August 10th Hazelden Thought for the Day
Letting Go of Perfection
As I journey through recovery, more and more I learn that accepting myself and my idiosyncrasies — laughing at myself for my ways — gets me a lot further than picking on myself and trying to make myself perfect. Maybe that’s really what it’s all about — absolute loving, joyous, nurturing self-acceptance.
Stop expecting perfection from yourself and those around you.
We do a terrible, annoying thing to others and ourselves when we expect perfection. We set up a situation where others, including ourselves, do not feel comfortable with us. Sometimes, expecting perfection makes people so uptight that they and we make more mistakes than normal because we are so nervous and focused on mistakes.
That does not mean we allow inappropriate behaviors with the excuse “nobody’s perfect.” That doesn’t mean we don’t have boundaries and reasonable expectations of people and ourselves.
But our expectations need to be reasonable. Expecting perfection is not reasonable.
People make mistakes. The less anxious, intimidated, and repressed they are by expectations of being perfect, the better they will do.
Striving for excellence, purity in creativity, a harmonious performance, and the best we have to offer does not happen in the stymied, negative, fear-producing atmosphere of expecting perfection.
Have and set boundaries. Have reasonable expectations. Strive to do your best. Encourage others to do the same. But know that others and we will make mistakes. Know that others and we will have learning experiences, things we go through.
Sometimes, the flaws and imperfections in ourselves determine our uniqueness, the way they do in a piece of art. Relish them. Laugh at them. Embrace them, and ourselves.
Encourage others and ourselves to do the best we can. Love and nurture others and ourselves for being who we are. Then realize we are not merely human – we were intended and created to be human.
Today, God, help me let go of my need to be perfect and to unreasonably insist that others are perfect. I will not use this to tolerate abuse or mistreatment, but to achieve appropriate, balanced expectations. I am creating a healthy atmosphere of love, acceptance, and nurturing around and within me. I trust that this attitude will bring out the best in other people and in me.
From The Language of Letting Go by Melody Beattie ©1990, Hazelden Foundation. All rights reserved