How I failed the exam of perfectionism

Before I got into the story of personal development, I spent days and days in my head, burdened with guilt over certain wrong sentences I said in conversation that I didn’t need to say, or in annoyance at why I didn’t say something that sounded cooler, more meaningful and smarter to turn out to be a smarter person with a more fun joke.

Guilt was constantly accompanied by a feeling of dissatisfaction because I could not come up with an ideally created image of me as a smart, successful, and perfect version that I created in my own head.

From personal development to an obsession with the perfect picture

As I slowly became acquainted with various practices in the field of personal development, I managed to become aware of unpleasant emotions, stop myself from negative thoughts, and in a way live more freely in my own skin.

On the other hand, the more I became acquainted with the topics of mental health and personal development, the more I realized the things in myself that I needed to “fix”. The unexplained relationships I was supposed to work on, negative beliefs, childhood trauma, useless defense mechanisms, and the list grew bigger and bigger from year to year.

All this is in the service of “working on yourself”.

It was like that because there is so much that needs to be changed, corrected, refined, and repaired in order to live a “more authentic” and more profound life.

Over time, working on yourself has become a new obsession, endlessly digging into your own soul in search of things that should be better, more beautiful, more perfect, cleaner, nobler, and more perfect. As if that perfection could ever be reached at all. Over time, I became more and more tired. As soon as I somehow mastered one thing, a new, new topic appeared that needed to be addressed. A new wound that needed to be “healed”.

Until the moment when, by coincidence, I got the opportunity to participate in the training of self-compassion for the second time, now from a completely different life perspective than when I was a participant for the first time.

On the road to humanity.

There is a component of common humanity in self-compassion, that is, it means that what makes us human, our flaws and imperfections are exactly what connects us to people and that if we allow ourselves to simply be what we are, people, then we can allow ourselves to be imperfect.

This was allowed to all but one person. Each person could show weakness except one. An understanding could be found for everyone’s defect or flaw, except for the flaws of one person. Every person could be a human being and make a mistake and be forgiven precisely because he is a human being, and one person was not allowed to do that.

One person had to be perfect.

One person then was not really allowed to be human.

That person was me.

I had an understanding of everyone’s weakness, except for my own. And the person who was denied the right to common humanity was me. What does it mean then – that I equated myself with God, with some infallible and perfect figure?

On the one hand, it was so cruel, and on the other, so narcissistic. I was neither perfect nor was I God.

Practicing self-compassion forced me to look at myself as a person, a person who is not and cannot be perfect. Far from being lazy and relieved of my own mistakes, no, on the contrary, it reminded me of the value of myself as a human being, as a human being who learns and grows from falls, defeats, and life’s misfortunes and my own imperfections. Perceiving my own weakness helps me to connect with the weaknesses of others and then together we look for a way to be better people towards ourselves and towards others.

Every day I learn how to give space to myself to be imperfect and to give myself strength and support even when some other voice in me thinks I don’t deserve it, and I deserve it because I am a person who sins, and falls over and over again, but already tomorrow I rise and begin my battle and journey from scratch.

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