The last time giving a talk, or holding a party, or hosting an event, or even simply having friends over for dinner. Noticing one person in the room who looked disapproving, feeling you somehow failed because you didn’t gain that person’s approval – or possibly interest – even if everyone else loved it.
Those days you feel a failure because you can’t 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 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 that perceived dislike has nothing 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.
If what you are trying to perfect isn’t giving you joy, then it’s an addiction – the addiction of imperfectibility, as defined by Seth Godin. 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.
If you like this blog, you’ll also like my newsletters. It’s written only for my insiders who sign up, and provides weekly insights, not only from me, but from others I admire.
Looking forward to welcoming you to my growing list of insiders!
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 .