The Struggle to be Perfect

"I thought I had to become something... something more, something better, maybe even something different."


Since 1990, I have been in the business of helping people either as a psychotherapist or certified coach, except for the couple of years I worked as a horse farm caretaker and the couple of years I owned a fine art gallery. Even then, I always had a client or two. It's been an interesting, bumpy journey to say the least.

Against all odds, because I really hated school, I went back to university 30 years ago to earn my graduate degree in counseling. I trained. I got credentialed. I set up a practice. I struggled. I helped people. I struggled. I felt like a fraud because I struggled. I helped people despite my struggles. I felt inauthentic because I wrestled my own demons. I helped my clients. They said so. I felt I wasn't enough. I quit and worked on a horse farm. I knew the farm animals had no expectations of me.

After a couple of years on the farm, I decided to work with people again because that truly is my calling. I got more training and more credentials thinking that would prove my worth. For some reason, I thought I needed to be perfect in order to help people. Of course, I wasn't and I didn't have to be. In fact, since that time, I've learned that the struggle to be perfect actually interfered with the perfection that I am at my core already. We forget that our essence is perfectly whole. When we forget, we struggle and suffer, and boy did I suffer, almost to death (another story for another time).


Since then, I've learned that life (God, spirit, the intelligence behind all life, or whatever name you call it) is living me... just as life lives the oak tree that grows from an acorn... just as life lives the precious songbird who knows innately to wake up each morning and search for food... just as the flower effortlessly opens its petals. It took me quite a few years to learn this, and I still forget. Life continued living me, as it lives everyone, even though I didn't understand, even though I struggled against it. I thought I had to become something... something more, something better, maybe even something different. This thought took on a life of its own, as thought tends to do, and I suffered greatly. Perhaps you understand the struggle.


Perhaps you can feel the power of thought at work in you, how it takes on a life of its own and runs the show. Such and such happens, thoughts flood your mind racing into the future or reaching into the past. "Maybe, I'm not good enough, smart enough, brave enough. I'll never manage this. How will I ever get through this? Or, how dare they! How could they! Why me?" The story gets bigger and more powerful as it generates emotion. The story exponentially escalates as we feed the flame. It feels so real and compelling! Now it has become unmanageable, indeed.

Here's the thing, you and I can handle this present moment. We are built to handle the present moment. It's our default. When we get caught up in our personal thinking about what's happening, reaching into the past and future, we create suffering. Test it for yourself. See where this may be true in your life. Notice the stories you spin. The ones that keep you up at night and keep you from relaxing during the day. Notice how the stories themselves cause you to suffer rather than the situation at hand. It can be tricky to see at times so experiment with it and see what you see. You may be surprised.


You can handle the situation at hand. I promise. What feels so unmanageable is the exponential thinking you're having about the situation. When you let that exponential thinking fall away, the clouds eventually part and the sun of your well-being and clarity appear. You can count on it.


I would be delighted to hear your thoughts.