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June 01, 2016

The Perfectionist’s Trap

Tags: Perfectionism, Individuality, Uniqueness, Acceptance, Shadow, Creativity

You see it in the fine print of advertisements, the subliminal messaging that there is a state of perfection that you have yet to achieve. It may be your looks, your ability to earn, your social status or even your health but something is amiss, and until you fix it, expect to hide in shame.

Many of us are indoctrinated into this belief system by parents who know that part of mastering their own drive for perfection is having the perfect child. You were marched into formation and asked to tow the line, given rules to live by and standards to achieve. In the process, however, you rejected the parts of yourself that aren’t perfect. When we put our imperfections in shadow we can only see them externally, in our judgements and pity of others. Many, ironically, try to overcome these divisions by helping others change to their ideal.

There has been considerable research done on the difference between the left and right sides of the brain. Simply put, the left side is the logical, critical side, while the right side is the creative expressive side. While cultivation and standards do hone and refine, the perfectionist insists on, well, perfection. Everything that is not in adherence with this strict code gets shoved into the closet or under the bed. Since emotions are volatile and unpredictable, they are usually the first to go.

Behind the perfectionist, however, there is usually a swamp of unexpressed emotions looking some vent to escape through. Often it comes through as anger as the pressure to maintain their ideal mounts. Emotions can be messy, no doubt about it. Our feelings, however, are feedback systems for our experiences and evoking them is at the root of creativity. What great piece of art does not stir something deep within us? The artist lets her right brain lead, and leaves the left brain to edit and hone. The perfectionist, on the other hand, gets so trapped in their definitions that they lose connection to the very soul of their creation, leaving only a sterile shell of appearance.

Perfection is an idealized state imposed by the critical left brain, a human filter, not something we find in Nature. Biologists will tell you that diversity is the key to evolution. The reason we have different skin and eye colors is because we have adapted genetically to varying amounts of sun exposure as we migrated across the globe. When we try to create a perfect anything, race, vegetable or dog, we genetically weed out characteristics of adaptability that would otherwise allow for evolution, should environmental circumstances change. This actually makes the species weaker instead of stronger.

If we look back to indigenous societies, something we all derived from at some point, we again see diversity, not homogeneity, is the basis for a rich and compassionate coexistence. There are twin spirits, for example, who are people honored and revered for their abilities to transcend gender roles. They can be both nurturers and warriors, depending on what the tribe needs most at the time. There are people who hear the voices of Spirit, who are revered for their spiritual connections and wisdom instead of feared. These anomalies bring depth and complexity to the human existence, as well as practical gifts.

The nature of the Creative Force is to express itself as complexly as possible. The duck billed platypus was not designed in the form of perfection, it evolved to fill a niche. True perfection lies in the complete expression of all permutations possible, not the cloning of an exact ideal. The more variations on the theme, the more likely the species will survive. Instead of hobbling ourselves through shame and judgement, let us embrace our whole selves and rejoice in expressing the complexity of the Divine!

Christina Allen’s work as an Intuitive, Healer, Teacher and Founder and Director of the Austin Shamanic Center, combines a strong science background (BA Physics, MS Neuroscience) with decades of applied ancient spiritual wisdom (Master Yogi, Reiki Master, and profound Shamanic Healing based on Q’ero Indian traditions of Peru). Learn more about making private appointments, and upcoming classes, at or (512) 391-9829.

© Austin All Natural, June, 2016

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