by Sherrie Gerry, CMHC
Is the word Perfection, WORKING FOR YOU OR NOT?
Perfection, often a loaded word. Does this word add stress to your life? Maybe the following can lighten that stress.
At times, perfection can indicate the highest compliment and enjoyment. Yet, for many people; perfection can be the epitome of stress.
Coming from a religious background, I have experienced both.
A new way to look at perfection:
Today, I would like to share what I learned about the word, PERFECTION, that has brought it back to being a beautiful word for me.
Through the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) model we learn how our thinking determines our feelings and our feelings determine our behaviors and then our actions. This cycle determines the quality of our lives. Hence the focus on learning
Thinking Errors or Cognitive Distortions to avoid thinking that encourages negative
behaviors that can cause negative consequences; to encouraging thinking with more accuracy that increases positive behaviors that promote positive consequences.
So, one of the things I encourage clients to do when a particular word is causing
stress for them is to look up the historical definition of the word.
So, I did this with the word PERFECTION when I was a young mom with young
children wondering how I was ever going to be consistent, let alone perfect.
This led me on a beautiful path of discovery that blessed me with healthier, kinder
and more productive, thinking about the word, PERFECTION.
I looked up the word PERFECTION in The American Dictionary and it gave several
definitions of the word. I realized each one had it's own usefulness, some more than
The definition I really appreciated was, “…to become thoroughly learned.” Now
during the same time period I was reading several books about Maria Montessori’s
schools and her experiences and philosophy that caused her to create the
Montessori Method of teaching children.
In her books she described how she studied and observed children to find how they
learned, so she could facilitate autonomous learning with less outside judgment and
more autonomous judgment and joy.
Through this study and observation Maria came to a number of beliefs about how
children learn. Maria observed that children are not “thoroughly learned” until they
have memorized how to complete a task right and how to complete a task wrong. In
fact, she reports observing children purposely testing the wrong answers to test
Maria Montessori designed the stacked blocks for children we now often see in toy
stores. She created these kinds of learning “tools” to facilitate autonomous learning
where the child could judge for him/herself if something worked or did not work,
instead of having to rely on an adult to judge for them.
So, imagine a child stacking the biggest block at the bottom, then stacking smaller
and smaller blocks to complete the stack. Then, once in a while putting in the wrong
block to test and see for themselves the block is not in the right order.
Only when the child has memorized how to stack the blocks correctly and
memorized how to stack the blocks incorrectly does Maria consider that child
“thoroughly learned” with this task.
So, these two thoughts freed (liberated) me of my negative perception: Perfection is being thoroughly learned, and being thoroughly learned is knowing how to do something right and how to do something wrong.
Instead of thinking I had to do things in a very specific way, like walking in a straight
line military fashion, I now could learn how to do everything. I could learn by doing
things right and by doing things wrong. And I thought to myself, “I can do that. I can
learn.” So, if “Be Ye Therefore Perfect”, means going through a learning process, I
can do that.
And so can you. That is what we want to encourage here at Counseling For Success.
Thorough learning. We want to study with you how you have done things right and
how you have done things wrong, because we want you to be able to judge for
yourselves if your life is working for you or not.
Because we believe in you, we believe that helping you see more clearly you will
naturally and organically make positive changes in your lives.