In the perfectionist Olympics, no one wins. Any gold, silver, or bronze is only illusory, just out of reach when one could “always do better.”
Speaking as a “still-struggling, but-recovering” perfectionist: one who’s proud to say it’s not something I want to be, I recently had a day where it reared its head. I must have thought of every silly other thing I could do instead of what it was I needed to do right then. Why the procrastination? I didn’t know where to start, how to make it good, how to know what I was doing, was I doing it the right way, and would it be acceptable. “Ugh,” pretty much summed up my feelings.
The philosopher, Voltaire, is widely credited with the saying, “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” I find it true to remember that oftentimes good enough is fine. Years ago, a friend of mine and I got through a heinously obtuse graduate school course by remembering that all that mattered was that we did “good enough” and that would be more than fine.
Sometimes a small action in the direction you want to be going is all that’s needed to get you out of your funk. Today my body hurt and I was taking an online class instead of teaching one. At one point, when people were writing, I turned my camera off, turned my chair all the way around and sat up on my knees on the seat, kneeling on the seat bottom and leaning over the back of the chair. I typed that way for the rest of class. It was a small movement, but it made a world of difference for that short time. I wasn’t wildly more comfortable, but it was enough to change my environment for that period of time and it helped offload some hip and back discomfort. And that small movement led to another one, which led to another and got me to start in on small section of a project that I’d been putting off.
Just starting is a big one for many of us. Especially recently. I remember a cartoon I had pinned into a wall of my stick hut when I was in the U.S. Peace Corps in the Central Pacific country of Kiribati. The cartoon had a girl walking back and forth on a diving board. In the first few frames, the girl just paces back and forth, “should I jump, should I not, should I jump, should I not?” In the final frame, there she is, this girl diving off the board into the swimming pool beneath her. And the caption reads, “One day I just decided to leap. And I was GREAT.”
You can talk it out with someone whose advice you value, but in the end, the one who must choose the next first step, or the next right thing is YOU. Choosing to do something that feels big and overwhelming, in spite of perfectionism or other fears or concerns, is courageous.
We cannot get to our mission in life via competition, comparison, nor being overly concerned with if we will be perfect, super spectacular, or amazing. These concerns can destroy us. It’s good to try hard to do your best. Perfectionists crush themselves and their self-worth by being harsh and by not accepting themselves. Nothing grows well with harshness.
Consequently, if I don’t love myself the way I am with something I want to work on, it’s very hard to give that type of full acceptance and love to others. Which is why I’ve seen this as part of my life’s work to try to work on positively moving the needle back to kind, by trying to be less hard on myself, by giving others grace, by working to spread joy. When you feel calm and happy and more joyful inside, you also radiate that out in the world around you. Sometimes just take the next simple, small action and feel it’s okay to jump off the diving board, even if you do a belly flop.
Believe it’s okay to make a mistake and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. It shows you’re human! A person who is afraid to make a mistake is afraid to grow. Learning to embrace all parts of myself and finding a way to be okay with myself in the face of mistakes or not getting it “perfect” just shows self-forgiveness and compassion and allows one to be fully present and human with others. To have true self-worth, we must believe we’re worthy for being alive and trying to be good, not because of our accomplishments alone.
What do you do to try to stay focused on keeping a healthy perspective on life these days? Do you have your own positive thinking notebook or do you find other ways to ingest moments of hope and calm and kindness into your day and your mindset? One thing you can do is to write down a list of “good things I’ve done today” and then try to reread it later on before bed. Write down those things that were true kindnesses to yourself or others, even if they seem small to you. By focusing on these good things, I see that I dwell on the good and, by dwelling on the good, I nurture it and grow it in my life.
Here at joyfestivalindustries.com, we continue to lead writing and crafting workshops, as well as creating and selling handmade cards, all of which feeds our soul and helps us feel we’re reaching out and helping others. We’d love to have you share with us your thoughts on this post, or reach out with any questions to [email protected] . May 2022 bring you a heaping spoonful of self-compassion, kindness, inner strength, hope, joy and increased goodness and self-love. Thanks and stay well!😊