Tiffany Music Therapy

Behind the Curtain: Perfectionism


Perfection is an illusion that cripples our chances of exploring beyond walls of familiarity. It’s an unrealistic expectation of superiority that we place on ourselves and others

What exactly does it mean to be “perfect”?  According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, being perfect or achieving perfection means “conforming absolutely to the description or definition of an ideal type.”

Perfectionism is alive and thriving even during times like the pandemic. We’ve all turned to social connection and have adopted the unreachable standards of perfection set by social media– representing the best virtual life while masking the realities of our lives. 

In times of increased social media consumption and virtual connection, we want to conform to the ideal type, and present an ideal story.

But how can perfectionism fuel negative relationships?

For those of us who already struggle with the reality of being human– imperfect and full of mistakes– perfectionism sets a negative measure of self worth and importance.

Placing expectations of perfection on ourselves, robs us of the chance to realize our potential. We find ourselves engaging in negative self-talk, comparing our lives to others, and feeling increasingly unsatisfied with what we have. Expectations of perfection holds us back from reaching our goals, through encouraging us to replicate what we think and believe is perfect according to social standards.

This is true to our relationships with others as well. When we take what social standards describe to be a perfect relationship and compare it to our own relationships, we find ourselves spiraling into a hole of viewing our relationships as insufficient and inadequate.

We place unrealistic expectations on others, and prevent them from organically providing for us the best way they know how. We place individuals on pedestals of who they are “meant” to be, and prevent ourselves from really seeing them. This deception can create inner turmoil of not being able to trust our judgement, or it can further fuel the illusion of perfection when we feel unheard, misunderstood and unwanted.

When in reality, we set ourselves up for failure from the start by failing to see the person in front of us, and perhaps presenting an inauthentic version of ourselves and our needs.

So how can we work beyond perfection?

We can start to work beyond perfection by taking baby steps. The need for perfection is instilled in many of us through our environment and upbringing, making it difficult to unlearn these thought patterns and behaviours.

For our relationship with ourselves, we can start by incorporating self-compassion into our daily lives and monitoring our inner dialogue to see how we are talking to and treating ourselves.

For our relationships with others, we can work to maintain good communication, and balance between what we and the others in our relationships need.

We can remind ourselves that we are not built to be perfect, but are more than enough and deserving of healthy relationships. We can pull back the curtains of perfection and allow ourselves to authentically show up for our relationship with ourselves and others.