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April 04, 2012

Women And The Quest For Perfection

IStock_0perfectlAs a human being, I am acutely aware that mistakes are a part of life.  I will make mistakes, my friends will make mistakes, my family members will make mistakes, the people who work for me will make mistakes and even my mentors will make mistakes.  This is an inevitable part of life.  As a women, parent, friend, wife, business owner, leader, mentor etc., you need to know that mistakes happen to the best of us…and no one is immune. 

It will serve you well when you can learn to accept this aspect of life rather than getting freaked out by it.

Too many women expect perfection.  Women across the board put an enormous amount of pressure on themselves and their loved ones to reach extremely high goals with few, if any, mistakes along the way.  When a mistake is made or an unrealistic goal isn’t met, women often begin to micro-manage others to ensure additional mistakes are not made.  They hover over their children doing their homework, re-load the dishwasher that was “improperly” loaded or simply take on everything in the house so they can do it “right”. Doing everything right or perfect, of course, is an impossible feat—given that we are all human--resulting in an overstressed mother, a resentful wife and a tense home environment.

In their quest for perfection, women may become harsher and more critical in response to mistakes.  Not surprisingly, this reaction creates more mistakes because children become disempowered, nervous and afraid of their mom’s reactions.  Ironically, the woman’s attempt to minimize mistakes simply makes them grow exponentially with each of her punitive responses.

In life it will serve not only you, but also those around you as well to learn to accept that we are each imperfect.  Imperfection is one of the inevitable aspects of our humanity.  There is nothing we can do to change this reality.  No matter how hard you, as a woman, try, your children try or your partner tries…mistakes will happen.  You will make mistakes and so will those around you. 

Know that mistakes are not the problem.  The problem is their aftermath -- people defending, rationalizing or passing off their mistakes onto someone else.  Mistakes are often your greatest learning opportunity.  Instead of shaming your children for making mistakes—teach them to learn from them. Instead of assuming your way to load the dishwasher is the only right way—try making room for the “right” way of others. 

Breathe.  Relax.  Let go.

Stop demanding perfection.  Perfection is an impossible feat for you, your family or any human being on this planet.  See mistakes as learning opportunities rather than proof of incompetency, laziness or stupidity.  If the same person is making the same mistakes again and again—then worry.  Until then, normalize mistakes, learn from them and allow those around you the space to be imperfect…even if mistakes will be made along the way.

Challenge: As a woman, look at the extraordinary demands you put on yourself and those around you.  Begin to loosen the reigns on both.  The next time you or a loved one makes a mistake…PAUSE…BREATHE…and refuse to shame.  Look at the gift in that mistake and learn from it.

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Dear Candy: Thank you for your honesty. Many women struggle with this issue and it ends up hurting their relationships. The best tip I can give you is to teach yourself to tune inward rather than outward. Too many women get anxious about something and then in order to relieve their anxiety (about the dishes, the house, their children etc.) they try to micro-manage the world and fix what's outside of them. Instead, the trick is to tune into your anxiety and look to reduce that. Control what's going on inside not outside. What's the anxiety about? What would happen if you just let the thing go? Breath into your anxiety and refuse to micro-manage everyone around you.

Good Luck!
Lisa

Reading this article , I knew I fit right in with what was being wrote, most women do want perfection, not only in themselves, but those around them, and when things are not done as she expects, it causes a lot of resentment. Sadly I know this but somehow I can not seem to overcome my need to do things over if not done how I feel it should be, which causes the resentment to invade my mind. I then become upset because I feel as the saying goes; If you want it done right do it yourself.. A woman sees the whole picture, men see a narrow picture, most do not see beyond that moment, not all men, but most, women see things that needs to be done better or different, which of course causes a problem. I admit I am usually my own worse enemy, things could always be better or done more quickly and have a hard time not understanding why my husband can't see what I see. Problem is I also have a hard time changing that.I know it really does not matter except to me, no one else cares if it gets done or not and that also agitates me.. Not sure how I can change my thoughts, I have tried to let things go, but in the end I can't rest until it is done the way I think it should be..

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