Three years ago this month, I came home after work one Saturday afternoon to find my dog, Hermione, cowering under my daughter's bed whimpering and unable to move her back legs.
That night, after the vet pinched and squeezed the little Corgi toes on her back feet with a pliers--and got no response from her--we were told by the doctor that she would never be able to walk again, she would most likely be incontinent, and unless we invested around $10,000 in surgery and therapy (that may or may not successfully return her ability to walk and function normally), the best course of action was to put her down.
I have learned a lot about imperfection in the years since, and the pain and struggle we cause ourselves when we work so hard to create perfection--perfection that is, after all, unattainable.
Two of my greatest teachers have been Hermione (who MADE A MIRACULOUS And COMPLETE RECOVERY within three months of her spinal injury), and Brene Brown, author of the book The Gifts of Imperfection.
Here's one of my favorite quotes from Dr. Brown:
“Perfectionism is a self-destructive and addictive belief system that fuels this primary thought: 'If I look perfect, live perfectly, and do everything perfectly, I can avoid or minimize the painful feelings of shame, judgment, and blame.'
Perfectionism is defeating and self-destructive simply because there is no such thing as perfect. Perfection is an unattainable goal. Additionally, perfectionism is more about perception – we want to be perceived as perfect. Again, this is unattainable – there is no way to control perception, regardless of how much time and energy we spend trying." (HERE is the wonderful blog post this excerpt is from.)