Many of us are Perfectionists

Many of us are Perfectionists

By Desmond Yeoh SC

Ceramic Products Manufacturer in Malaysia

Ceramic Products

A friend complained to me that he had so much work that he does not have time with his family and this resulted in frequent arguments with his wife.

A few weeks later, he complained to me again but this time, the problem was different. Due to a restructuring in his organisation, his scope of work was significantly reduced. He was unhappy about it because he saw this as a reduction of his power and influence within the organisation. However, because his responsibility was reduced, he now has more time with his family. Unfortunately, he was unable to see this blessing and he continued to torment himself with the perceived reduction of his power at his office.

We all have this problem. We expect things to be perfect and whenever something goes wrong, our mind gets drawn to the problem like bees to honey. There may be hundreds of things that are going right but as long as there is a problem in our life, our mind will be focus on the dark patch and we will ignore the positive events in our life. In short, we are perfectionist!

We know that it is impossible for everything to turn out as expected all the time. However, we are not able to accept imperfection as a part of life and as a result, we create unnecessary suffering for ourselves. As an example; if we have a stomach ache, the physical pain is a suffering we will need to endure. However, in addition to the pain, we may be angry at ourselves for eating the wrong food or we may feel sorry for ourselves for not being able to do the things we could be doing and so on. The additional mental suffering is something which we add on to the physical pain to intensify our suffering. The mental suffering is really unnecessary.

We expect to be feeling happy and joyful all the time and we cannot tolerate any other emotions; even a simple emotion such as boredom. We go to extreme lengths to run away from negative emotions. Some people are afraid of being alone with nothing to do because they will have to ‘feel’ the negative emotions. So, they fill their days with distractions after distractions and at the end of the day, they only gain stress and exhaustion.

If we allow ourselves to really feel those negative emotions without trying to get rid of them or judge them as something negative, we will find that they are really not that bad. They are even less painful then a pinch. Everything goes in a cycle. Everything that goes up must come down. It is not unusual to feel down sometimes. If a person feels happy all the time, then he is probably psychotic; living in a fantasy world that is far from reality. Accepting this truth can free us from a lot of unnecessary mental suffering.

Another unnecessary cause of suffering is the expectation of perfection from oneself. Whenever we make mistakes, we scold ourselves severely. We say things to ourselves that we would not say to others. We can hurt ourselves badly because we know which sensitive buttons to push.

A friend told me that she felt hopeless because she kept making mistakes. I advised her not to make a big deal of her mistakes. Berating herself for the mistakes is an example of unnecessary mental suffering which she inflicts on herself. I shared with her that whenever I observe that I am getting angry at myself, I just say to myself, “I forgive you”; and I sincerely forgive myself. I would forgive a kind friend for making the same mistake so, why can’t I forgive myself?

A quick way of removing suffering from our life is to accept the imperfections of the world we live in and allowing ourselves to be less than perfect. In fact, when I look back at my problems, I find that they are actually blessings. If we accept suffering as a part of life, we begin to see them as an opportunity to develop wisdom and for making changes in our life. Problems may cause some discomfort in the short term but may end up bringing enormous rewards in the long run.

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