Letting Go of Perfection

My client was getting rid of clutter, but chided herself for not letting it go fast enough. She sounded deeply sad when she said, “I feel like I should be doing more.”

I said that she was mistaken. The clutter she was letting go of was enough. She was doing what she could. And with each piece that went, she was removing something that was keeping her from enjoying her life.

I said what wasn’t serving her was needing to be perfect.

The desire to be perfect is a strong force. It influences us all in different ways. A lot of times, we don’t even realize we are being fueled by the need to be perfect in a particular area of our lives.

This need for perfection can run us ragged because underneath is the feeling that something is wrong with us.  We need to accomplish a particular thing in a certain way or we think we will be lacking. And not only will we be aware of this, but others will see we are not enough too.

For years I was fueled by the ideal of being more social. I would go to parties, or dinner get-togethers, and tell myself that I would talk to people and enjoy myself. But since I was a kid, I’ve felt out of place and withdrawn at gatherings. I would try and talk to people, but it was a strain. I was uncomfortable.  Afterwards, I would be exhausted.

I’m a private person and I’m happy by myself, or with one or two close friends. But still I wanted to be other than what I was.

Recently I went to a dinner party of about twenty people. A half hour into it, I was so uncomfortable, I asked the host if I could go downstairs and play the guitar that I had spied coming into their house. She said yes.

I went downstairs and played guitar. I was in peace. It was just the songs and me. A few minutes into it, an older woman came out of a room and passed me. She gave me a knowing smile and went into another room. I was intrigued.

Later I went upstairs and asked the host who the older lady was. She said it was her mother. Her mother was an introvert and kept to herself. She said parties were torture for her. So she was happy to let her mother do what she wanted.

I realized I could do the same for myself. I didn’t need to be perfect amymore. I felt the heavy clutter of the perfection fall away. I was happy being myself.