What can you be imperfect around?
For many of my clients, addiction to perfectionism is a painful, even debilitating struggle. Personally too – wow, do I know this one.
Sitting before my laptop one recent evening, late-day shadows starting to fall, I opened my to-do list and contemplated home and work projects.
Nothing was particularly pressing. Spending time on any one of them could have been easy, light. Or I could have taken the evening off.
Instead, I defaulted to “perfectionist doing mode.” Before long, I’d turned small, simple to-do’s into elaborate undertakings.
Sometimes the pull to do 110 percent in all things is fantastic, exciting and fun.
Other times, not so much.
For one, going above and beyond in ALL things for EVERYONE just isn’t possible.
To do things fully, in a fully present way, we have to choose – not only what to do, but where to let up. Where to be good enough rather than perfect.
For another, there’s usually something else we’re stuffing down or ignoring – something beneath the surface longing for attention. Fear, pain or sadness, perhaps. Maybe the belief: “I’m not enough.”
If we keep doing what we’re doing with a clenched grip and without pause, we’re practicing profound unkindness toward that thing needing attention – to that part of ourselves.
Not because it’s “bad” or we’re “bad,” but because sitting with it feels so uncomfortable. Far easier (and more familiar) to stay busy, tackling to-do’s with perfectionist fervour.
Some part of us is trying to fix things – including ourselves. Problem is, we’re neglecting the real wound. And, with all that perfectionist doing, we’re perpetuating a painful, debilitating cycle.
How do I work with this?
With clients and myself, one place is practicing purposeful imperfection, asking:
What is it okay to be imperfect around? Where is it okay to be “good enough”?
The “purposeful” part is important. It’s the difference between imperfect and sloppy. It’s a difference that has to do with care.
If you struggle with “good-enough-ness,” I encourage you to give purposeful imperfection a try.
- How might you do a little less with the same (or more) care?
- Where could you bring a softer touch?
- What is it okay to be imperfect around?
And when you’re ready…
- Is this sort of practice – the practice of “good enough” – uncomfortable? How so?
- What’s all that “perfectionist doing” really about anyway?
Get curious. Try easy.
Hold it all – especially your heart – with tenderness.
(And please share your experiences, if you’d like!)