I read a recent blog from Seth Godin where he discussed what he calls the modern addiction of perfectibility, or for short, imperfectibility.
What’s imperfectibility? You might feel, deep down, that you can somehow make everyone happy. That you can silence every critic, delight every customer, and interest every person you approach. Then when the inevitable happens, when someone misunderstands you, or has the wrong impression of you and simply won’t give you a chance, you – like me – take that on as something you failed to catch. That it’s somehow on you, and that you have the power to change it and get that person to like you.
The truth is you can’t, because it doesn’t have anything to do with you. People have their reasons for feeling dissatisfied, or disliking something or someone. The reasons are mostly emotional and personal, and if it’s directed at you, that likely means you were in their line of sight at the time.
A sensitive man just got yelled at by his mother; then you come along, strangely like his mother in some indefinable way, and he finds a reason to dislike you. A woman you’re slightly acquainted with is regualarly bullied by her boss, and takes it out on the first person she can. You, as it happens. Or, what you have to offer simply doesn’t interest the person you want to interest, and never will.
Whoever you are and whatever you have to offer, it simply can’t interest and delight everyone. And the point that Mr. Godin is making is that if what you are trying to perfect isn’t giving you joy, then it’s an addiction. And like every addiction, no matter how much you do it, it will never satisfy you.
So what’s the antidote? Re-focus.
Re-focus on what you truly like to do. If that happens to be striving for perfection for its own sake, great! But if that striving is about trying to gain approval from someone who you aren’t likely to get it from, stop! Walk away. And focus on something important to your sense of joy. On something that feeds your soul.
And don’t worry about that other person. They have their own journey.
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Maryanne Nicholls is a Registered Psychotherapist. To find out more, gain access to her weekly newsletter, meditations and programmes, sign up at www.thejoyofliving.co .