Quote of the day: PERFECTIONISM

February 2, 2011


We know we are not integrating the full spectrum of our feelings when we keep reducing them all to a single judgment. For example, “I am emotionally stuck,” may also mean: “I am depressed and grieving and self-pitying and refusing to self-activate.” Or “I am a loving father” may need to be expanded to “I am a loving father in many ways and there are also times when I am controlling and put my own expectations ahead of my children’s needs.”

Noticing when we disregard the full spectrum of our feelings and behavior and then acknowledging our missing predicates may enrich our sense of our own depth! “From now on, every time I judge myself (or others), I will use the technique of adding four more adjectives that are also somehow true!”

Acknowledge openly to others that sometimes you succeed and sometimes you fail; sometimes you come through for them and sometimes you let them down. You offer to come through for someone just one more time than you let someone down. You offer not perfection but commitment to make amends for failures, to make restitution for losses. This is a flexible (and therefore adult) presentation of your self. It preserves you from the expectation by others that you can be counted on absolutely, or the verdict of others that you be discounted absolutely. “To live is to change and to be perfect is to have changed often,” as Cardinal Newman so wisely remarked. It would be a great violation of humanness to be rigidly perfect in conduct. The repressive vigilance such white-knuckling requires does not signify an achievement but a self-defacement.

— David Richo, How to Be an Adult

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