Creating Congruence – Redefining Perfection
In the previous creating congruence post, we looked at how choosing to update your vocabulary by replacing the world should with could is an exercise that improves the relationship that you have with your definition of the perfect human.
To achieve real growth on your journey of self-actualisation though, you need to take a two-pronged attack; this means updating and refining your definition.
First consider this; life is a journey, not a destination. We are born and eventually we will die. Just like a wave, our lives are simply a process within the universe as a whole. Everything in nature is constantly changing and evolving; humans are exactly the same as we are part of nature too.
This is an insight that is widely forgotten in modern day society. Life and success are viewed as a static destination of acquisition; primarily acquisition of material things which signify to other humans that we have been “successful”.
This world perspective is compounded by social media content algorithms and modern-day marketing strategies. Never have humans been so bombarded with images of so called “perfection” which companies use to appeal to our egos and instinctual drive to want to achieve an image of success in the eyes of others.
“You need this stuff… it will make you appear successful… which will make people like you… which will make you happy”
Redefining perfection is about shining the torch of your focus on to your definition of the perfect human and questioning why you agree with your definition.
Honesty Creates Clarity
Every time a should pops up in your mind, the first thing to do is question where has it come from. Simply ask “but why”.
This is a practice of self-honesty.
When you ask “but why”, you need to feel within your whole body and mind the true reason that sits at the root of the should. I describe it this way because if you feel any resistance to the thoughts you are having, you know that you are not being completely honest and need to keep asking but why.
How do you know if you need to dig a little more?… when you are honest with yourself, seeing the truth clearly you feel a sense of relief. Ahhhhh…. The tension is freed…
Are you thinking about other people and their perception of you or, are you thinking about your own personal growth to please yourself? If you are thinking about other people, how does thinking about that make you feel (revisit the emotional checkpoint tool). You see, when we focus on what other people think fear is often just one step away at the real root of the “should”.
What is it that you are afraid of and how will this particular “should” help to address that?
Maybe, you could simply choose to reject the fear of being afraid of how you may appear in your roles as a secondary cast member in someone else’s story. They are in control of their story, not you.
The only story that matters is your own.
When this is considered, you may find that the ‘should’ is actually underpinned by a perceived need; and when you put that need in to context, it may just turn out to be a want.
Needs are essential for living, wants are a nice to have.
You can want the whole world, but as long as you don’t need it, you will get along just fine!
The practice of asking “but why” and the transitioning of needs in to wants; will allow you to start to weed out your definition and clear the soil for you to plant some new seeds.
To assist with this, let’s narrow down our focus a little bit by identifying the different types of criteria that make up our definition.
Absolute refers to things that are static like achieving a qualification, owning a particular thing or earning a certain salary. While it is important for your definition to include elements which are absolute, this starts to become a problem when the volume of absolute criteria significantly outweighs the relative criteria.
The absolute criteria list is the one that product marketing targets. If they can get something on to your list, they also get pennies in their pockets. The thing with absolute criteria is that once the conditions are satisfied i.e., the goal is met; they become redundant and an updated version of the criteria is required.
To be clear, there is a significant difference between setting yourself a goal to achieve or learn something and setting yourself a goal to acquire a material possession. Achievements like climbing a mountain or gaining a qualification lay the foundations for the next goal that you will choose to strive for. The attainment of material wealth simply means you have more stuff.
Some absolute criteria are essential, but check to make sure it is something that you honestly need to satisfy living your life to the highest potential; not something that you simply want to satisfy social conventions or to gain credibility in someone else’s story.
A good ‘but why’, and switching the should for a could, will help you do this.
Humans seem to default to using absolute criteria because they are simple binary states which makes them easy to understand. Have or have not. This means that relative criteria are often incorrectly classified as absolute. To understand more about this, let’s look at relative criteria.
The clue is in the name with relative criteria. They are defined in such a way that the context of your current life situation needs to be factored in when evaluating yourself against them. Pretty much everything that is absolute could be switched to be relative, there are somethings that simply only add true value when they are relative though.
They key to relative criteria is all in the wording. Here are a few examples of the absolute and relative equivalents:
A good human…
- A – is always compassionate
- R – practices improving their compassion
- A – Has a super car
- R – has the best car they can afford factoring in their chosen life style, available finances and priorities
- A – does not make mistakes
- R – learns from their mistakes
- A – will always do their best
- R – will always do the best they can in a given situation
- A – will always face their fears
- R – is allowed to feel vulnerable and will learn to face their fears more often
- A – never gets angry
- R – is aware of their anger and is learning to control their behaviour in response to it
Can you see a pattern?
The absolute criteria all represent a binary state – do or do not. The relative definitions all describe a direction of travel. Improving, learning, growing.
Yes, we do need some absolute criteria to aim at, but what is more important is that we cultivate ourselves to progress towards achieving the one true goal of living our lives to our highest potential. Note the word living, not lived (action is the present moment, not reflection on the past).
We achieve our highest potential by prioritising increasing our vitality and the vitality of everything around us. Note the word increasing, not increased (always evolving and growing).
We do not know the upper limit to our full potential as humans yet; we in fact may never know. What we do know is that:
“Life is a journey, not a destination.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Rebuilding your definition of the perfect human by placing more of an emphasis on relative criteria rather than absolute, is the second pincer in a two-pronged attack on your ego. An attack that aims to rid you of the curse of “should” and the debilitating effect that having an unrealistic definition of the perfect human has on you.
You could look at the application of this insight as a form of gamification of life. The thing with games though is that there are often ways to cheat. That is what we will explore in the next post…
Enjoy, for now.