Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Confessions of a Recovering Perfectionist

I like things Perfect. Just so. As I imagined them. The dictionary defines perfect as: "excellent or complete beyond practical or theoretical improvement" "entirely without flaws, defects or shortcomings". So there really are very few things absolutely perfect and yet I strive and drive myself bonkers trying to get there. In fact, my quest for perfection can so paralyze me that I don't even attempt a project, knowing that I won't achieve the level of perfection I require. It can really stink because projects don't get started or finished because of this foible of mine.

Ok, the title of the post stresses a recovering perfectionist. Below are 3 things that have helped me in my quest to recover from my dreaded perfection obsession.

1. Accept (truly and fully ... it might require counseling) that I am imperfect. Yes, I realize most other people know I'm imperfect. But I'm a prideful person and strive for perfection in all that I do. It leads to thinking such as I don't measure up to my own standards, so I can't love myself, so how can others love me and on and on. Or maybe its the other way .. if I'm perfect people will love me. I think this will be a lifelong lesson with daily practice needed and as I mentioned lots of counseling! Knowing you have a problem is the first step.

2. Commit to being your authentic self (in Dr. Phil speak). After acceptance comes commitment. Don't play a part. People want to get to know ME not the me playing the part of who I think a perfect person would be. If I play the perfect role long enough I can forget who I really am - my authentic self. It can be very scary to take the mask off and show the world all my flaws (many just imagined I'm sure due to that darn P word).

3. The galloping horse rule. This one is less emotional and more practical. When I was in upholstery school I (again) was struggling with my perfectionism. I remember an instance where I was trying to get the last little wrinkle out of the dust skirt (the usually black fabric on the underside of your upholstery). Yes, the bottom where nobody ever looks. After an hour or two (!!) working exclusively on that darn wrinkle on the underside of a wing chair my instructor finally got fed up with me and told me "if you can't see it from a galloping horse from across the room it is good enough". I was appalled at the time. However there is such a release with this rule. Tension and strife melts away. With practice I can now apply this rule to some areas (not perfect yet .. oops!) of my life. When I'm getting bogged down, my friend Alison will scream at me "galloping horses, galloping horses!" and I snap back to my imperfect yet pleasant reality.

1 comment:

  1. lol, I am TOTALLY loving the "galloping horse" rule and will remember this to help me with my own issues! :)


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