Happiness: Want to Be Happy? Stop Trying to Be Perfect
“Happiness is an inside job”. It is likely that you have heard or read these words before. Just what does this mean, what does it look like? Happiness radiates from the inside yet we don’t understand how to connect to this inner source because we are so distracted by the external world.
From the time we can talk, we are directed to create a self-identity that is built upon approval from the outside world and that depends upon performance. In other words, we are taught that what we DO is who we ARE. I’m here to tell you that this is the biggest illusion going.
As long as you tie your sense of “who you think you are” with what you do, you are on sinking sand. The outside world can shift from day to day, haven’t you noticed this yet? One month you are suppose to need some “thing” to be “enough”, next month you need to look like a certain photo shopped celebrity that you see on television or in a slick magazine ad.
If you do, then it is implied that you will be loved and secure. Of course, security, love and self-esteem are essential human needs. The only problem with having these emotional needs met is that we are conditioned to believe we lack them and that they can only be found outside of our self, hence many people buy into the illusion that if I am “perfect” in what I do or how I look, then I’ll be safe, loved and self-confident.
The catch is, “perfect” is totally subjective. Instead, what happens with perfectionism, which comes from a place of “lack” consciousness, is that it is a bottomless pit. You can never be perfect enough to be satisfied for more than 24 hours, and then you are off and running to jump the next hurdle. I know this one really well.
Imagine, as an eye surgeon, “perfection” felt like it was professional life or death, and it was very easy to buy into this paradigm hook, line and sinker. There is very little room for error when operating on someone’s eye. When I was a perfectionist, I was constantly in a state of feeling uptight and judgmental, both are happiness busters. When I was a perfectionist, I felt embarrassed and lacking in self-worth if I judged my outcomes to be less than perfect and by the way, it spilled over into every area of my life, not just in the operating room.
Life was hell on earth in many ways. No peace…. Then one day I came to see the difference between excellence and perfectionism.
Perfectionism is based on hiding behind a mask, hiding the dysfunctional belief that my sense of self is deficient, that “I” am not good enough or worthy. Once I began to separate my sense of self from what I did, and to deal with the “stories” that I had unwittingly wired into my brain around self-concept, I could see that “doing” and “being” were not the same.
I could then correct the misperceptions around identity and begin the journey of connecting with my then little known “authentic self” – who I really am. This makes space for compassion and releases the fear that somehow I was a fake and drop the over concern that what others thought of me really mattered. Just think about it, when you know who you are, and learn how to separate what you do from your identity, you can begin to free your preoccupation with externals and start to come from your passion, your heart.
When you do things from a place of self-expression, service and love, you naturally tend to do your best. The difference is, your expression comes from a place of self-acceptance and peace within. You do your best understanding that it does not define you; it is simply an expression of your talent. And, by the way, we cannot control or try to micromanage the universe and be happy. In fact, happiness, a side effect of joy and inner peace, flows best when you are flexible and adaptable.
When it has to be YOUR way, happiness will hit the highway and leave you high and dry. At the end of the day, do your best and let go, knowing experientially that you are already “ok”. Now, here’s something to become aware of. You have to stop looking for “how to’s” and start dealing with what you think and feel about yourself. Change is not about pulling out a bag of tricks of exercises “to do”.
If this worked, we would have a happiness epidemic as people are constantly in motion trying to do things to be happy. You will also have to start to deal with the misperception that you are separate from the universe and life and that you live in a hostile universe. This is simply one way to perceive life. How can you ever truly experience happiness if you believe life is competitive, out to get you and that you have to fight to receive love? As Einstein said:
“The most important decision that we make is whether we live in a friendly or hostile universe”
I tell you this is only a paradigm, yet our powerful brain and mind will help you to maintain this paradigm once you wire your subconscious mind with this belief. The only way out is self-awareness and when you know how to use the new brain research in a way that provokes insight, you can begin to separate your sense of identity from your thoughts and break the cycle of perfectionism that is driving you to self-destruct instead of keeping you safe and secure. You will also need to learn how to perceive and manage feelings differently. Perception is reality – think about it. What do you think about all of this? Would love to read your comments.