The Demand that We Be Perfect

If you watch your thoughts, you might see that in the background there is an absolute DEMAND that you be perfect. This perfection might look different from person to person, so let me give some examples.

The house must be a certain way, your body must look the way you want it to look, you have to eat only certain foods, you must treat others in a particular way. You have to be kind and only supportive of your children, partner and family members. You must sleep, exercise, work, drive, celebrate the holidays, all in accordance with some law which can never be spoken, but must be followed to the letter. Does this sound familiar?

Now pay attention to the resistance you have to the particular place in your life where you feel you cannot possibly live up to the law. This is where, no matter how hard you try, you will fail.

It is impossible to be perfect. We all know this logically, rationally. Notice how you are thinking right now “well, of course!”  But, on a very deep level, the demand lives and dictates our behavior.


 We hold our imperfections against ourselves. Or, we blame the other, life, our bosses, parents, our circumstances, for our failures.

We believe we, or it, should be some other way than what just is. We make life wrong and hold this against ourselves because we know this whole process defies logic.

Sometimes, actually often, we preempt our disappointment with this lack of perfection by being miserable, annoyed, angry, irritated. We look for reasons to prove we have a right to be upset, and they are always easily found. This side-steps our responsibility in the matter.

We point to “reality” as proof that the way we are being is not our fault. And around and around we go.

There is a way out.

Life is difficult. Suffering is discomfort multiplied by resistance. Perfection lies in our ability to be with imperfection.

Watch your thoughts. Watch your deep emotional reaction to everyday occurrences. Feel where it is that you resist what is happening. Notice how you hold yourself against yourself and demand that you, or life, be some other way.

In just noticing this internal war, it loses its power. Just by being aware of the lies we tell ourselves, the truth can emerge. This truth can set you free of your internal dictator.

By allowing what is,  without the demand that it be another way, we develop the strength to change what we can and the wisdom to trust life to teach us what it is we are here to learn.

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