I have recently been observing a phenomenon among women that I find is of interest to examine more closely – not least because I have a personal experience with it. It is a mixture between: 'Where is the flaw' and 'not being enough yet'. Especially when women get together in groups, this dynamic plays out and outlines a movement that, from my experience, applies to just about every woman.

On the one hand it is about the perpetual striving to reach point X, where I can then give myself the apparent absolution of finally being enough, and on the other hand, everything along the way that does not correspond to the ideal of point X is declared a defect and hence confirms the notion that we are flawed.

In simple words: I am not yet where I think I should be.

Which in turn is constantly proven by the many flaws and imperfections that a woman says she has. The view of myself is thus constantly deficient as it never matches the ideal or picture of perfection.

How toxic is the assumption that there is such a thing as perfection? It is a cheap copy of what complete-ness actually means in the truest sense.

Perfection, in the worldly context, makes you believe that you have achieved fulfillment. If one has reached this point X, then one is fulfilled and thereby untouchable. One has, so to speak, 'done everything right'. The absurd thing is that perfection is something subjective, an arbitrary ideal and therefore means something different for everyone. For one person it may be perfect at one point, another will still have something to criticise, because point X has not yet been reached in his/her lived value system.

We are thus scampering after a created state of existence, which has merely sprung from a specifically decided and created or adopted value system. Perfection is determined by something outside of me and measures itself constantly with others.

Someone has somehow at some point decided that you are perfect if, for example, you look a certain way, do X amount of work in a measured period of time, or get the best grade. Or that you never cause trouble because you do things as expected, that no one in your environment ever feels offended because you have perfected your way of being with people.

Again, who actually decides what is perfect and when? Has fulfilment been reached? Whether there are deficiencies or faults?

It becomes apparent how much arrogance is hidden behind the act of declaring someone else as not perfect, because one assumes the right to evaluate how another one acts, looks or speaks etc.

The thing about perfection is this: at the moment when you yourself or someone else has reached your expected ideal a brief moment of elation sets in, but very quickly it just isn't enough anymore. You neither really arrive at yourself, nor are you really letting in the person opposite you.

If perfection were a truth and actually made us happy, why do we never reach a point where the feeling of true joy permanently prevails? Why do we, after a short triumph, always immediately find the next issue to work on? Whether that be to train our abilities/skills ever more excessively in order to perfect them, or to experiment with optimizing our appearance (externally). It's a movement that never truly lets us rest. We will always find something somewhere that could be optimized or improved.

It all sounds very exhausting – and it is. So what do we actually get out of being perfect?

The pursuit of perfection keeps us in perpetual tension and in a never-ending idea of conforming to the highest societal conceptions in order to thus receive the greatest rewards: security and untouchability.

No one can attack me anymore, truly get close to me or question me, if I meet the highest values of society and live according to them. I then can relax and withdraw into my cave, and no one has the right to even think of luring me out of there to really participate in life and show myself for who I really am. Moreover, I can put myself above other people, wield power, without anyone being able to do anything against me.

We humans are in a constant, inescapable process of development and deepening and thus are constantly learning. Thus, there will always be so-called 'mistakes' – great opportunities through which, as we know, we can learn the most.

However, this is exactly the crunch point: in my opinion, we should scrutinise the use of the word 'mistake' in a negative sense – or even use it at all with this meaning in our vocabulary – because everything we experience, that we simply haven't mastered yet, we often become aware of through 'mistakes'.

A mistake that is simply not a mistake at all.

On the contrary, it’s a wonderful way to understand yourself and others more deeply, because patterns, images or beliefs are revealed that otherwise would not have been noticed.

So there simply are no true mistakes after all.

If I try to be perfect and thus do not allow myself moments of learning, I cannot really go deeper with everything that life is showing me. Instead, I find myself in a permanent hamster wheel of reactions while doing everything imaginable to keep up appearances.

Many women are now so honest to say self-reflectively that they carry and feel this urge for perfection within themselves – but what if this urge has never belonged to us women? If it just isn't inside us, but we consciously choose it? An ivory tower that is actually a prison into which we have locked ourselves because we thought it would grant us protection.

What are we really avoiding when we consciously decide to move into this commonly self-destructive cycle? Do we perhaps know more than we want to admit about the wisdom that is naturally inherent in all women and would change the world if only we gave it expression?

Because we women have not seen a living example of the wholeness of our being, and we have not learned to embrace and accept it in every moment, we have fallen for the cheap copy – perfection.

Perfection dulls us to the pain of being separate within ourselves and somehow gets us through life conformed and at least untouchable to some extent. The gap that arose in ourselves seemed to be filled by this, but in fact we only put a lid on it. So what if we have been sold a lie and in a pursuit of perfection we are actually seeking something that we already come from, a state of being or quality that is within; a wholeness and completeness that confirms us in the all that we are.

Perfection = Faultlessness or Flawlessness
Completion = Absoluteness / Completeness / Fulfillment

They both seem to 'sell' the same end result and thus appear similar. But it only appears that way, because when you let the two states sink in, you feel how they are completely different. Which state describes true stillness and contentment:

  1. Perfection, the insatiable addiction and search for fulfillment of externally and self-determined value systems against which we constantly calibrate ourselves.
  • or
  1. Completeness, which offers the feeling of being enough in every moment, knowing that we are on a path that cannot be compared with anything or anyone else?

Perfection makes lonely.
Completeness inspires others and unites.

True completion or truly being complete has nothing to do with externally set guidelines. To ever arrive anywhere is an illusion that the consciousness of perfection sells us. We are always in the process of changing and evolving back to the origin of our essence.

So there is never such a thing as an end.

Even in feeling complete, there will always be a deeper understanding that we are constantly evolving. The big difference compared to perfection, however, is that it doesn't make us feel faulty or thinking we're not enough yet.

How is it done?

It is about completing situations in fullness.

In these moments of fullness, I am everything and enough. Everything that was possible at that moment.

And even if I become aware of things that still need to be looked at and can be let go of, everything is finished and complete in this moment.

I focus on everything that is there and not on the ‘what is not’. Life will always offer me moments in which I can realise and learn more. Thus, what is NOW may simply be absolutely complete.

The fatal thing is, if we skip this step of completion and with it the conclusion and go instead into reaction and perceive ourselves as being faulty or that we have not done something right, we avoid the state of fullness. In addition, this decisive moment of richness energetically already rings in the next evolutionary step – as like the Universe constantly expands, we are being asked continually to evolve and expand with it.

There is just no moment of 'now I am finished'. But there is the feeling of completion in the process of eternal expansion. So there is no such thing as perfection, but fullness can be felt at any time, even if it has nothing to do with an actual end point.

Every moment is so rich with insights; we as women are not flawed as in truth we are such powerful beings!

What if we didn't waste ourselves on a created ideal or image and instead gave expression to our true power? If we broke free from the claw of perfection that we once gave full access over ourselves? If we used this to step into the responsibility of reflecting to other women how great they are as well?

Perfection is pure illusion to which we have committed ourselves in order to continue moving in the cycle of dis-empowerment and feebleness. It is the adversary and the poor replica of the true cycle: the eternal and ever-recurring completion and expansion that connects us ever more deeply with the inherent power from which we spring.

Filed under

Body imageSelf-esteemSelf-worth

  • By Steffi Henn

  • Photography: Matt Paul