imperfect part 1

There are a number of things about myself that I don’t quite understand. Perhaps chief amongst these right now is perfectionism—being unsatisfied with anything but perfection, especially when it comes to the things I try to accomplish. Truth be told, my own tendency towards perfectionism been getting me down lately. It manifests itself as a sort of negative, intolerant attitude that minimizes the things I do. I suppose that may also describe “low self-esteem”, to refer to the pop psychological concept that seems to plague all or most of Western society.

I’ve been told by many different people, Baha’is and otherwise, that I’m too hard on myself, that I beat myself up about things rather than being kind, gentle and firm with myself, accepting gradual improvement rather than immediate perfection. I’m still having trouble understanding the whole issue. Part of me wants to be gentler with myself, but another part wants to challenge myself to improve. I tend to be a bit rough while “challenging” myself, I suppose—throwing myself into uncomfortable situations and trying to force myself to use my intuition to adapt to the circumstances. Sometimes it works, but often I end up freaking out and messing up, or at least things don’t go the way I wanted them to go—which is that I would learn how to do something that previously made me very uncomfortable and all would be well and good. In fact, this has happened before, but more often than not, the feeling of accomplishment would be overwhelmed by thoughts like: “It was a fluke”, “Look how exhausted you are, you’ll never be able to do it more than once”. And the dark feelings of anxiety and despair come back.

I’m not sure where I’m going with this really, but this is a burning issue in my life that I expect that I’ll revisit sometime soon, so I wanted to post this and leave it open for comments from all of you.

3 thoughts on “imperfect part 1

  1. There are the tests that God gives us, and then there are the tests we give ourselves. Part of resignation to the Will of God is allowing God to take over, even if we don’t understand the purpose or it seems like things aren’t going how we want them to go.

    Also, over-analyzing the process has a paralyzing effect, and can lead to more mistakes than right answers. When we are truly servants, when we are in the spirit of service, things really do tend to go right. Our personal problems, self-esteem issues, and all of that other stuff gets taken care of, and we focus on what needs to be done and the right way to do it.

    I know it doesn’t feel like I’m giving many actual answers (reading it over, it is rather vague), but I’m usually better with helping in specific situations…above, I am just trying to address your post with what I have found to be true in the few short years that I have lived on this earth. You’ll have to find your own solutions, what works best for you. But you know you’ve got some higher powers up there…say some prayers and draw on them for help! There are a lot of souls in the next world that are just waiting around for someone to remember that they are there.

  2. This summer I’ve been going through the transition you describe here. I liike that you articulate the details of your struggle. I also like Shohleh’s comment.

    What was most helpful for me in progressing in this regard was when a bunch of friends hanging out decided to read the midnight prayer at midnight and stay in meditation for a long period. Many of us felt manifestations of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s introduction to the prayer:

    O seeker of Truth! If thou desirest that God may open thine eye, thou must supplicate God, pray to and commune with Him at midnight, saying:

  3. Dan,

    First of all, I appreciate the openness with which you address a personal subject. Others can, and have, drawn on your experiences here in a positive and meaningful way.

    Second of all, your post reminds me of a sentence in Paul Lample’s A New Mind (available free in its entirety on the Internet) on the individual. He notes that we Baha’is are invited to “scrupulously examine ourselves in the light of the divine teachings.” He wrote on pp 23-24:

    It is worth noting, however, that tolerance should even occasionally be
    extended to oneself, since, as the Guardian observes, “even the Prophets
    of God sometimes got tired and cried out in despair!”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *