How many of you parents out there feel a deep-seated need to be perfect? I think we all do in one way or another in many different respects, but especially when it comes to parenting. I remember hearing a voice inside me say “I don’t want to screw up my children.”
Wanting to be perfect is such a painful belief to live from because when something happens where we fall short or miss the mark in the moment, there is this automatic condemnation of ourselves.
A good question to ask ourselves might be “Who or what convinced us that there was a need to be perfect in the first place?”
Some of us might answer that question with “my parents” or “society”, and that is certainly true to one extent. However, let’s take a deeper look to see what we might find.
I speak often on this blog about these old, borrowed beliefs that have been handed down without question. Is the need for perfection one of these hand-me-down beliefs?
In my welcome blog, I shared a story about a daughter who, as an adult, was cooking a meal for her mother. It was her mother’s favorite – pot roast. As the daughter was preparing the meal, she cut off a huge slab of meat from each end of the roast and threw those ends away.
Her mother asked her why she wasted all that meat, to which the daughter replied “That is what you used to do.” The mother then responded “Honey, I had a small roasting pan and most roasts were too large to fit into it, so I had to cut the ends off to make the roast fit.”
The daughter had never questioned that very action. She only knew to copy it without question. Isn’t that quite astonishing? It should be.
That very same thing is true across the board for most of the things in our life, including this idea that we need to be perfect.
A ballerina who has mastered the art of ballet, practiced for countless hours and made countless mistakes. That mastered ballerina didn’t listen or agree to those old, borrowed hand-me down parts that came up inside her in those trying moments when the going was tough.
That ballerina sacrificed those parts and continued practicing for the love of ballet. She learned about herself through that persistence. For every sacrifice she made, she was given something new.
In continuing to persist through those moments by sacrificing parts of herself that wanted to quit when she was struggling, that ballerina was able to learn to perfectly instrument the principle of ballet, of dance. She was given that in return for her sacrifices.
She herself couldn’t become perfect, and any belief that we can or need to, will inevitably always fall short and create a negative response when we miss the mark. A cycle of pain and negativity.
That ballerina agreed to continue to learn about herself moment to moment and through that persistence and love of dance, she was able to learn to be that living instrument of perfection. Perfection was able to flow through her because she was an open and willing vessel. She didn’t become perfect. There is a very distinct difference in that, because only Love is perfect.
One of the best things we can teach our children is to toss the old idea of perfection out the window. We need to make mistakes. Mistakes are an essential part of learning.
Imagine what your child can do in life knowing that through true effort and persistence and a wish to know themselves through anything they choose to do, that nothing can stop them, especially with the understanding that they were never intended to be perfect.
Do you think they would be more willing to try new things? I know I certainly would have.
Any true wish to want to learn about what hold’s us back in this life can’t help but be fulfilled if we persist in that wish to be the instrument through which perfection can be made manifest through us.
We then see any form of self-condemnation as being what it is, not only a total waste of energy, but a useless old part of ourselves that holds us back. We then understand the value of directing our attention and strength in wanting self-understanding, because self-understanding is always in favor of itself.
Exercise for the week: Age dependent, ask your child if they can catch a voice inside them trying to condemn them for making a mistake, whether it be after something they said, or homework they forgot, etc.