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The Great Perfection Hoax: A Horse’s Exposé

For certain purposes and for limited times, horses wear blinders to reduce the distraction of what is behind and beside them.  Some trainers use blinders keep horses from getting spooked on busy streets or distracted by crowds at a race.  By limiting their field of vision, blinders enable horses to focus on the task at hand.  If worn all the time, however, blinders would get in a horse’s way. He may not spot the cool stream to his left or the tasty mound of hay to his right.  He could run through a wide meadow unable to quench his thirst or satisfy his hunger.

So, what do horses, blinders, and perfection have in common?

Searching for perfection is like wearing blinders: it limits our field of vision.  We become unaware of change and opportunity outside a narrow focus of expectation.  Sure, perfection has its allure – otherwise we wouldn’t be enticed by perpetual media adds tempting us with the perfect car, a way to get flawless skin, or  exercise equipment promising 6-pack abs in a flash.  The problem is that perfectionism defines success in very narrow terms, and like blinders on a horse, it excludes a wide range of possibilities that we may actually find appealing.   Think about how expecting perfection in people can mess up relationships.  Evidence of imperfection in a loved one may blind us to his good points, while imperfection in ourselves motivates us to dismiss our own strength, beauty, and value.

Just as horses don’t always wear blinders, perhaps its time for us to remove the blinders of perfection.  What will happen if we do?

A teenager may discover a gorgeous smile amid acne.  A septuagenarian may recognize sparkly eyes in sea of wrinkles.  A man may appreciate his 10 year old ride.  A wife may discover kindness in her husband.  A woman may realize that her curvy body is sexy.   A student may discover that learning is more important than just getting A’s.   Without blinders, maybe we’ll all get closer to finding satisfaction.

What will you discover when you remove the blinders of perfection?

Are You Ready to Start?

If so, please Contact Me and describe your concerns and we'll discuss how counseling can help.


We keep chasing after perfection as if it is an achievable goal,

when really it is the most grand and painful of all mirages.    Courtney E. Martin

Ms. Martin penned these words about the female preoccupation with weight in Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters (2007).  Yet almost everywhere I look, even in the mirror, I see traces of the struggle for perfection in our culture. Young, middle-aged, or mature adult, we are inundated by media images presenting impossible-to-attain ideals for every stage of life.  It may seem that the only way to escape the deluge is to move to a cabin in the middle of the wilderness… 

Lacking access to an isolated cabin, what happens when our self-image is media driven?   Perhaps our daughters request breast augmentations for high school graduation presents.  Maybe we mourn the appearance of crows’ feet even though we’re clearly the proper age to have them.  Perhaps retired women, with beautiful faces, feel disappointed when reunion pictures fail to make them look 10 years younger.  Maybe we chase dreams of living in houses, driving cars, or wearing clothes we cannot afford.

Mirages are optical phenomena, creatures of our visual perceptionDriving down a long stretch of road on a hot day, we perceive a wet pool of water up the road.  Yet when we reach the spot, the pool of water has disappeared.  Such is the case with chasing perfection – attainment is always out of our reach.  And in all our effort, we miss the value of who we really are.   Helping clients discover their inner value is another thing I love about being a therapist.   

How do you determine your true value?  What works and what doesn’t work?

Are You Ready to Start?

If so, please Contact Me and describe your concerns and we'll discuss how counseling can help.