Trying to perfect a skill/ Good. Trying to be perfect? Bad.
One of the ongoing arguments against the possibility of a perfect and powerful God, is how imperfect His/Her creation seems to be. When searching for my path, to understanding the world and my place in it, I often wondered about the fact that humans were made in God’s image and were clearly far from perfect. Did that mean God was also imperfect?
Possible, but equally possible, perhaps humans and the world were purposely created imperfect. Why would that be?
As the poet Robert Browning noted in his poem Andre Del Sarto, “Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, Or what’s a heaven for?”
However, our knowledge of who or what is the source of creation remains imperfect. Remember faith is hope about what cannot be proven.
What to do? The following Emotional Fitness tips grew out of how I found what works for me. If they work for you, fantastic. If not that is just as good as long as you can let me and others find our way to a life that focuses on acting with kindness to all. Kindness is really all that matters.
Tip one: Consciously practice imperfection. Think good enough, when obsessed with getting anything a bit more perfect. Use “Good enough” as a mantra.
Tip two: Rate how near enough is good enough. Here’s the Rating Scale poster.
Tip three: Improve your ability to see when perfectionism is playing a part in your life. Challenge delusions of perfection on the media and in real life. Look for twisted thinking in all media. Look for people seeking perfection and say gently, “Good enough seem best in this situation” or something to that effect.
Tip four: Continue to pursue the being the best you can be. We need goals and ideals are part of setting a goal. However, all goals must be based on a realistic picture of your abilities. If you sing off tune, you will not become the next Voice or American Idol. Remember to use SMART Goals to increase the odds you will get where you want to go.
Tip five: Focus on your life’s mission rather than the everyday goals that might not matter in the long run. Think about buying my ebook How to Know Your Mission So You Can Reach Your Goals. If everyone saw their mission as being kind to all living creatures, we might create “Peace on Earth” or at least a “Good enough life” form most.
Delusions of perfection are particularly painful because it taps into childhood’s reservoir of shame. According to Jerome Kagan, human development specialist, children struggle with shame as they enter the threes. That is when children realize while powerless over some things, they are quite capable of doing the unthinkable over younger or weaker beings.
For a three-year old the unthinkable is the desire to do away with the people who keep you from doing what you want. The only ones you have power over at that age are younger siblings and small animals. Kagan points out a strong counter emotion is needed to keep from acting on violent impulses which is why shame emerges at this particular age and stage.
Also at that age any failure to do something perfectly creates shame, not being good enough. Shame is all about having to be perfect and fearing other people’s response when you are imperfect.
First parenting tip: Say “Good try” twice as often as you say “Try harder.”
Second parenting tip: If you child is engaged in competitive sports, counter The Winning is Everything” mentality with “Having fun is winning even when you lose.”
Third parenting tip: Teach rating scales early on.
Fourth parenting tip: With those moving into the changing thoughts of adolescence engage in conversations about what matters, sweating the small stuff.
Fifth parenting tip: Children of all ages can be caught up in perfectionism. Be alert to the possibility a child perfectionism is leading to the mental health disorder called OCD. Here is a handout, I used when teaching a Challenging Children Course.
THANK YOU FOR ALL YOU DO
Remember sharing is caring and the easiest way to practice kindness is to share this post if you found it helpful. Share it even if it doesn’t speak to you, it will speak to some. Didn’t like it? Comment and tell me why and how to improve.
Post Relatedness to this Word Press Daily Post Prompt: Press It: Give some love to three blog posts you’ve read and loved in the past week, and tell us why they’re worth reading.
Well, if I were perfect, I’d stop right now and do as the prompt suggests. Instead I will follow my own advice and practice some imperfection.
LINKS OF INTEREST
- Pursue Progress, No Perfection (thecoughlincompany.com)
- Easy EFitnessExercises (www.emotionalfitnesstraining.com)
- The five components of Emotional Intelligence (www.sonoma.edu)
- Emotional Intelligence (en.wikipedia.org)
- Emotional Fitness Tips for Parents (parentsarepeopletoo.com)
An Emotional Fitness Program for Parents(amazon.com)