The Perfection Perception

29 Mar

I have always described myself as a perfectionist.  A textbook Virgo, I have always aspired to be the perfect sister, daughter, friend, performer, student, and employee. I have a great number of vivid memories of when my quest for perfection and subsequent failure left me feeling quite disappointed.

Cut to a scene in my childhood, when I was in Kindergarten. I was drawing a picture…

…when suddenly, I had the urge to go potty.

NO, I MUSN’T GO, I thought. My picture is not perfectly polished! My crayons are not properly put away!

You bet I finished that picture AND I put the crayons away just so. I also ended up with wet pants, embarrassment, and a trip to the nurse’s office to find some dry (and ill-fitting) clothes for me to wear.

It was not until I was an adult, after earning a Master’s Degree in one year, and realizing that I was quite miserable, that I decided to reassess my idea of “perfection”. Why was it so important to me anyway? 

I finally realized that no one on this entire planet is perfect. Of course, I had heard that saying over and over again as a kid, but I guess I always thought that there were exceptions to the rule anyway. There were always those people that I perceived to be perfect at mostly everything; those who had the perfect house, the perfect kids, the perfect job, or the perfect life in general. Now I know that that was just a PERCEPTION and not a reality. There is a distinct difference. 

The minute I gave myself permission to stop striving for perfection was the minute that I began accepting myself.  I also began forgiving myself for the mistakes I had made and seeing those mistakes as learning experiences. I truly believe that we need to learn from all of our experiences, both  good and bad. We need to forgive ourselves, learn from those experiences, and carry on.

As I listen and talk to people who are struggling with losing weight, I can’t help but get the vibe that a lot of people are striving for perfection in their weight loss efforts. A lot of people adopt an all-or-nothing attitude. For example, many people are dead-set on sticking to their meal plan exactly, sticking to a regimented exercise schedule, and are not allowing for any flexibility. If they slip-up, I see many people giving up or calling themselves failures. They think, “Why bother? I will just fail at everything I try anyway.” 

My advice to myself and to everyone else is to be kind to yourself. If you overslept and missed your workout today, maybe you needed that sleep. Try to take a short walk instead. If you accidentally eat a piece of cake, don’t give up! Figure out how to set yourself up for success for the next time you’re in a tempting situation. 

Life is not black and white and neither is losing weight and getting healthy. Forget about following a certain plan perfectly and focus on adopting healthier habits into your life! Over time, you will reach your goals. If you believe that you can and treat yourself with kindness, you can achieve success!


8 Responses to “The Perfection Perception”

  1. Reed March 29, 2012 at 9:24 pm #

    Accidentally eat a piece of cake… LOL!!! I love it!

  2. primalbeergeek March 29, 2012 at 11:49 pm #

    I found a book that introduced me to this concept recently and I think its an awesome book.

    Check this out.

    It really goes into how we set goals for ourselves that are often too high, and then beat ourselves up when we fail to achieve them.

  3. thebestme4me March 30, 2012 at 12:10 am #

    So true! What gets many of us is the constant battle with perfectionism!

  4. Paul Johnson March 30, 2012 at 2:28 am #

    So true! You hit my old attitude on the head with this. For the longest time I made strict diets with strict rules, and when I slipped (which, given how much I was sacrificing, was never a surprise) I would give up in defeat and binge eat.

    Since then I have learned to cut back in manageable ways, and exercise to my abilities. Which, I might add, have grown greatly over the last couple of months. I started out at a whopping 369 lbs (at least that’s the most I saw on the scale) and am now teetering just above 300. I still have a long way to go, but with how great I feel, and with making slow but effective changes, it has been a positive journey rather than a strenuous and will-breaking one.

    You can do it!!!

  5. Toni Thorn March 30, 2012 at 9:36 pm #

    I remember that Meg you speak of;) I also remember a girl who never gave up!! I admired for you that, even back then. I am so glad I had a minute to read this today (and many other days too) This speaks very closely to where I am with my life in the past few years, and realizations that I too am trying to use, to adapt and be healthier mentally and physically.
    I’ve learned as a parent that some of the things you teach your children, many times are lesson you too could learn from, for instance, like you were just discussing here “don’t be so hard on yourself” I find my self saying that quite often

    • Health Coach Meg April 1, 2012 at 7:04 pm #

      Thanks Toni! I definitely think that we all struggle with this. It’s great to hear that you’re adapting and making yourself healthier overall. Keep up the excellent work 🙂

  6. nhia April 30, 2012 at 7:11 am #

    Hi Meg! Thank you for following me! Like energies must attract one another. I have to say I really enjoyed this post! Isn’t it funny how we try so hard again and again to be what society deems as IDEAL? Many of our situations are never ideal. Many of us are never the ideal weight, ideal height, ideal hair, ideal skin, ideal ANYTHING! It sounds like once you stopped pleasing everyone else’s ideal, and started pleasing MEG, life fell into place! AMAZING! beautiful writing. can’t wait to keep up on your post as well. 😉

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