Be human, not perfect... This was the message that lingered in my mind long after our session with Bruce Kasanoff in one of Tasha Ten’s meetings. Bruce is a social media ghostwriter and a LI influencer who lives according to a philosophy of doing well by doing good. And his advice that resonated and I kept in my heart is a reflection of doing good to ourselves as a crucial key to doing well. There were numerous, mind-stretching topics discussed, but why did I ponder the one that simply disproved this unnecessary chase of perfectionism? Because I have a scar on my soul related to this matter.
As a daughter of a highly respected surgeon, I was raised in a family culture based off of perfectionism. I understood my father's reasons for his tendency to be foolproof after observing him perform one of his operations live. When you hold another human's flesh, blood, and life in both hands, you have no choice but to be flawless. It is a sacred responsibility that comes with a lot of concerns. This rightful habit of his was passed on to me in the form of anxiety, which is the pure outcome of perfectionism, because your focus is always the ideal future moment where you hit the bull's eye and match the unmatchable. I suffered from anxiety but mostly performance anxiety for years without knowing where it was rooted from until one day Lawrence Watson, my close friend and vocal instructor, pointed out that I have stage anxiety because I am a perfectionist. That was a breakthrough moment for me and the best feedback I received which settled the stones in my mind. My performance anxiety used to flare up mostly when I had extremely talented and acknowledged musicians among the audience. Since I saw them as excellent performers, I had to match that criteria with my performance, leading to uncontrollable sympathetic symptoms that my body was feeling, like thinking it was in danger and not letting me relax and perform in a natural state. A healthy amount of excitement and anxiety is always welcomed in the performing arts, but it is almost impossible when your body is set into a fight or flight response. Furthermore, we are currently bombarded by the ideal images of physical bodies, careers, achievements, and many other idealistic potentials, which surge our cravings to be members of a desired utopia. The thrill of the chase to be absolute feeds the unease that alienates us from the here and now, where the peace of mind exists.
After my Aha! moment built up on my self-awareness, I decided to take some action and to cherish being imperfect. Knowing your flaws and improving yourself differs from being your worst and most atrocious critic, as in being highly hostile towards yourself—which is the opposite of Bruce's philosophy; you do mental self-harm and don't be well at all. Thus, self-compassion is among the most beneficial remedies against it. Loving yourself with all of your current realities and giving permission just to be the way you are, has profound effects on the mind and soul. In the self-criticizing moments, giving a three-minute self-compassion break will neutralize the damage. (Perfectionism turns out to be a form of self-damage.)
As I mentioned earlier, focusing on the present moment and using mindfulness tools will help you combat against these self-crucifying moments. I have had numerous high achieving clients who suffer from not checking all the items of off their unrealistic self-expectations due to a massive gap between what they have in real life and their ideal scenarios. Focusing on the present moment is not just for meditation practices; it should be a continuous effort that helps us stay grounded and live in real-time. Moreover, according to research, psychological well-being is improved when people abandon their unrealistic goals.
Bruce offers that we make it far easier for people to relate to us and our insights when we share a genuine and open picture of ourselves. Though it may not be easy in practice, it is a clear way of living candidly. And additionally, the perspective of being genuine and true to ourselves about our reality, current conditions, and still keeping up with the commitment to our growth in a healthy way will turn our life into a beautiful experience.