So many people these days are obsessed with the idea of being perfect. After all, society tells us we have to strive for perfection; buy that makeup, wear those clothes, sport the latest and greatest everything. Plastic surgeons aren’t experiencing a shortage in patients, nor are cosmetic companies experiencing a shortage in consumers. Everyone has this idea in their head of what perfection is, and no matter how hard they try they will never reach it. It’s the proverbial carrot dangling in front of the horse: always just out of reach.
⇒ A Psychological Ideology
The truth is, perfection is a relative concept and there is no single definition or set of prerequisites to be considered as such. The only universally perceived requirement for perfection is an absence of flaws, by society standards. No stretch marks. No wrinkles. No cellulite. For the price of $999.99 and your dignity, you too could have a perfect ________!
Stop. Just… stop. In the same manner that that horse will never reach that carrot, you will never be perfect. Perfect doesn’t exist. Why not? Because society’s perception of perfection is constantly in flux. People are constantly shaping and reshaping their opinions of what perfect actually is to them, based on several different factors: outside influences, personal tastes, culture, upbringing, etc. There will never be one true definition of perfection as we see it (or don’t see it) – so how can a person strive to epitomize something that is undefined? They can’t.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word perfect as “corresponding to an ideal standard or abstract concept.” An ideal is something “existing as a mental image or in fancy or imagination only.” M-W defines the word abstract as “disassociated from any specific instance,” “difficult to understand,” and “insufficiently factual.” And a concept is something “conceived in the mind.” Therefore cumulatively, by definition, perfect is something that is strictly conceived by the imagination with no association to any specific attributes. When elaborating upon usage of the word, Dictionary.com describes perfect as “an absolute, yes-or-no condition that cannot logically be said to exist in varying degrees.”
⇒ On Bullying & Perfection
So by dictionary standards, perfect has no real definitive definition, so how the hell do we expect to become something that doesn’t technically exist? If we can’t even embody it ourselves, how can we expect anyone else to live up to standards that have no basis in fact?
When someone judges, belittles, or bullies another, there is a multitude of underlying factors involved, there is no doubt about that. Basic psychology suggests that the problem is with the inflictor, not the inflicted. One could then conclude, based on the previously stated information, that the aggressor’s judgement is based on his or her own mental picture of what “perfect” is – to them, and them alone. So just because the individual(s) being judged don’t live up to that person’s standards, that doesn’t mean that the judgements being made have any validity outside that person’s own imagination.
In short? When one is judging or bullying someone because they “aren’t ________ enough,” nothing they say matters. One cannot be responsible for adhering to a set of ideologies conceived and put in place by the imaginations of everyone else. What is perfect in the eyes of one person can be absolute rubbish in the eyes of another. The only set of standards or qualities one should care about living up to are one’s own. Period.
⇒ Practice Makes Progress
The famous cliché states that “practice makes perfect.” However, based on the above discussed information, “perfect” is unattainable; no amount of practice in any capacity will ever make anything perfect.
Having realistic goals, and setting them lower on the ladder to start, is an important aspect to self-improvement. If one sets their goals ridiculously high to where the end result is [perceived as] almost unattainable, the more likely it is that disappointment and demotivation will result, and ultimately lead to giving up entirely. The best way to go about reaching one’s goals is to set the bar progressively higher along the way; create “checkpoints” or “levels” to be reached gradually leading up to the end objective. For example, having a goal of becoming a millionaire within the next year is a bit impractical. However, setting milestone goals along a timeline – i.e. something like “increase annual income by 10% every year for the next 5 years” – are much more realistic and more likely to yield attainable results.
Create the potential for small victories, and the rest will follow in suit. The positive feelings derived from a series of small victories over time have a much healthier psychological effect, compared to enduring the stress and pressure that comes along with trying to achieve a much more difficult goal in the same – or longer – amount of time. The “small victories” along the way will help ensure one stays motivated enough to reach the final objective.
⇒ The Endgame
In essence, perfect is just a pipe-dream within the mind of each individual. It is perfectly okay to strive for one’s own particular idea of perfect, as long as that striving isn’t in vain and doesn’t entail unnecessary stress and negative psychological consequences. Be realistic about what the endgame looks like, and make sure each rung on the ladder is reachable on the way up. Stay positive, stay motivated, and stay optimistic. And remember: nobody is perfect.
A portion of the introductory paragraphs are an excerpt from my original article:
5 Major Things Being a Martial Artist Has Taught Me About Life.
Related Links & Sources:
- The Problem With Perfection – Psychology Today
- The Psychology of Narcissism – TED.Ed
- How to Stop Stressing About Being Perfect – Tiny Buddha Blog
- 4 Tips for Setting Powerful Goals – Success.com
- “Pretty. Near. Perfect.” – photo by Rebecca Matthews via Unsplash
- Merriam-Webster Dictionary
What is your idea of “perfect” – has that idea changed (now or ever)? What are some of your goals, and has your view or strategy of reaching them changed after reading this? Do you have questions or opinions to share? I would love to hear from you! Feel free to comment below or send me a private message.