By Paula Bianchi –
This has always been a difficult mind game for me. Most of my life has been spent trying to make things perfect. Every project I’m involved with like: crocheting, sewing, crafting, writing, remodeling or decorating our house. To the mundane stuff like: how to fold and put away the laundry, how to do the dishes and put them away, all had to be done as I deemed ‘perfect’. (Which is really just ‘my way’.)
I’ve lost count of how many crocheting projects I’ve done where, if I found a mistake 5, 20, or 100 rows back, I would pull out every row to fix my mistake and do them all over again. I would do the same thing with sewing or whatever crafty thing I wanted to do. There were so many times my husband would say, “You can’t even see that mistake”, but I knew it was there, and it would drive me crazy.
My perfectionism went even further making me feel like I had the perfect way to do anything, like the dishes for example, I thought I knew the right way to fill the dishwasher, and the right way they should be put away. I wanted the laundry folded and put away in a certain manner, so I wouldn’t let anyone else do it.
My wanting to have everything a certain way, or in a certain place, was to my detriment and a disservice to my kids. I cleaned their rooms and made their beds until they were almost teenagers. Sure, they had to clean up their toys, but I would always go back after they were done, and make them look neater or more ‘perfect’. My kids may have even manipulated me into doing something they didn’t feel like doing by doing it wrong.
After my kids took over how they wanted to keep their rooms, it was killing me inside when I saw how messy they were. (Which looking back on, was just clothes all over the floor.) I gave up on the battle by just closing their bedroom doors, so I couldn’t see the rooms I used to make perfect.
Even walking into my therapist’s office and seeing one of her couch cushions misplaced, sets me on edge. I won’t go over and fix it, but I really want to. I even told her, one day, that the couch cushion was bothering me, and I wanted to fix it, but I wouldn’t. She just smiled at me and said, “That’s good.”
All I taught my kids and my husband was, I would do everything myself. At the time I didn’t realize, I was setting myself up for a life where nobody would want to help me because I had to have it done a certain way. The best thing anyone could ever say to me was, “That looks perfect.” I was my own worst enemy.
The reality is we all want what we think is perfect to us, and every person has their own standard of what perfect is like for them. Each of us is on our own quest for our perfect. Some people fixate on their bodies and spend their lives trying to obtain their ‘perfect’ vision of it. People may look to their careers trying to reach, what they perceive as, their ‘perfect’ place in it. Others are looking for the ‘perfect’ things that they feel they need to complete their lives.
We can go through life with blinders on when we only focus on what’s perfect, but it’s hard not to when society, throughout history, has highlighted everything that is perfect and put on display, labeling it as the standard for all to follow. Some may agree with this standard and will do their best to emulate it, but others may not agree, and they set their own standards. What’s perfect is in the eye of the beholder. If someone else doesn’t see what you see as perfect, that’s fine, but they shouldn’t berate you or make you feel shame in what your perfect is because perfect is what makes you happy.
When we just click with someone effortlessly, we call it the perfect match or the perfect couple. We walk out of a hair salon with the perfect haircut. We leave the mall with the perfect outfit. The realtor found us the perfect house. We drive out of the dealership with the perfect car. We come home and post pictures of our perfect vacation.
Now let’s move a bit forward in time to, the perfect couple is breaking up. The first time we wash and style our perfect haircut, we notice the spots that she missed, or it’s not even with the other side. Our perfect outfit shrinks in the laundry and doesn’t fit anymore. The plumbing in our perfect house bursts leaving us stuck with a hefty bill. Our perfect car breaks down a month after we bought it. Someone stole our credit card number from the hotel we stayed at on our perfect vacation. Look at how fleeting the state of ‘perfect’ is.
After this realization hit, I started changing how I perceived my perfect. I stopped doing the dishes and the laundry one day, and guess what, they piled up, but I only had myself to blame. That’s the reality I put into place all those years ago. My family noticed I wasn’t picking up after them anymore and started to pitch in to keep things clean. I had to fight the urge to rearrange the dishes in the cupboard and the towels in the linen closet. I fought my frustration when I couldn’t find what I was looking for because it wasn’t where I would’ve put it. I fought my compulsion to fix things or make them look more ‘perfect’.
At first, it was so hard to do, and there were, and still are, times when I’m truly tested. I’ll feel like I’ve got it under control, until, I see a lady with her shirt tag hanging out and all I want to do is tuck it in. When that happens to me, I think of what the doctor said when I told her I wouldn’t fix her couch cushion. “That’s good.”
Come back to read my next mind games article about greed. Click like and share me with your friends. Thanks for the visit. Bye for now.
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