by Kristin Kuiper, MSW, LMSW
Even the title of this blog might make you feel uncomfortable. Maybe you know this is something you struggle with—always striving, trying to prove, reaching for that next rung in the ladder of your own or others goals and expectations for you. If you are someone who is prone to anxiety—whether it be due to your genetics, your personality type, or life circumstances—it can be even more of a struggle. The truth is, this quest is never achieved. No matter what the “medal” or “symbol of perfection” is in your life—the promotion, the approval or admiration of others, a full social calendar, seeing your child’s all A’s report card—the quest will still not be complete even when you obtain that desired “medal”. There will always be something more…to achieve.
When we focus so much on doing and so little on being who we are, the quest becomes even more elusive. We forget who we really are and adapt to what others want us to be. We neglect our own gifts, talents, and abilities. In this sense, this quest for perfection can actually destroy us and our relationships, fostering anxiety, depression, anger, feelings of guilt or even entitlement.
Focusing on growth and improvement is a much healthier barometer. So is focusing on process rather than outcome of our goals. Asking questions like, “what am I learning about myself in this process?” or “what might be the next step in becoming a healthier person?” are questions reflective of a person who is relaxing their quest for perfection. It is also helpful to share with someone you trust how you are struggling and how you might best receive support and accountability in letting go of some of the demands and standards you put on yourself.