I don’t know if you have noticed that since we were young, the matter of “striving for excellence in everything” has never disappeared around us.
When a child loses in competition with his friends, the parents will say, “It’s because you didn’t work hard that you lost to others.” When the child’s grades are average, the parents will casually say, “Why are other people’s grades so good?” It can make a child so frustrated that he cannot speak, and the seeds of inferiority and jealousy will slowly sprout.
When children grow up and enter the workplace, they find it very difficult to maintain interpersonal relationships. Parents will say, “Why are you so stupid? You can’t even maintain interpersonal relationships well.” These so-called “not excellent” are feedback from the external world – parents to their children. It’s like it’s not you who has the final say whether you’re good or not, but it’s them who decide.
Why can’t children resist being judged this way? Because in these feedbacks there is a deep connection and identification between them and their parents, and there is a child’s love for their parents. Children will do whatever they can to get the love of their parents.
A girl told me her story. Every time she won a prize in a competition, her parents were very happy, but then they would say: “It would be great if you could win the first prize, we would be even happier.” So, in order to make her parents happy, she continued to work hard, and her parents went even further. She is required to win first prize at the district level, city level, provincial level, or even national level.
She worked very hard to win the provincial award, but she couldn’t win the national award. She found that her parents were disappointed, and she was very depressed because of it, and even hated herself, why she was so bad. Even though she is already quite outstanding in the eyes of her classmates, what she sees is always “I am not good enough”. She has low self-esteem and is sensitive. She was afraid of seeing the disappointment in other people’s eyes.
These all come from the influence of her parents on her. If a child becomes an outstanding child in their parents’ eyes, the parents will be happy; if a child fails to become an outstanding child, the parents will be disappointed. Excellent and not excellent seem to be defined in this constantly changing expression.
This girl keeps running forward in order to become an “excellent child” in the eyes of her parents. Only in this way can she continue to connect with the beautiful parts of her parents’ hearts. When she sees her parents disappointed or even distant from her, it feels like something good has been ruined.
Every child is in great need of “good parents”, which is crucial to their psychological development. In order to get “good parents”, they will pursue excellence and unknowingly form a very demanding superego personality. They will demand themselves and the people around them to be excellent.
When someone around them is not outstanding, they will also behave like their parents, showing disgust and disappointment. In their hearts, they can only accept that they are successful and strong, and words such as “failure” and “weak” must not appear. How about it? You all sound nervous, right? At least for me, if there is someone around me who pursues excellence so much, I will be very stressed.
When there is only one upward channel in life, people will not go anywhere at ease. Even if he is extremely good and has gained a lot of confidence from this state, he will still feel that he is limited.
There was a man who was born into a wealthy family, and every step of his growth was planned. He went to prestigious schools and studied abroad. His parents are very eager for him to inherit the family business and pass it on. But he was terrified at the thought of succeeding his father at the helm of the family business.
He is depressed.
He said that he was very afraid that he was not good enough and would not be able to keep the family wealth. Not to mention surpassing his father, it was impossible to even be on par with his father. He said that to outsiders, his educational journey seemed smooth, but in fact he struggled to study. Even when he entered a prestigious school, his grades were always at the bottom of his class, and he had to retake courses before he could graduate. He likes music, but his parents feel that with such a large family business requiring him to take care of, he cannot study art and can only study finance.
His wish was not supported. When he was in pain, others thought he was hypocritical: “Your family is so rich, what else are you dissatisfied with?” It seemed that he didn’t even have the right to be sad. The man said that he had no voice since he was a child, and all the goals his family set for him were to train him to be an excellent successor. They were willing to spend money on him, but they didn’t know him at all. When he doesn’t do well enough, his parents will be unhappy and beat or scold him. This scared him so much that sometimes, he even doubted whether they were his biological parents.
The reason why this man is depressed is because he does not live for himself and he does not dare to live for himself. Because he feels that he is not good enough, he can only live on the biological level and cannot get the nourishment of life.
Parents will belittle and beat their children for various reasons. Once they don’t see good results, they will panic and put pressure on their children. In this situation, the child develops a false self.
The false self, as the name suggests, is wearing a mask and living your life as others expect you to. They hide the truest part deep in their hearts and never show it to others easily.
Although children with false selves will still work hard in the direction expected by their parents, they will feel like a carriage stuck in the mud, and they will become less and less able to exert themselves.
Having said this, I feel a little sad. Which child is not full of energy when he first comes into the world? They are so dependent on their parents and give themselves over without reservation. The normal situation is that when children go through the stage of complete dependence on their parents, they will get a lot of encouragement, support, and self-confidence through dependence, which gives them the strength to face separation from their parents and move toward true independence.
However, if the child is not fully satisfied during the dependence stage, he will have difficulties during separation, and as a result, he will not be able to become a truly independent person. Just like the man in the above case, he is unable to shoulder the responsibility of inheriting the family business.
Terrible self-attacks will also come like a tidal wave. This kind of self-deprecation happens to be taught by parents. What child doesn’t need the admiration and approval of his parents? If parents only look at the results and fail to see their children’s efforts in the process, and just scold them blindly, they are undoubtedly destroying their children.
If parents have the opportunity to awaken and grow, they will gain a harmonious parent-child relationship. If your parents have never changed, I hope that as a child, you will have the courage to recognize the reality and live bravely for yourself.
Of course, we are not rejecting excellence. If you really enjoy excellence, get a lot of fun from it, and even become more and more creative, then please enjoy it. The situation I am talking about here is a kind of excellence that is pursued in a way that excessively consumes oneself. This is a kind of self-injurious excellence. This approach is very heavy, exhausting and doesn’t really nourish us.
If you have been unable to stop pursuing excellence, often making yourself exhausted, or even becoming pessimistic and world-weary, then I ask you to stop and think about it, is this really the excellence you want? It would be so sad if a person is only good for others. Real excellence must come from the heart. In the process of pursuing excellence, you will not feel so wronged or so hard, but you will enjoy the process of pursuing excellence.
Excellence is a place where life will arrive. As long as the soil is prepared and the climate is suitable, the seeds will grow on their own.
In the process of pursuing excellence, we often fall into the thinking trap
Why do people pursue the so-called “super excellence”, even at the cost of losing themselves? Because there are huge benefits behind “super excellence”. For example, if I am good, I can get everything I want; if I am good, my parents will love me.
You see, these are the things people want – material things, dignity and love. But few people know that the more you pursue excellence, the easier it is to fall into some thinking traps.
Trap 1: As long as I am good enough, I can get everything I want.
Is this true? Does excellence equal having everything you want?
There is a boy named Xiaopeng who has been among the best in school since childhood. After returning from studying abroad, he went to work in a well-known design company with a high salary. But for a while, Xiaopeng couldn’t go to work and was so depressed that he couldn’t live a normal life. The event that triggered all this was that a new designer came to the company. He had no background in studying abroad, but the products he designed were very distinctive and he quickly gained a good reputation in the company.
Once, an important client needed a very memorable design. The company asked both Xiaopeng and the new designer to produce design drawings. In the end, the client chose the work of the new designer, which gave Xiaopeng a big blow. He began to doubt whether he was really good. He has always been going smoothly like the proud man of heaven, but he did not expect to be defeated by a new colleague who was not as highly educated as him.
All along, because of his excellence, the child has received a lot of honors, praises, appreciation and envy. He got into a very good school by his own ability, and everything he wanted seemed to be given to him by fate, but he encountered a failure in this matter. It is difficult for him to accept this fact because what he has always believed is “as long as I am good enough, I can get everything I want.”
Reality impacted Xiaopeng’s narcissism. He used to get wind and rain, which made him quite confident in his abilities. These self-confidences became part of his narcissism, and gradually turned into a feeling that he could do anything. The occurrence of this incident gave him the opposite message: no matter how good you are, you can’t get everything you want.
Unable to accept the reality, he was trapped in the frustration of his narcissistic injury and was unable to work. After receiving professional intervention, he was able to return to work.
The fantasy of excellence has been rising in the world of narcissism until it is hit by reality and finally falls to the ground.
Excellence, of course, allows people to obtain more resources, this is undeniable. But this does not mean that people can have everything they want through excellence.
Trap 2: Only excellence will make me worthy of living.
Some parents will instill some very terrible concepts in their children. For example, if you are not excellent, you do not deserve to live. This concept is extremely destructive. Imagine how you would feel when someone stronger than you, someone you have always relied on, said to you, “If you are not good, you don’t deserve to live.”
The TV series “Cold Case” tells a heartbreaking crime story. Lin Hui has been “someone else’s child” since she was a child. She has outstanding appearance, excellent talents and abilities, is obedient and sensible, and has excellent conduct and learning. When she was 18 years old, she was admitted to a prestigious university with a bright future. I thought her story would develop perfectly like this, but who would have expected that after the college entrance examination, the day after she got the admission notice, she ran away from home.
Lin Hui longs for freedom and does not want to be fettered by the life path planned by her father, nor does she want to endure her father’s high standards and strict requirements. She wanted to change, but the wandering life was extremely difficult. She was deceived by bad people and came to a romantic place to sell her body for a living. And her father saw Lin Hui “with her head held high” on a TV news about the fight against pornography and illegal activities.
He found Lin Hui’s residence, scolded her for being disgusting, and even angrily disliked her and said: “If this is the kind of life you want, you might as well die now.” He could not understand Lin Hui’s inner situation, let alone tolerate it. The daughter he had cultivated was so depraved. In a fit of rage, he strangled his daughter to death.
Until the end, the father still said in a very regretful tone: “What a perfect work Lin Hui was.” This is a sad and angry story. In the play, the message that Father Lin conveys to his children is “If you are not excellent, you do not deserve to live.” One can imagine the fear that Lin Hui lived in during her 18 years of life. She has a deep sense of debt, as if her parents have given her life and raised her, and she must repay them. As long as her parents put forward conditions, she must satisfy them.
So when her parents put forward requirements such as “You must listen to me, you must follow my requirements, you must be excellent, you must be perfect; otherwise, you will wait to be humiliated, you are not worthy of being my child”, she also must be satisfied. This is of course a projection of the parents’ inner script, but young children have no ability to jump out of this huge vortex. They can only obey and strive to be the best in order to qualify for “survival.”
Lin Hui fulfilled her father’s dream of going to a prestigious university when she was 18 years old. She thought she could finally live the life she wanted. Although she didn’t know what life was like outside, she didn’t want to continue living the life her father had planned for her, so she worked hard to jump out of this vortex. Father Lin put all his inner hatred for depravity and contempt for excellence into the hands that strangled the child’s neck. He really believes that “if you are not excellent, you do not deserve to live.”
The work he created called “Daughter” not only brought him glory, but also brought him shame. Deep in his heart, his daughter is not a person, she is just a work and a tool. If you also have such a strong sense of shame and want to die if you think you are not good, then you may have fallen into the thinking trap of “if you are not good, you do not deserve to live.” You need to learn to recognize these pitfalls, and you need to understand that that is not the path you should take, nor should it be your responsibility.
Trap Three: As long as I am good enough, my parents will love me.
Many people feel that they do not get the love from their parents because they are not good enough. This of course also has something to do with the signals sent by parents. For example, if you get high marks in the exam, your parents will praise you and buy you your favorite toys; if you win a prize, they will smile; if you greet your neighbors politely, they will be even more pleased, and so on.
If you don’t get high marks, win awards, or say hello to your neighbors, they scold, judge, and blame you. It is easy for children to think that their parents will love me only if I behave well. this is not right. We should understand: Love is that no matter what I do, you will never leave me, instead of once I do something that makes you dissatisfied, you will change your appearance and make me feel that you have left me go.