Perfection Has No Home in the Body

Perfection is not interested
in staying in the body.
It wants to fly,
wants ideals,
wants beauty,
wants truth,
wants light,
and you sure don’t get these here.

—Marion Woodman

 

To better digest the meaning of this reflection, it’s worth reviewing the meaning of perfection:

the condition, state, or quality of being free or as free as possible from all flaws or defects.

This definition highlights why perfection and staying in the body (embodiment) are mutually exclusive.

As women, we are conditioned, trained, and brainwashed from a very young age to be aware of and know our flaws and defects.

Most of us knew our “defects” by the time we were teenagers. Maybe a parent, a teacher, or a coach cruelly pointed them out to us.

And when you layer on the impact of media and culture, perfectionism can grow deep roots before childhood ends.

The ways young girls and women are systematically cut off from the experience of embodiment is truly devastating.

Does the pull toward perfection — over staying in the body — feel familiar to you? It will if you deeply relate to wanting truth, beauty, ideals, and light.

And while there’s nothing wrong with these qualities or states of being, when they’re out of balance they become dangerous, and even deadly.

For example, if you want your home to be tidy and clean because it pleases you, or so it will be ready to receive the visitors you look forward to seeing, you are probably not in perfection.

But if you need the straight lines created by vacuuming the carpet to remain in place and undisturbed even when friends and loved ones come to visit, you have flown into perfection.

Perfection looks like being unable to leave your house without putting on makeup, versus liking the way you look with makeup, yet having the power to choose (from the inside out) whether or not you will apply it before you go out.

When perfectionism has taken hold it has a kind of driven energy about it.

It’s that feeling you have when you must correct another person when they get it wrong, or defend yourself when someone says something less than complimentary about you, or when you relentlessly argue with someone to try to get them to see it your way.

Staying in the body, in the physical realm, is an unending experience of uncertainty, imperfection, and messiness.

And here’s a thought: what if truth, beauty, ideals, and light can also be found in the imperfection of embodiment? Imagine finding these qualities while staying in the body, rather than flying.

A word of caution:

If you have ever been accused of being a perfectionist, remember that the person making the claim is entitled to their perception and you are also entitled to yours.

People with dark intent and motives will attempt to cause you to lower or abandon your standards by claiming that your standards are unreasonably high.

You can receive their perspective, and then go inside and explore your own.

If you still feel foggy or fuzzy, reach out to someone who cares about you and has the ability to be objective and honest with you as you get clarity about your reality.

If we’re honest with ourselves, most of us can find perfection inside that manifests as people-pleasing, image management, or attachment to being thought of as knowledgeable, correct, or right.

The invitation is to see how perfection disconnects you from your body — the most reliable and deepest source of information available to you.

 

Invitations for reflection, exploration, and action:

  • Of the qualities mentioned in this reflection — truth, beauty, ideals, light — which one tempts you most into perfection?
  • Are there any imperfections about your body that you can appreciate or love?
  • Think of someone you love unconditionally. How do you love their imperfect body? How can this unconditional love of the other inform how you might love your imperfect embodied self?

 


© Vicki Tidwell Palmer (2021)

Coming Home to Myself: Reflections for Nurturing a Woman’s Body and Soul (©1998)
By Marion Woodman and Jill Mellick
(Reprinted with permission)

*This post is from the Coming Home to You Series. Visit this page for the backstory of the CHTY Series.

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The deepest experience of the creator is feminine, for it is experience of receiving and bearing.”

Rainer Maria Rilke