Channel: Muslim Life Hackers
Series: Muslim Life Hackers - Season 1
Mifrah discusses all things perfectionism. Sometimes we set the bar too high, ask for too much and expect the gold standard. High expectation can be good but on the other hand they can bring you down. Real down. In this podcast we address what perfectionism is and how to tackle it if you find it is bringing you down.
In this episode you will learn:
– How we are sold the concept of being perfect
– What perfectionism is
– What to do if you find yourself falling into this habit
Episode 14 Welcome to the Muslim life hackers podcast, the weekly podcast providing you with tips and tricks on how to hack your life and maximize its potential. And now for your hosts Mithra maroof and Mahima Lake
as we said, the crisis see
Assalamualaikum Muslim life hackers, this is my Hey Malik here, and in today's episode Mithra, Murph is going to be talking all about perfectionism. All the links and resources mentioned in today's episode can be found in our show notes. A show notes can be found at Mr. Matt Becker's dot com, forward slash 14. That's the number 14. Okay, so let's get started the frog perfectionism, perfection, perfectionist? What does it all mean? Well, that's a really good question you're asking, and it's a good way to start off today's podcast. Well, you know what I'm gonna do, I'm just gonna take the definitions of these words straight out of the dictionary. So in this case, dictionary.com
gave me this definition. So what does perfection mean? The first thing is, some of the definitions that I found there was, its excellent or complete, or complete beyond practical or theoretical improvement. The second definition was entirely without any flaws, or defects or shortcomings. For example, a perfect apple or perfect Chrome. The third definition I found was accurate, exact, or correct in every detail. And the fourth one is confirming absolutely true, the description or definition of an ideal type, for example, a perfect sphere or perfect gentleman, I'm not even sure what that means.
Okay, so basically can't get better than this. Yeah, this is it, there's no improvement. And as for what perfectionism means, according to dictionary.com, it means a personal standard attitude or philosophy that demands perfection, and rejects anything less. And the third word that we asked was perfectionist. So that is a person who demands perfection of himself herself for others. So pretty much it can take out of this. It's, you want everything to be perfect, perfect, perfect, and nothing can improve that. Okay, so how do we know something is perfect? Is there a standard? What is the standard? You see that question? You're asking me, that's exactly where the problem lies. Because
the very problem of perfectionism is that it has no standard, it's impossible to measure it. And this is where all these problems occur. Because as we spoke about in the definition, earlier, perfection means that nothing can get better bit better than that. And that's it. And so, the standard entails that there's there could be something higher, but yes, set threshold precisely, precisely. The reality of when we aim for perfectionism is that, you know, there, there are a lot of things that happens. And one of the thing is that we start a low, because because we notice that we aim low, then we're able to reach it reach that logo perfectly, according to our standard. Okay. And
the second thing is that we start to have this, do it all or do nothing attitude, for example, say that I wanted to, okay, well, look, if I were to look at, like a productivity why, so I start my day, and I plan it really perfectly sounds like during this time to determine him do this, this this. And it's perfect, according to what I believe it to be. And then what happened is, things don't go according to plan life, like, nothing like it does what it does. And even if things come in our way, and, and then what happens is, there's that Oh, my God. So it's like, half the days gone. And then I'm like, okay, so I didn't get my day. Perfect. So there's no use the rest of the rest of
the day and go on with the day. Yeah, yeah, there's no you said, I can do it all. I do do nothing. And actually, this happens to me a lot. So let's do it all or do nothing kind of attitude. And it's quite an internal struggle for me because I work out of a calendar. And I know that you do as well me for where basically, every hour of mine is covered. It's rare to find like an hour where it's blank, and there's nothing kind of scheduled in for that time. Yeah, and when I find that, um, maybe I've slept in in the morning, and I've missed my tasks for the morning. I feel like my day is ruined. I can't do anything else. And it really takes some effort for me to reschedule things. I've
kind of reworked my time. But definitely, there's a struggle of this dual role to nothing kind of attitude that you're speaking about. Yeah. And and it just reminds me of this example, that someone was telling me how, for example, if someone were to give you a basket of apples, for example, and you are left lifting an island and you're starving, and this is basket of apples, but that basket of apples, there are a lot of rotten apples at the top. Would you throw that entire basket away because there's rotten apples at the top or would you take those rotten apples out and do with what's
Left, because you see, this attitude of this perfectionism is that you're either going to eat the apples, or you're going to throw it all away. And there is a middle point, I mean, simply, you can just take it, you know, leave what didn't work out, in, in this case, you know, get over the fact that we work up late get over the fact that, you know, things didn't go according to plan because really, that's that's life. And we got to accept that. And just do with what, like the apples that are left in the basket and the basket. Great, great point. So the basket, so the first thing is that one of the things that the reality of perfection, so because you see, what is the thing is like,
whenever someone says they perfect, it's normally something that they kind of, say out of this a out of like pride. It's like, yeah, I'm, I'm a perfectionist. Yeah. But when people say I'm a perfectionist, it's it's not really the ideal, ideal way to kind of approach things in life. Because
Yeah, because of perfectionist. perfectionism is good in theory, but when it comes when it needs practical life, it doesn't work well. Okay. And yeah, so that's, that kind of explains some of the reality. And some of the things that happens to a person who wants to have it perfect in life is they're very hard on themselves. So there's like, a lot of that nasty talk, like, you know, how we all have self talk. And then we're like an internal dialogue that we have with ourselves. Yes. So when that internal dialogue happens, some some of that some of the things that happen is like when something goes wrong with very hard on ourselves, like, oh, why do you do this? Why don't you do
that? And it's like, and then that in turn makes us fall into, it makes us really sad. Like, we're like, oh, my God, I'm so dumb. Why didn't I do that? Yeah. And that, in turn stops us from trying again. So that's one of the realities of what happens when we aim for perfection is perfectionism. And the final thing that I have here about the reality of perfectionism, although there are much many more points that we can add to this is that we get caught up in the little things that we forget, we forget to look at the bigger picture. Yeah, it's so true. Yeah. So give us an example of something like that. So for, for example, it seems like when we're building a house, for example,
say, see, we're designing the house, and then you start thinking, what, what kind of should the walls be? What kind of decor should I use? What kind of furniture should I use? But you haven't even you know, planned out the actual framework of the house, the bricks are not there. So the bigger picture? Yeah, we look at the bigger picture, because you know that with time, you know, you can work out what the rules are going to be. And you can work out these little details, because that's the main thing done. Yeah. cuz sometimes when you when you get caught in the little details, maybe that house will never be built. Yeah, cuz it was all in imagination. Yeah. Great point in front. So
what if we find that we're falling into some of these realities, realities of perfectionism. Like, for example, we just can't ship that project or task, and we're just getting hung up on all of these things. Without even getting, we just feel so down all the time. What are some of the ways that we can combat this perfectionism? Like, some of the ways we need to combat this whole thing of perfectionism is by realizing, by changing some of our beliefs that we have about this whole thing about the perfect perfectionism. So it's actually an internal thing that we hear, because perfectionism at the end of the day is something that is an internal thing that you mentioned right
now. So we need to kind of rewrite that story. And we have to realize a few things. So the first thing is that, I want you to realize that perfectionism is one of the biggest lies sold to us. That sounds deep, like what do we really mean? Yeah, because you see, like, you see when on TV, in our culture and everything, like there is something like there's a perfect life. There's a perfect man or perfect woman, or there's this whole thing about perfectionism. Yeah, yeah. And it's like, it's the what, what message is given to our subconscious, because as we know, perfectionism is something that's like, an eternal thing is that it keeps telling us that there is something that is perfect,
there is a perfect life out there. There is something there's a concept called perfect perfectionism, that, that there's no such thing as perfectionism is something that we can't reach that and that, I will explain why you're not in my second point, but pretty much you see, you see when we have social media, what it also really reinforces hope, perfectionism as well, because you see, in social media, people would always put like, the better image of themselves, they put the best face, their best face, you know, the smiles in the air. I mean, they, for example, if someone someone can be like, the most boring is waiting, and then they like take like a selfie of
themselves. They're like hat at this wedding by the water and like he and they're like, looking so happy and everyone's like, wow, wow, I wish I was there too. But, um, well, little did I know the reality of the situation, but because social media allows them to put on that perfect face. So yeah, reinforce it reinforces this thing about a perfect life, friend.
As bombarded with all this, this imagery of what we should be like, and when we're not like that, we were like, why? Maybe I should maybe I should be like that. Yeah, we start implementing, I was like, making changes to be more like, for example, the person in the selfie smiling all the time and like, Yeah, why can't I be like that, and the thing we need to realize is that everyone makes mistakes. Everyone has.
You know, with social media, like we put out the best festival, it doesn't mean that these people or actually put out their best face best photos up, they don't have, you know, don't make mistakes themselves. It's not like they have a perfect backstory there. There is always a backstory and and you know, we should also know that people have like different personalities, some people suffer silently. And some people stress silently, they keep their problems to themselves, or to a few and put a good face in public, whereas others might put out their problems on so social media speak about it, we through with people, we also see this in like the products being sold to us as well,
for example, like a beauty company comes out with something in it like, okay, where this cream or, you know, this, this beauty product, or, you know, you can use this kind of tablet, I mean, like these, you know, to like lose weight or something and get the perfect body. I mean, come on, we need to one thing we need to realize is perfectionism is one of the biggest lies sold to us. And we need to accept that this life isn't perfect, and we aren't perfect either. This reminds me of this TV commercials that I've seen in a shopping mall, I could have seen on TV or something. But basically, it was an ad for like a iced coffee drink. And it was this guy who was running in the desert and he
was like about to open this iced coffee drink and like and basically it was like showing that he was like really macho and stuff like that. Is that to take a stupid and like this giant, this guy make an airplane or like a tractor comes and slaps a drink. It was like somewhat guy in an airplane. And basically just enforcing, like, this whole, like, machinist and manliness. Like, if you drink this, you're like, super cool and extreme. And you're like, after doing all these crazy super sports and things like that. Yeah, you have to think like yeah, like drink beers when you will be like this kind of Yeah, so interesting how this consumer society really gets into your head. And when you see
that product on the shelf good. Like, I need that because I want to be like that guy. Yeah. And, and what one of the one of the things that this kind of marketing does is that because it creates like an unrealistic reality of perfectionism. Ultimately, we'll keep running behind that, and we'll never get it because it never existed to start off with. And in the process, it will be, you know, in terms of products, they'll be the one that'll be earning their profits and stuff while we keep running, running, running, running beat behind that running behind something that doesn't exist a perfect life. And, and then, you know, with with regards to people, and what we see online and
everything, we start wondering, oh, what, what and I have that, and it really makes us fall for sad. And it's not it's not very productive. Definitely not. Definitely not. So the second thing we need to realize is that following on to the first point, is that realize that perfectionism is something that only belongs to Allah subhanaw taala. You see this, we, we see this verse, first of all, like, you know, when we, when we learn about Allah, Allah Subhana Allah, we know that he's, we know that he's perfect. And we also see this in his creations as well, for example, in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and we see for, like, when we, when we learn about the Earth's position to
the sun, we know that had the earth been any close to the sun, it will burn, or if it hadn't been any further to the sun, then it will freeze. So we know that there is such perfectionism and intricate details in in creation, and also, for example, the Quran as well, though, the books that we read, we know that the language in and of itself in the Quran, it's so perfect that to this day, no one is able to compete with it. No one can compare. And it's a challenge that is put forward to mankind as well. Yeah, so so so we see that this whole thing about perfectionism is it's, it's not it's not some something for us, it's not something that Allah subhanaw taala has given to us, it's
something that only he has, and only belongs to him. And, and then, you know, speaking about like, true creations so so so we see like some of the creations that are less volatile as credit. And then we come and look at our stuff that we create, for example, like no the first the first computer that was in cousin was invented was like humongous. Yeah, I've actually seen a picture of it took up like a the size of a room. Yeah. And now today, we literally have it on our pockets. And God knows what's what's next. So so we do see that we started off with something and we just keep improving with time. And you know, we'll see another example of imperfection. Like for example, college or
university textbooks. They can never get it right the first time.
I mean, it's like addition, one addition to addition, three just keeps going on. But on the other hand, Allah subhanaw taala you know, the Quran that he sent down, there's only one core and there is no additional one addition to addition three, definitely not really. I mean, so. So when we really think about this examples, we know that only Allah subhanaw taala can be perfect, but we need to see okay, so if he's perfect, what does he expect from us? Because ultimately, our life, we, the way we lead our lives, we have to ask ourselves, what is Allah subhanaw taala asking from us. And in this case, what he's asking from us we can just see when we look into the Quran
and read his words or we can and we can also see by seeing what our Prophet Muhammad Sallallahu wasallam has told us, so Allah Subhana Allah says in this verse, and this one is in Surah mulk all the bloodshed on regime ellaby Hola, moto and hire Talia bola welcome au comb. So Norma wahoo Li Zi is to Lahore for he mentioned, he has created this and like to test you as to see which of us best indeed and in and he is Exalted in Might and the forgiving. I was one of the like in in this verse actually uses the word arson which which which means excellence, the one in best in deeds, he didn't say the one of which which of you is perfect Indeed, he didn't say the one that has like them. Like
the one who does the most deeds here. He says the one of you who's the best indeed. And further on the prophets lavalas alum also
set a hadith in which he said early Allah subhanaw taala has enjoyed excellence to everything. So whenever whenever we do something, we should do it with excellence. So if there's something we can take from this, we can take what Allah subhanaw taala expects from us. And really, when I reflect upon the point that you've just made me for, it just gives me a whole lot of relief that I know that Allah subhanaw taala he is perfect. And I know that I don't have to be perfect. I just have to do my deeds to the best of my ability. And that's what he expects of me. Yeah, really took a big burden off of our shoulders, knowing that he doesn't expect perfectionism from us. And it's just such a big
blessing as well. Yeah, think about it. Yeah, so
pretty much from from from this VC, Allah subhanaw, taala. All they asked us is that we try our best, like, we don't give like half an effort, we try our best, our utmost best. And that actually takes me on to my third, third point. So whenever whenever you're doing a project, whenever you're working on something, all you have to ask yourself is, is this the best I can do? And is it and be very honest with yourself? Because you know, what, what's the best you can do? And we know that what what's the best I can do may not be what the best some somebody else can can do. So we need to compare ourselves to ourselves, and ask yourself, Is this the best? Can I do it better, and we'll be
really honest with ourselves. If we can do it better, then we try to do it better. But then they'll reach a point in which you'd be like, Okay, this is the best I can do. And if that's the case, then move on. Stop getting caught into the details, set yourself a deadline. So you know that by this date, I have to decide if this I have to complete this whole thing, because obviously, cuz one of the things with having a deadline is that we stopped like procrastinating and take it forward, and it helps us get up and shine. Yeah. I mean, for example, like when, as as we're recording these podcasts, we know that, you know, a lot of the podcasts that we're we're doing right now, like
there's so much improvement we can make. Yeah, definitely, really, like it's, and we acknowledge that we know that we are imperfect, and you would have many, many thoughts. But one of one of the things that we ask ourselves is, is this the best we can do right now. And if it isn't that that's it. And on top of that, we also have like very short deadlines as well. So we have like, a day to prepare for it or, or, like it's a really, really tight time, like a deadline that you wish we set for ourselves. So that way we don't get caught up in this whole Oh my God, this whole perfectionism or something, we just give it our best and then get it out there. Yes, just from that point about
making doing the best that you can know that and know that, for example, you're given a task at work. Never. For example, this is also an Amana from God, like you need to be doing your best. For example, like you can't just be doing a half effort a job at at your work. I mean, this this is a trust from God, like God gave you this provision, you need to be making the most of it and really, it's only doing you have to do justice, the things that are given given to you because you don't know like if you ever get that opportunity again. Yeah, so pretty, pretty much just goes goes a bit like the standard Allah subhanaw taala expects from us and that's excellence, whether it be net
deeds, whether it be now work, work projects, because really when we went out
Standard is excellent in when when our standard is that we try our best, it not only gives us a realistic standard, but it also allows us to be like a, like exemplary individuals as we should be as Muslims as we should be. Because we know that we have like two extremes of people, like people don't want to do anything want to do half of work or people who kind of like one have everything perfect, but they can't reach that either. And the middle path, as is like, aiming for what's best. Yeah, which is prescribed for us. Yeah. And so the fourth thing is that when you make a mistake, or things don't go according to plan, you need to ask yourself, How can I do this better next time,
just ask you a question to improve, because the good thing about having a standard of trying your best is that this standard changes with time, and it improves. Whereas something which is perfect, for example, how we were discussing the meaning is that theoretically, you can't get better. Yeah. So if you're aiming for perfectionism, then that means that you will have to, like re explain it, you have to set your standards really low. And because obviously, when you set a really high, it's hard to get it perfect when it's really high, standard low. And also, you can't get better than that. Because that's what perfectionism means. You don't get better than that. But excellence, when
we try our best, it means that it can work, we're actually continuing to get better and better and better. Because that standard of excellence changes with time, this is the thing we need to ask ourselves that would help us improve ourselves. So whenever things don't go according to plan, and this is inevitable, because as humans, we make mistakes, we will make mistakes. But keep in mind that there should be no regrets in the lessons. So for example, yesterday, myself personally, when when I planned out my day, I tried to do work as best as I can. And obviously when I looked in a calendar looked Oh, perfect and stuff. But then the day started and things happen here and there.
Things had to be like shifted. And at the end of the night, I asked myself, okay, what exactly went wrong today, because the day I knew wasn't as productive as I hoped it to be. Because I know that just judging by like, how my days, days good is a certain level that I try to aim for. This is a level that I've set for myself personally. And I found that one day, it was just really low. And it was like, kind of makes you a bit sad. Because things didn't go according to plan. And this is normal as humans, we're going to feel disappointed at ourselves. But when this happens, we ask ourselves, how can I do this better next time. So then, for me personally, what I do is I look out
for the small things in my day. So for example, I looked Okay, so how is the state of my mind? Where my habits out of order? Did I start the morning off at a good pace. And the one thing I found was that that morning, although I did wake up for fudger prayer, and you know, week fudger prayer, I have like a like a routine that can allow me to progress into the day I've had on that day fudger prayer was a bit rushed. And I guess I just just as an observation in order to improve myself, I found that that Okay, so that was that could have played a part in it. So I have to make sure that I don't either delay my sleeping time or really think about the actual activities I have the night
before and make sure that I end up at this time. So it gets to me when you have like a mistake that that happens or things sort of go according to plan. Just reflect upon it. Don't get too caught up caught up and like down and be like oh my god, Doom gloom, things like that. Just take a lesson from it and move on. Precisely precisely take the lesson and move on. I mean, you will if it's like because the thing is you have to ask yourself, How can I be better than yesterday, so yesterday wasn't a good, like wasn't a day that you expect it to be the next day, make it better? And keep improving from there. And you you learned so much out of this? learn so much. Definitely. Awesome.
So what's what's your next point? So the fifth point that I have here is and the system the last point is that please embrace your imperfections and just get out there and give it your best. I mean, like, there was I remember when I was younger I watch this movie, you know that baby robots?
It's a costume. Yeah, yeah.
And this funny thing that one of the characters are saying is like, he's like, never, never tried to say
Oh, yeah. Nice. Never tried to say Oh, well. That's what Yeah, and this is exactly what this internal story of when we want
to like, this is like 111 extreme we can say like, there are the one extreme that says never tried to resell so never try. And so you never fail. But the reality is that if you never troll, you're automatically failing. It's not trying to sell it's never tried and failed. Anyway, yeah, that should be reread that face and then the other extreme, which I spoke about earlier was like, we we keep putting in hours and hours and hours. We get caught up in the small things and then nothing happens after that. So just embrace your imperfections. Just get out there and give it
Your best because really, it's a work in progress. Because as humans, we are in a journey in which we can only get better and better and better with time. And these are these. This is why we need to always focus on making sure that am I trying my best? And how can I improve? So these are these two questions they have to balance between awesome. And just just off that last point that you were mentioning, sometimes that sometimes I find that, for example, when something does go doesn't go according to plan. That's when the best ideas come come to you. Like when your day doesn't go as you had planned it, and you find that something else happens. You're like, wow, this is this could be so
much better, or this such an alternative to the way that I was thinking it can really broaden your, your thinking as well. So if you do find that you have an imperfection, maybe perhaps there's a way that you can capitalize on it. So
that's completely true. I mean, it just sounds like something something that's when we're at like the lowest in our life, we come back even higher than we initially kind of expected. So you see, you see a spring of like you see her is like a spring in a bed and stuff. Like the more you squeeze it down and down and down and down, the more higher it jumps up. Yeah, yeah. And that's exactly what happens in life. Like the more doubt we get in our life, the more high we can jump, like the kind of energy that we will be able to have. Yeah, and like we can learn more things on the way and it's just, it's just amazing possibilities. So have that mindset and change your internal story. Be like
a spring. So do pretty much sum summarize our points. So the first one was perfectionism is one of the biggest lies sold to us to realize that perfectionism is only for Allah subhanaw taala. He's perfect. The third one is that ask yourself the question, is this the best I can do? If yes, then move on. Fourth one, when you make a mistake, or things don't go according to plan, ask yourself how can I do this better the next time? And the fifth one is that embrace your perfectionism imperfections, and just get out there and give it your best. Awesome, great points for for. So if we if we were to take an action point from what you just said, what would it be? Okay, so my action
word would be exactly what my point was. So it's just just get out there, give it give it your best. Now what I end up with a with a quick story, and the story was from the story of our Prophet Musa alayhis salaam. And we all know the story about how he was leading his nation, which was the Benny out of Egypt. And one of the things he did was he he he was actually running away from Egypt and him human his people were faced with like a see. And then what what he was told was to get the stuff which he was carrying and hit the rock and in the sea turned into two and then him and his people actually went through and we know the story about how they went through in the end, they reached the
other side safely. But pretty much from the story. One thing we can take out is that almost want to tala asks us that we try our best we do our part because you see masala Islam, Allah subhanaw taala could have easily just split the sea. Yeah, like it's easy for him. But he asks his prophet to do his part to hit his stick on the rock. Because then after that, the sea split. So and thus This is one thing we need to take in our life, you do your part, you give it your best. And ultimately whatever comes as a result of that is what Allah helps us to do. And I love this assessment. And pretty much that's it. So I mean simply from our life without really would have to make it
complicated. I mean, we just give it our best and have sincere intentions and do it for the sake of Allah. Allah will take care of it. Yeah, just Just do your part of your pie. Awesome. Alright, so that concludes our podcast on professionalism. All right, from time to time, we randomly pick out a city of our listeners and give them a shout out. Now from time to time. I mean like this the first time we're doing it, guys.
This time, we want to give a shout out to our listeners in California from the United States. In case you guys didn't know where California was.
A random fact about California is a state located on the west coast of the United States. More turkeys are raised in California than in any other state in the United States. I don't know how true that is. But it's very interesting.
Okay, so as usual, you can find all the links and resources mentioned in today's episode. She now she knows. She can find that Mr. lifehacker.com forward slash 14. That's the number 14 guys and until next time, take action and be