{perfectly imperfect} one

it was only a few years ago that i realized i might be struggling with perfectionism.

it happened when i started teaching at a school which had posters everywhere that said "it's ok to make a mistake."

as i started learning the value of this simple idea and teaching it to my students, i slowly became aware of a voice and a way of being within me that was perfectionism. as i noticed this voice, i found out that it was intense, frequently present, and quite damaging...

once i opened up to this idea, i started to become aware of all the ways this perfectionist chatter was hurting me as a person and as an artist.

in fact, i've been thinking about writing a series on perfectionism for at least a year. i have a whole folder of articles saved, a long list of ideas to write, and a huge amount of experience that i want to share.

and yet, i keep putting it off because i think i need to organize it, refine it, plan it, polish it, and...well, perfect it.

isn't that such delightful irony? it fits right in with "making a to-do list chalkboard" perpetually being on my to-do list...

{elizabeth webb via greyscale territory}

this morning, my perfectionist voice was active. one of the ways it functions is that it starts in with the "not good enough" script. it says things like, "you didn't get up as early as you should have. why didn't you plan your morning differently? you should have done this task yesterday. wow, you aren't doing enough and there isn't enough time and nothing is ever enough blah blah blah..."

in the middle of this stream, i suddenly noticed the voice and i said the following out loud: "stop. everything is fine. there is no problem right now. stop making drama. all is well."

and it stopped.

i noticed it, got present, and my whole morning shifted.

in this exchange, i realized that i wanted to launch imperfectly into my series on perfectionism.

today. right away. now.

so here i am.

i don't know how often i will write about it, i don't know exactly how i plan to share it, and i'm not totally certain i will be able to communicate it the way i have envisioned.

but as your devoted innkeeper, i have to follow my heart...

and my heart says: start talking about your journey with perfectionism.

one of the goals of the inn is to create a magical place to unwind, talk about life, ponder, rejuvenate.

thus, i would like to know...have any of you dealt with perfectionism?

i am officially opening up this conversation and letting it breathe amongst the shimmering walls of the inn.



Anonymous said...

oh, don't get me started!!! I'm not sure if what I'm struggling with it typical perfectionism. I don't expect to be perfect with everything, on the contrary. but when it comes to my life and me as a person I'm a lot like you. I should have... could have... why didn't I... bla bla. it's horrible. I spend so much time overthinking and analyzing why I didn't or don't do things the way I think they should be done instead of just starting to change right then and there. it's ridiculous. but it's getting better. it's a work in progress.

there is some good books out there. I guess you are familiar with Mr Tolle, but have you read Brene Brown: The gifts of imperfection. I meant to write a litte review about it for about two months now, but of course everything I came up with so fare wasn't good enough yet ;)

I'm really looking forward to how much or how little you have to write about your experiences with perfectionism. might give me some insight into what's going on inside me ;)


Monica said...

i wrote a lot about perfectionism a year or so ago. i see many bloggers writing about it. it's one of the big 7 'Shadows' (my term) so it's certainly common.

it's a struggle of a lifetime. i'm glad that i managed to heal before i turned 40, but it always lurks.

as you can see from a previous post, i embrace those perfect imperfections now. :)


beka*b said...

Tell me about it! I struggle with being the perfect mom, perfect blogger, perfect wife, perfect artist/crafter, perfect biz owner (yeah, remember that one?), perfect housewife, perfect bohemian (??!!) etc... But I also know that no-one can be perfect at everything in equal proportions all the time.

I think a large part of the problem is that we have been conned into this idea of perfectionism via media and social 'illusion'. To try to be this utopian 'perfect' we take on too many tasks at once and then wonder why we struggle with juggling it all, perfectly :) I think the only solution is to have any army of clones that could be dedicated to each role we wish to play perfectly *lol!*

Looking forward to hearing your (more practical) solutions and insights into this matter - all help will be appreciated ;)

Krystal said...

I will be interested to read what you write on this! i think perfectionism can be so daunting..i feel like one and then i'm always disappointed because something is perfect but...i think it would be way healthier to let it go.

keishua said...

Perfectionism is a struggle of mine, too. I was just using the technique that you mentioned in your post because I was worried about a million and one things. Perfectionism is such a joy stealer. I would love for you to do a series about it.

BeccaJ said...

Oh yes, the lifelong struggle! I also look forward to what you have to share about your journey. A wise friend of mine often asked, "Why are you still 'should-ing' all over yourself?"

Anonymous said...

can't wait to read more, my dear. perfectionism is one of Fear's wiliest disguises. thank you for the inspiration to interrupt 'The Voice' and get on with it already (whatever 'it' is)

Lynn {hearted girl} said...

Diane, this piece is truly breathtaking! however you built on this idea/realization, the results have ended up perfect in my eyes! i've gone through such a similar challenge, it's one of the reasons i pondered a blog for about 2 years before actually starting one. gosh, how it puts you off course and plants insecurity seeds along the way.

you've nailed it all with this provocative post, i appreciate the time and energy it took to write and your open forum of discussion about our experiences too.

one of my ideas for a "i'd like to do this someday" is taking an improvisation course. i think it would be really helpful for my brain to not question but just do, act & be. i'm terribly afraid i'd fail at it miserably though but hope for the courage to concur it. you've strengthened me a bunch by reading this, i thank you! can't wait to read more. ♥

pea ess: thank you also for the most loving comment you left on my mantra post, bless you. xo

Emily said...

This post came at the perfect (ha!) time for me. I've been thinking about starting a series on my blog where I post about Santiago spots - restaurants, cultural events, neighborhoods, really anything - on Saturdays. But I almost immediately shot down my own idea because I figured I wouldn't be able to do it every Saturday, so it would just be a failure. Thanks for inspiring me to go for it, even if it's going to involve some skipped Saturdays.

diane said...

petra...i do the same thing you described, and i call it 'retroactive perfectionism.' it's so unloving + unproductive to do this to myself, so i try to catch it when it's happening and stay present or plan future changes.

and yes, i adore eckhart (as you know) and he has helped me tremendously in this journey. i recently watched brene's ted talk. her work is wonderful and i plan to read more. thank you for the book suggestion! adding it to my list.

diane said...

beka...your idea of clones made me think of 'city of lost children' - have you seen that film? i love it.

yes, i totally agree that media/social illusion have played a huge role in this issue. as i get older and become more aware of this, i'm refocusing on what it means to be my best "me"...not the idea of "perfection" that has been created and sold by that world, but the idea of how can i be my best true authentic self with all of its glorious imperfections. it's a shift, and a big one.

krystal...all i know is how much better i feel (inside + out) when i am able to let it go. it's freeing!

keishua...i love your phrase "joy stealer" - it is absolutely true! perfectionism crushes creativity + happiness because it's so stressful + oppressive. thanks for your support - i plan to write more!

becca...oh, i adore that phrase "should-ing all over yourself." very wise indeed. i oft think of our conversations around this topic.

sara..."one of fear's wiliest disguises" - so brilliantly said, my dear. thank you for this!

diane said...

lynn...thank you for your words and support! improv is such a wonderful place to power through perfection. i know from doing it and teaching it that it requires you to leap, be, and do without being able to indulge your inner perfectionist! it's scary scary scary though. i still get wildly nervous when demonstrating it for my kiddos. you have inspired me to write about this. your words have strengthened me, my dear. what symbiotic scorpios we are! :D

em...oh, i love seeing that you started posting your saturday posts! they're wonderful. i'm so honored to have been part of your getting started inspiration. sometimes for me that's the hardest part. once i'm over that, momentum often kicks in and i am on a roll (as long as i can let go of perfectionism). xo