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 perception. Driving 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?