Ignorance is bliss. When I started on this self-awareness journey I didn’t know what I know now. And I have worked on myself. Really worked on uncovering who I am, what the things that hold me back are, and am working at cleaning up that energy to help me continue to move forward. And now faced with this topic of perfectionism, I want to go back to the blissful unawareness and lack of work. I am uncomfortable with the topic. Uncomfortable is an understatement.
I sat down to write this post yesterday. Bring it. And then I read the topic. Wind knocked out of my sails. The topic is not just around perfectionism but around looking instead at what I do perfectly to offset the gremlin called perfectionism. Writer’s block and immediate tightening of the chest upon reading the task ahead. Hmmmmm. This is definitely triggering something for me. My husband asks if I’ve written my blog. I tell him I need space to contemplate. I can’t write it. I don’t have anything I do perfectly. He answers “wow, you’re crazy, you are the most selfless person I know. You have a topic.” Interestingly, it’s heartfelt and I know from his eyes meant as praise and yet it triggers me more because now I am feeling like my progress at remembering to fill my cup first is not on track. Lots bubbling to the surface here. It’s time to go back and clean out that energy.
I use the ancient Hawaiian tool of forgiveness called Ho’oponopono. It’s simple and yet when applied properly, incredibly powerful for restoring your internal harmony and bringing inspiration. The essence of the practice is that whatever comes up in my awareness is a reflection of stuck memories, patterns, or belief systems (literally BS). Much of it likely comes from my upbringing. The beauty of it is that for it to be effective I don’t need to analyze to death where it comes from or why, I simply need to realize it’s a program I no longer want and be ready to release it. It requires me to focus on the energy of what is stirring inside me and not the person or situation that triggered me. With that inward focus I then repeat and say to myself these 4 phrases:
- I love you
- I am sorry
- Please forgive me
- Thank you
The intent is to cleanse the old pattern (or patterns) that do not suit me. It’s said from a place of love as though I were talking to my best friend. It’s not meant to trigger guilt, just awareness, self love and willingness to let go of what doesn’t suit me. This is just a quick synopsis, you can learn more about this practice in Joe Vitale‘s book “Zero Limits“.
So after a night of cleaning I sit down to tackle why perfectionism and doing things perfectly is a process.
I have spent many years tackling perfectionism. In my late teens I actually embraced this. I was proud. I had been brought up on the idea that “If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing well“. And then somewhere along the way “well” was replaced with “perfect”. After all perfect was better than well. The first time I was challenged on my philosophy was with a psychiatrist I was seeing at the time for, go figure, anxiety over school and getting perfect grades for university with a nasty little side dish of bulimia. I remember him clearly challenging my notions of a bar set ridiculously high for myself when I was far more compassionate with my expectations of my peers. He said “What makes you so special that you hold yourself to standards above everyone else?” That stung. On a lot of levels. I hated him for it. How dare you tell me I think I am superior? Don’t you get it? I am trying to do this to be at the same level as everyone else. Just to get to good enough. The delivery was mean. I couldn’t hear it and see it for what he was trying to get at. It stuck around though.
In early career when asked in interviews what are you strengths, I would proudly boast “perfectionism”. I came later to realize that this perfectionism came with a darkside of fear of trying or doing something in case it wouldn’t be perfect. It stifled my creativity and really resulted in performance at par. Perfectionism started being my answer to “what’s your weakness” after a while.
I worked on perfectionism a lot. To combat it for me has come with the notion and acceptance of good enough for now. Accepting that doing something is moving forward. And forward no matter how small the step is better than paralyzed in the need to be perfect. I keep going back to the book, “The Four Agreements” by don Miguel Ruiz. The fourth agreement is “Do your best”. What I love about this idea is that it allows for the fact that depending on the day my energy is different roadblocks are different. So it is compassionate in that the only realistic expectation is that in each moment I do the best I can do. I am not perfect at yoga. But I am better for going to class and being vulnerable and learning. I am not perfect at meditation there are days my mind wanders and I can’t quiet the chatter. And there are also days where 30 minutes of bliss has gone by and I am at peace. The point is embracing the good enough.
So here’s the struggle. I have spent all this time retraining, and reframing to take perfect out of my language. To remove the notion of needing to be perfect as a program with unrealistic expectations from my awareness. So now to consider what I do perfectly seems to contradict all the self-love I have been giving myself to be compassionate in what I do.
That’s it! LOVE! Thank you Ho’oponopono! I see it so clearly now. My perfect comes from being in love with what I am doing in the moment. Being fully present and there, not focused elsewhere. Those moments are bliss. I dare say perfection.
- Showing up for people and holding space for them
- Doing healings for myself and others.
- Writing this blog
- Trying inversions in Yoga class
- Slicing a mango (that pit can be tricky)
- Having conversations with my kids or hubby or friends or coworkers
- Savouring a meal
- Shovelling snow
- etc etc etc
In that moment when my focus is completely present, that is love. And love, love is perfect.
I am warm all over at this notion. I am grateful for having gone through the yucky exploration. I feel liberated. I am in the moment. I feel love. Self-love! Perfect.