When they say to you, “Nobody is perfect.”

06 Aug 2019

Have you ever had people say to you, “Nobody’s perfect”?  it’s one of those phrases that should be perfectly harmless.    Still, if that  seemingly harmless phrase/judgement  does not land comfortably with you, you’re not alone in that – and you are not wrong. This week, we need to look at the important if uncomfortable learning – for you – that underpins that “Nobody’s perfect” phrase.

If you are a cinema buff, you will probably recall that “Nobody’s perfect” is the closing line from “Some Like It Hot”. This is Osgood’s reply to the revelation that Daphne, the woman he adores, is actually a man (Tony Curtis). As the final credits rolls, Daphne is nonplussed.  His/her attempt to get Osgood to see him/her as the human being that he/she is has failed utterly. Daphne might as well have saved his/her breath.

The problem with the phrase “Nobody’s perfect.”

That is the problem with the “Nobody’s perfect” phrase. You would not use it to justify your own – alleged – failings for one simple reason, you don’t justify your own failings.  That is not how you operate.  Rather you shoulder the blame for no end of problems that are not your fault.  As someone whose people-pleasing habit is way above average while your self-worth may well be correspondingly below you, you simply don’t make allowances for yourself.  Nor do you expect other people to do so.

The appeal for validation

Instead, you invest your hope and trust in explaining your situation to others, as honestly as you can,  and hoping that they will see you in a favorable light. You depend on their validation to unlock the door to  validating yourself.

Unfortunately, one of the key laws of emotional abuse is Murphy’s Law which states, simply, that “anything that can go wrong will go wrong”.  Validation sits right there at the top of the list of things that can go wrong.   You appeal for validation when you most need it.  However, that is exactly when you are least likely to find it. Murphy’s Law in action.

Why does being at a low ebb make you so susceptible to Murphy’s Law? Why, when you are desperately in need  of a helping hand,  as you try to extricate yourself from an abusive relationship  does your likelihood of receiving brickbats go right up?

Why Murphy’s Law kicks in

Why should that be the case?

A number of factors likely contribute to this wretched experience.  These include,

  • Your abuser’s public persona may well be more credible and engaging than yours. Abusers are much better at playacting (aka insincerity) than you are.  Plus, they constantly wound and drive you crazy.  So, chances are, you are feeling pretty terrible.  One way or another that will lead to a disconnect between you and outsiders.
  • Since an abuser works at isolating you from the people who love and support you, the people that you end up around may well be a part of the abuser’s extended fan club (inasmuch as they have one).
  • You may well need to work on a more realistic appraisal of other people.

Towards a more realistic appraisal of other people

Emotional abuse estranges you from who you really are.  An abuser projects an image of you as pretty much everything that they find unattractive, unlovable and damaged. They brainwashes you into believing that image.  So, you end up losing sight of who you really are.

The more you take on this toxic projection, the more you become dependent on other people, third parties,  to fill that void where your sense of self should be. It is almost as if you look to other people to reparent you in a positive sense.  Because you have lost the capacity to do that for yourself.

Now, you are the kind of person who feels a duty of care for others.  You cannot walk on by on the other side when someone is in deep distress.  Plus, you like to believe that other people are like you.

After all, you are – in your own eyes – absolutely nothing special.

Unfortunately, there are times in your life when reality can conflict with a misguided but honorable belief such as the inherent goodness of everyone.  Of course, when that happens, the casualty is you.  Every time.

The Compassion Deficit

Some people suffer from a grave Compassion Deficit – that is the most charitable a way of putting it that I know.  When you appeal to them for the compassion that you deserve, they respond as defensively as if you had asked them for a large, totally unsecured loan.  They don’t hear you or see you.  All that they register is that you are taking from them something that they cannot afford to give you.  That leaves you with one more difficult  problem to add to your already heavy load.

How you feel – and what you do – about people who are… wrong-hearted?

Especially if you have been through the hell of an abusive relationship or two, you need to believe in the fundamental goodness of people.  Unfortunately, this is precisely when the Universe chooses to remind you that not everybody is a good person.

Some people get a kick out of being nasty.  They get their kicks out of kicking people when they are down. Quite how personal that behavior is, only you can decide.

The scumbag issue

In my more charitable moments, I tend to opt for the idea that they just can’t help themselves.  In my less charitable moments, I simplify things and remind  myself that some people are just scumbags.  Despite that,  I still retain my belief in the goodness of good people.

You have to decide what feels right and appropriate for you. But you also have to learn to keep yourself emotionally safe around other people. As an adult, you have to safeguard your own emotional well-being.  You can no longer afford to make blanket assumptions that people are good and just hope for the best..

Not least because, at the extreme end of scumbagginess, you find the so-called Flying Monkeys. (The term comes from The Wizard of Oz and is used, particularly, in relationship to the Narcissist’s henchpeople.)   Flying Monkeys are, to put it nicely, the toxic person’s little helpers.  They align themselves with your abuser because they believe it serves their interests better.  Certainly, that alignment does not serve their humanity.

Decoding the shorthand

In the end, the people who feel entitled to inform you, out of their – self-professed – infinite wisdom, that “nobody is perfect” sit somewhere along the scumbagginess scale. That pat little phase is scumbaggy shorthand for,

“I’m not listening to what you are saying.  Your situation is not important. It’s certainly not important to me.  You’re only in this mess in the first place because of what you have done wrong. At the very least, a good 50% of the blame is yours. But, honestly, the person you are saying these awful things about is such a nice person that I don’t suppose they bear any of the blame, at all. Whereas you’ve already admitted to me that you aren’t the best thing since sliced bread.  So, it’s obvious that you are a whole lot worse than you are making out.”

However you cut it, that kind of approach is toxic.  Above all, it is toxic to you.  You can’t stop toxic “other people” coming out with their poison. Nor can you change their minds.  All you can do is leave them to get on with spreading their poison without engaging with them.

Don’t let “other people” drip their poison in your ear

Nobody is perfect.  So what? The people who tell you that to undermine you even further, aren’t telling you anything you didn’t already know. People are born, live and die imperfect.  So what?   The people who use that truism as a stick to beat you with are toxic.  They have no right to your ear.  Stay away from them.  You will be a whole lot happier.  You deserve that happiness.

Toxic other people don’t deserve your attention. They will always find another ear they can drip their poison into.  Don’t give them access to yours anymore.


Annie Kaszina, international Emotional Abuse Recovery specialist and award-winning author of 3 books designed to help women recognise and heal from toxic relationships so that they can build healthy, lasting relationships with the perfect partner for them, blogs about all aspects of abuse, understanding Narcissists and how to avoid them and building strong self-worth. To receive Annie’s blog direct to your Inbox just leave your details here.

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