Tag Archives: Perfectionism

Why You Should Keep Striving in Life

All of us suffer from a phenomenon known as the “end of history illusion”.  Essentially, we tend to underestimate how much we will change in the future.  For example, everyone looks back and thinks, “I can’t believe I did those stupid things”; “I can’t believe I was so wrong/silly/impulsive”; “I can’t believe I really liked that food/hobby/band”; “If I only knew then what I know now…”

Although most people acknowledge that their lives have changed even in the past decade, they generally underestimate the extent to which their personalities and tastes will shift in the future.  We like to concentrate on our present wonderfulness and think that the person we are at the moment is who we’ll be forever.  Yet, change is inevitable and change is constant.  You’re never going to be the person you expect to become for the rest of your life (unless it’s one second before your death).   

However, I think there is an even more important reason why people don’t accept how different they’ll be in the future: “If I am going to change, it implies I’m not so terrific now.”

I choose not to look at it that way.  Instead of seeing yourself as someone with a bunch of flaws to correct, I think it’s a better attitude to consider the changes as opportunities for growth.  You’re expanding your horizons and having new adventures.  As I mentioned on-air, I was a little unhappy about turning 66.  It just seemed old to me.  However, I decided that instead of this being my slide down, it was going to be my slide up.  Recently, I’ve been doing a lot of work with metal and jewelry for my Dr. Laura Designs store.  My motivation is to keep learning how to use new tools and master different techniques (sometimes I drive myself so crazy that I have to close the door of my craft room and watch a movie to get my brain to leave me alone for a minute).  I keep myself in a constant state of learning with my crafts, program, and life in general. 
It’s also important to accept that you’re never going to be perfect.  When I’m filing a piece of metal, it seems like a never-ending process.  I do my best to file away all the tiny imperfections, but no matter how much I file, it’s never going to be perfect on a molecular level.  However, I don’t stop trying – I just accept that it won’t be perfect.  Striving for perfection without accepting that there isn’t any is neurotic.

I think that’s the best mentality to have in life: accept that you’ll never be perfect, but keep putting your best effort forward.  We will all die one day and we still won’t be perfect.  However, instead of sliding down the ladder because we feel like it’s no use, we need to keep going up.  As long as there are still steps on that ladder, we need to climb them.

Everyone Can Relate to Feeling Shy

It doesn’t matter if you’re an introverted type or an extroverted type, everyone can relate to feeling shy because nobody wants to feel poorly judged or rejected.  We all want to be accepted.  We tend to think only introverts are shy, but that’s not true.  Shyness has more than just to do with being uncomfortable around other people – it largely comes from being worried about rejection.

Shyness is all about the self: self-consciousness, self-evaluation, self-preoccupation…self, self, self. 

  • You are overly aware of yourself.
  • You tend to see yourself negatively.
  • You tend to pay too much attention to all the things you might be doing wrong when there are other people around.

Everyone can relate to this, and it’s actually kind of normal.  However, the problem is when people take it to the nth degree.  Their hypersensitivity causes a lot of anxiety – e.g. they become preoccupied with someone raising an eyebrow because they assume it must mean something about them.  And if you’ve decided you’re shy, then you will often play that role.  You psychologically feel inclined to live up to those expectations

The first thing you need to consider in getting over your shyness is what situations trigger your feelings:  Are they work situations?  Social situations?  Do they involve all males?  All females?  People you don’t know?  Some people you know but have a hard time getting along with?  It’s really important to sit there and think, “Is this situational in some way?  What is triggering this feeling?“ 

In addition, you basically need to understand that the world is not paying that much attention to you.  Sorry.  Most people are too busy looking at themselves.  If you’ve got a whole room full of shy people, nobody really cares about anybody else because they’re only concerned with how they’re being registered.

Here’s another tip: stop trying to be perfect.  A woman called into my show the other day who was SERIOUS about trying to be perfect.  I just laughed and said, “Well I can’t help you with that because I don’t understand perfect.  I never got to be there.  I don’t think there is such a place.”  If you’re completely arrogant, you can think you’re perfect, but nobody is actually perfect.  And even if you could be perfect, a lot of people would hate you for being perfect, and therefore, you still wouldn’t be liked by everybody.  You have to accept that some people are just not going to judge you positively or want to have anything to do with you. 

At some point, you have to accept rejection and not take it personally.  That’s why in my book, 10 Stupid Things Couples Do to Mess Up Their Relationships, I say that if you get rejected by another person, then it’s “not a match,” not that the “other person is horrible.” 

If you’re shy, there are some simple things you can do when you start feeling uncomfortable: 

First of all, it’s helpful to recognize that you’re good at something and that you have something to offer.  But do you know what’s the number one thing you can offer? 
An interest in somebody else. 

When you’re in a social situation and you’re spending all of your time thinking about how bad you look, how bad you are, how nobody’s going to like you, how you sound stupid, how you have nothing intelligent to say, etc., you’re not paying any attention to anyone else.  That’s why they’re not interested in you.  People are the most interested in people who are interested in them.  It’s as simple as that. 

So, the best technique for breaking the ice and feeling more comfortable in a social situation is showing interest in someone else.  Ask questions about their life, their family, their hobbies, and their work.  Shyness is merely an unbelievably excessive focus on the self, and therefore, it can be overcome by showing interest in somebody else.

The next time the anxiety sets in, just breathe.  Take some slow, deep breaths, close your eyes (unless you’re driving), and concentrate only on breathing and feeling the air going in and out.  Then, look around the room and think, “Wow. Look how fortunate I am to have this opportunity to perhaps meet some people who will be wonderful in my life and me in theirs.”