Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Perfect Peace in Imperfection

Hi everyone.  My name is Kate Elizabeth Lindsay and I am a recovering perfectionist.

I am not exactly sure where it came from or when it came but it is here.  I could have won a prize for the messiest room when I was a teenager.  Clean and dirty laundry shared the floor. Dresser drawers were usually open and clothes were often decorating the edges. At times my room looked like one you would see on a TV sitcom. No joke.  I have no idea who that girl was. I can't find many traces of her today for sure. Now I make the bed every morning. I adjust the towels to hang in the way I like, and I passionately dislike going to bed with dirty dishes in the sink. Clean dishes in the drying rack.... OK, though put away is better.

That perfectionist part of me has been known, and I swallow deeply as I say this, to measure and to judge another harshly from time to time.  Even as I write that line I am uneasy about admitting that to anyone, myself included. After all I am one who spends great time and effort teaching of unconditional love and forgiveness, that can't be the same person. But it is the truth. I have been hard on others at times, as I measured them to, often unrealistic standards.

For years I competitively multi tasked as many extra work projects as I could possibly do because I could do it and would do it better than anyone else. Tackling fully everything that I knew I could be successful at while staying well clear of anything I was unsure of. I was determined to be the one with all of the answers and all of the skills while still being the most liked. I am not sure whom I felt I needed to prove myself to, other than to myself. There may never have actually been anyone other than myself whose opinion truly mattered.  It's hard to tell really because I judged myself most harshly of all.

I spent years perfecting my habits of thought, many of which were doing a bigger dis-service to me than anything else. And I realize that it will take me some time and much conscious effort to create new habits to replace some of those I had perfected and protected.  But in the short time that I have spent with that conscious effort applied, my life has dramatically changed for the better.

I have found peace in admitting that I am not perfect. There is an ease in me that I didn't realize existed. I still have some perfectionist tendencies and I have made peace now with those that I choose to hang on to.  It may mean spending a few extra minuets after dinner cleaning up properly so that I can awake to the fresh kitchen I prefer, but that one is OK with me - because I can choose it either way, and there is a real free feeling that comes as a part of that package.

My favourite part about admitting that I am not perfect is that I no longer have the same scale with which to measure myself or others.  Not automatically cataloguing who is doing what where allows me the space to think more about what actually matters. It feels good to consider the balance of skill and imperfections in us each. After all, that is what can make a great team, and though being able to do it all is great and can sometimes feel good, it is so much better to do it with others.

Your turn.  Are you someone who can identify with my perfectionist tendencies?? Is there a personality trait that you once spent time perfecting only to later spend time replacing??  How are you doing that?? What kinds of challenges and rewards have you faced along the way?? The comment section below is here for you. I'm interested in what you have to share.

If you liked what you read I invite you to use the social buttons and share. Imagine how wonderful our world will feel when more people find that they too can let go of their perfectionist sides and find the peace that comes with imperfection.