It was over dinner the other night that Adrian, my darling six-year old, eagerly reminded my husband and I that we hadn’t yet asked him what happened at school that day.
Well, it wasn’t pretty. In a nutshell, he became so frustrated with himself that he couldn’t spell certain words that he decided he wouldn’t try at all. So there. 🗯
AND today was the day he recognized that his (delightful) animal drawings did not look good enough. Not like the artists who drew them in his books. In revolt, he’s just going to draw angry scribbles from now on.
I looked at him, tears stinging my eyes and thought, “already, my love?” 💔
We have arrived at the threshold of Perfectionism.
My husband and I were shaking our heads in bewilderment at this little genius, and fumbling over what to say to make him 1) feel better and 2) rationalize his experience.
We want him to keep going. Keep trying. Keep practicing being a creative, intelligent, ambitious person who has something to express and nurture his potential.
Perfectionism is a quality of being that stifles creativity, progress, and joy. It breeds a cycle of increasing:
In fact, in striving for perfection (the perfect sound, the perfect performance, the perfect program, the perfect sentence, the perfect post, etc.) leaves us, in the words of Cole Porter, totally cold.
Crap. Now yearning for the thing that we truly desire is also the root of our own suffering.
So what’s the antidote to perfectionism, that pursuit of the Impossible Standard?
I invite you to replace the fantasy of what is Just Right with Workable Right Now.(I am avoiding the word “enough” right here: you’re too wily for that. 🧐)
The ideal of Perfect promotes inertia, procrastination, stalling, and hesitation. This happens in a moment (say, the instant before you phonate) or in a season of life (say, a career change).
Perfectionism is a state of mind, not a state of being. In order to move out of its gravitational field, we must enter a mind-altered state.
We learn to become whole-hearted. My six-year-old has to learn this the hard way, walking the path of life (fortunately with wise parents to guide and nurture him).
My friend, we have already walked life’s path. We recognize the scenery.
What ideals are you clutching to that have been holding you back from realizing your creative, intelligent, ambitious life?
See yourself through the eye of the heart. Allow a tiny crack in the protective shell of Perfectionism, and let the creative healing begin. 💗
Because your most beautiful dreams depend on it.