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Why Perfect Doesn’t Exist

Are you a perfectionist? Do you always want things to be exactly right, and will spend hours working on a project down to the last gritty detail, unwilling to let it go?

I was one, too. Which is funny, because I do not like precision; baking is too much measuring for me. But perfectionist about my life? Hell yes. I would spend hours going over and over every line of a newspaper story, checking facts and details, even after my editor sent it to the copy desk. When I first started teaching yoga, I would beat myself up over feedback about my sing song voice or not projecting my voice, thinking I would never be good enough. My perfectionist tendencies reared up when I was training my puppy Coco. I sometimes sacrificed my own sanity by driving around to socialize with other dogs, and put pressure on myself by counting how many play dates she had to make sure she would turn out OK. What’s underneath the perfectionism? Fear. I’m afraid I will fail in all of those situations.

I was afraid of corrections in the newspaper. Reality: It happens on deadline.

I was afraid people would hate my yoga class. Reality: Someone always hates your yoga class. I was afraid my dog would be reactive or messed up. Reality: I’ve learned that dogs, like people, are who they are. My coach reminds me that you can either take the lesson or live with the pain of the past. It’s the words I take with me, especially when I’m trying to be perfect. Perfectionism isn’t real, which means sometimes I will mess up. I want the lesson, not the pain. I also often remind myself that perfect is boring. Does anyone like the perfect person? And, being imperfect doesn’t mean I am an incomplete human. I am a whole, happy human, who also sometimes makes mistakes. Your brain learns through mistakes. And I am the type of person who likes to push my edge, which means I make mistakes. A lot, especially when I am new to something. And the way through is forgiveness, a big dollop of grace, and taking the lesson, not the pain.

Are you a perfectionist? Can you learn to take the lesson, not the pain, no matter the outcome?

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