be done around the house for example. The opposite polarity or outcome of not doing so? Anxiousness, nervousness, tension and general fear from not doing things ‘perfectly’ or to the T as he would expect, or messing things up which I actually at a later stage learned to be ‘ok’ with in his presence, but these kind of reactions did certainly get recorded or engraved in the way that I deal with things, mostly remembering the sounds he would make when things would ‘fit’ just perfectly in the food cupboard after coming from supermarket, or when I would go with him to supermarket and he would always move accurately, fast and efficiently getting all the stuff in no time and so being just ‘precise’ in how he does things, that kind of father that would get you the stuff that you were about to empty up because he was aware of it and bought one just so that you don’t have to go ‘without any’!
So, these points I have linked with security, comfort, even enjoyment when things just ‘go right’ and ‘fit perfectly’ and are ‘solved in no time’ – but! The thing is I never really pondered “Hmm, well if I get a kick out of getting things right, perfect, efficiently and accurately, then what is the opposite polarity of it, what kind of fears are hidden behind this?” No! I never really have questioned that because in my mind, this is ‘the way’ that everyone should be and this way the world would be just ‘best for everyone’! and surely, I still see that If I remove my fears of fucking things up, being an obstacle to others, being a nuisance, messing things that were previously ‘right’ or not giving to others the expected service/result, and instead do things in an apt and efficient manner as I know I can do, without fearing making mistakes, without fearing making others ‘wait’ or have the experience of ‘extra energy’ to it, without getting essentially angry or flustered about it, or ‘panicky’ about things, it surely can be a way in which one can be considerate of oneself and others around, generally assessing potentials for improvements, seeing efficiency as a process in which things can be done with reasonable effort, in stability and considering all parts involved, with a leeway or flexibility for trial and errors as well.
This would mean that in the example of me telling my mother to ‘get off the way’ to let others pass behind her in this exalted manner, this would can be now turned into a realization that: Ok we are in a ‘catch 22’ she cannot go further or she crashes the car, therefore she does have to take some time to go back and then drive into the right entrance, which means that surely the drivers behind might not be able to advance for a few seconds, they might not be ‘happy’ about it but, it could also happen to them and I’m sure that my mother would be understanding of that…. In theory – lol – because the pattern is that most people get very anxious and flustered whenever someone makes us ‘waste time’ when driving somewhere. However, this is then something that can be brought up in response to ‘asking for others time’ when being in a tricky situation, and so be flexible and considerate when others are in the same ‘catch 22’ situation.
Most of my reactions have to do with time in fact, and linking efficiency with doing things in ‘no time’ or the ‘fastest possible’ and if possible, leaving ‘no trace’ at all, not being a ‘bother’ to others, or making others ‘do what I should have done’ – which again, makes sense in a certain way but when it becomes almost a constant paranoia when being around others or in particular environments or responsibilities that affect others, it can come through with some of that fear behind it that is expressed in tension, in a rush that can at the same time be perceived by others as this ‘extra charge’ and so get equally tense or anxious and stressed out which is then not at all the way to actually ‘be efficient’ and care for others’ wellbeing.
Therefore there is a balance needed where I realize that the ‘efficiency’ I can get most of the times has to do with a few seconds to a couple of minutes of doing things, sometimes hours and that is ok because we live in a world where we can’t control everything and everyone else to ‘get things right’ or ‘fast’ all the time; to realize that not everyone is in the ‘same rush’ as I perceive they are – or to realize that I am in fact the ‘rushy’ one all the time – and to realize that many times solutions – even if considering the whole situation – might not always come out in a way that makes ‘everyone happy’ as in realizing that I cannot always ‘please’ or ‘benefit’ others the way I would like to, which comes from a genuine spot in me of actually wanting the world/things to work the best way for everyone. I truly no longer do it for the sake of ‘being recognized’ in an ego manner, but more in that sense of sure, being an example of how things can work or be done, but this can still be coming through with a ‘pushy’ manner which can lead to opposite results, like the arguments I had with my mother when coming to realize what I was doing and wasn’t aware of, and kept doing while she was explaining this pattern to me, such as quickly pointing out to her that ‘hey the green is on, go!’ just because of having the consideration in the background of ‘we’re making others waste their time if you don’t step on gas!” as if hell was going to break lose for those seconds lost, which doesn’t make sense, but it also as to do with preventing honking and people from calling you names for being slow in such situations so yeah, a fear there as well on ‘affecting others’ but also preventing some further conflicts or ‘name callings’ and such. Better be ‘slow’ in these situations as a precaution, instead of rushing and ending up squashed on the car on the front.
I have also seen how this same point comes up when being in someone else’s car and if they are not the ‘fast and accurate’ drivers, then I start getting tense for them going with low speed in the high-speed lane, or for not realizing that there’s people behind them that need some space to cross and things like that. What happens is that because I create an idea of ‘what I would do’ in such situations and so because of not getting the ‘expected result,’ I go into this tension because of seeing that others are not considering others the same way I would, and pondering if I should bring it up or not as a point to become aware of, or if I’ll come off as too demanding or bossy or intransigent or plain neurotic.
These are all things I’ll for sure keep working on to create a balance in it. A practical solution I’ve been applying since this point was brought forth to my attention some 2-3 weeks ago is to deliberately ‘let it be’ or ‘let it pass’ in times when I in that moment assess that ‘me bringing up this ‘desired outcome’ is only a point of personal preference’ or if I see that there can be some flexibility applied in the situation. Some other times I have still brought up the ‘old’ pattern of getting a short-fuse temper situation toward cars while walking such as them not stopping to allow me to cross or going to fast in a yellow light and so forth, it’s at times baffling how automated my behavior can be, but it is that, just an automated aspect that requires a notch up of slowing down and living attention which I just see I can apply as ‘a-tension’ or ‘a=without tension’ which allows me to create attention – as in being stable – observing the situation, surely continuing to see what are best ways to ‘follow through’ with something but making sure I am not ‘tensing up’ about it, but being considerate, flexible and add a pinch of ‘letting be’ to it, which is more aligned with the ‘flow of life’ like the series about Perfectionism from Eqafe explained, which are a real gift to someone like me that had not entirely investigated what was behind this need for ‘perfection’ or had even identified this ‘knack’ for perfectionism in a form of control, yet having some extra ‘energy’ there disguised as an efficient/perfect outcome for myself and others.
So, I conclude that there is a requirement for a balance within this. I realize that I have automated almost this ‘holistic observer’ mode where I am constantly aware of things not only in my immediate surroundings but in general on the ‘outside of myself’ as well, almost in a natural manner if I can call it that, aiming at things being efficiently done, getting them done, consider others, consider best for all outcomes and so forth. But! I can certainly turn a notch down in the ‘how’ I live this, which is without the fear of ‘losing control’, without going into short-fuse temper or anger, or irritation if something goes wrong or if mistakes are made, or if others are not as considerate as I see the potential could be, but to understand that I can only be the example of this myself and live it in equanimity. This implies as well to not be so exigent toward others to ‘learn from me and do it!’ but to realize it’s been an entire process for me to, till this day, to change behaviors, patterns and reactions in me. I still keep working on many ingrained patterns that I was most likely going to become in a ‘full-fledged’ manner if following the patterns acquired from family and so forth, which is why I am always grateful for when it comes to walking this process of self change for some 8 years now and it’s awesome to keep discovering points like this one on ‘perfectionism’ that had to be brought to my attention, which I am usually grateful for as I’ve expressed in these blogs throughout time.
Will keep an eye on how I continue developing my moderation on this point, and will share if new dimensions open up around this one.
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