Thursday, January 3, 2013


So...I've got another movie commentary post. holiday season = movie season. And art, music, relationships, or books, can be great ways for us to become more conscoius of aspects of ourselves. *NOTE: This post gives away some of the plot from Silver Linings Playbook, so if you're planning to see it, you may not want to read this post.

I've been thinking about the idea of perfectionism for awhile now. I've been watching the ways it plays out in my own life, and affects my relationships. I went and saw "Silver Linings Playbook," and while I enjoyed the movie on many levels, I also felt some inner conflict with the "craziness" the main characters displayed. (craziness to me in this situation meant: seemingly illogical, emotional reactions). While the examples in the movie may have been "extreme," as I was watching I noticed my own judgments of their craziness (in terms of it being problematic to their relationships), as well as a fear of my own potential craziness (in terms of it causing problems in my relationships).

While, I don't think it would benefit me to attempt acting more emotionally crazy just to add drama or excitement to life, or to my relationships, I do think it would benefit me to be honest with the crazy that is in there. As I'm writing I'm noticing that what really scares me are my emotions in the context of relationships. For most of my life I feel like I have either buried them, or used them manipulatively. There have been some shining moments...and I'm practicing being vulnerable, but I think where it's still especially hard to be vulnerable is being ok that I don't always understand my own emotions right away (or maybe ever), and until I do I look like a "crazy person." I think if I could really see the whole picture of all I've been through (and my emotional genes), even my "crazy" emotional reactions would make sense.

Trusting this may give me greater ability to not repress my feelings in the moment. Not that I'll have to stay stuck in anger, fear, frustration, etc., but that in that moment, if that's what I feel, to pretend otherwise dishonors me.

What really struck me was at the end there was acceptance and understanding. He said to her (paraphrasing), "you acted crazy, but you were only meeting my own craziness." It was ok because he understood. I noticed a deep fear that if I'm crazy it will never be understood.

I honor my own fear of my's real for me, and I don't know how much acceptance I'll be able to recover in this life, but I'm going to keep working on it...because it frees me to be honest.

I don't believe that only religious people deal with this idea of needing to be perfect (or that all religious people feel it), but I do know that for me, MY religious perspectives, for pretty much my whole life, kept the dysfunctional ideas of perfectionism alive.

Teacher/speaker, Osho, who in his own right says some crazy things :) said,

"You are being taught from the very beginning to be a perfectionist, and then naturally you go on applying your perfectionist ideas to everything, even to love.

Just the other day I came across a statement: 'A perfectionist is a person who takes great pains, and gives even greater pains to others.' And the outcome is just a miserable world!

Everybody is trying to be perfect. And the moment somebody starts trying to be perfect, he starts expecting everybody else to be perfect. He starts condemning people, he starts humiliating people.

Because you cannot be perfect, you start feeling guilty, you lose respect for yourself. And the man who has lost respect for himself has lost all the dignity of being human. Your pride has been crushed, your humanity has been destroyed by beautiful words like perfection.

Man cannot BE perfect. Yes, there is something that man can EXPERIENCE, but which is beyond the ordinary conception of man. Unless man also experiences something of the divine, he cannot know perfection.

Perfection is not something like a discipline; it is not something that you can practice. It is not something for which you have to go through rehearsals. But that is what is being taught to everybody, and the result is a world full of hypocrites, who know perfectly well that they are hollow and empty."


If Divine perfection (in any form) does exist, which I sense it does, it's not afraid of humanness, mistakes, imperfection, or anything else. It's not afraid of us "messing up" or "ruining" relationships, screwing up our jobs, hurting others or ourselves. It's not afraid of inadequacy, selfishness, darkness, ignorance, and destruction. How could it be? It understands all of these things perfectly. It can hold the dark as well as the's's whole, not dual.


INTRO: I went out with a darling man and ended up lying to him. Didn't mean to lie, at first I thought I was being honest. We'd walked into a place to hear some music...and immediately I felt disconnected from the ambience, and a longing to leave and continue our conversation which I'd been so enjoying. When I found out I needed my ID I went out to the car to get it. When I couldn't find my wallet in my purse I was kind of relieved, and mentioned to him as he stood by that I must have left my wallet by the computer earlier that day when I was paying bills online. Just as I was getting ready to zip my purse up I saw my wallet. Rather than letting him know I'd just found it, I let my story stand. I was working on a particular practice that week of honesty. I knew that yes, I'd not been honest about the wallet, but even prior, I hadn't been honest about not wanting to stay and hear the music. Why was I so afraid of sharing my opinion? If I would have at least had the courage to share my opinion, I don't think I would have minded if he'd felt different. From that place I could choose to stay and listen to music because I knew he was enjoying it, and probably enjoy it more myself, knowing that at least I'd been honest, and I knew it was what he really wanted. Rather than sitting there thinking, "I wonder if he even really wants to be here? Maybe we're both sitting here because we're too afraid to be honest with each other."

So...anyways, the next time we went out I decided I was going to fess up to both breaches of honesty. It made for me feeling super vulnerable throughout the date, and then at the end of the evening, I attempted to explain (somewhat like I just did above, but all shy and embarrassed like...just wanting to run away), and I have no idea what he thought or felt about it (he tried to be nice and understanding), but I felt like such a weirdo!! I felt crazy for having lied, then I felt crazy for deciding to tell him. Aside from whether or not he'd been able to accept my crazy in that moment, I was not even close to being able to accept it myself. He left, and the inner dialogue went something like this:

***(definition: perfect me = the real me that is whole...that can hold ALL of reality, the "good" and the "bad." Perfectionist me= the part that only accepts the good)

PERFECTIONIST ME: "I'm SO weird! He's going to think I'm weird, and he's right. Why do I feel I have to drag people into my own weirdness? It's my fault I'd lied, I should've just lived with it."

PERFECT ME: What are you feeling?

PERFECTIONIST ME: Anxious and sad

PERFECT ME: Why anxious?

PERFECTIONIST ME: I don't think he's ever going to call again, and it's because I messed it up. Why do I do stuff like that?

PERFECT ME: What do you mean you messed it up?

PERFECTIONIST ME: I'm too intense and I do intense things sometimes, and it weirds people out.

PERFECT ME: Hmmm...seems to me there are lots of people who act intense who are in relationships with someone who loves them.

As my perfectionist spoke with my perfect self (the part of me that allows for ALL of reality...the "good" and the "bad,"), my perfectionist realized just was being a perfectionist. And, if this man never called again, that was okay, whatever the reason. I felt more trust that I was doing the best I knew how in that moment, and even if I did "mess it up," I was just learning.

For me, not actively engaging in the literal, dogmatic religion (or the dogmatic perspectives) of my past, has been a helpful part of releasing the belief that I need to be perfect, or that to be fulfilled, life even needs to look a certain way. I will admit, however, that I'm coming to believe that perfectionism is in the "eye of the beholder," because I am quite able to transfer those tendancies to other areas of my life...even without the church being so involved. But, I do think it is helping to not hear the messages reinforced over and over...week after week.

1 comment:

  1. I love the perfectionist in you becoming the real you. If another isn't harmed by the truth (which isn't the same as being uncomfortable!), your heart gets to expand when you share it.