Why We Want To Embrace Our Imperfect Lives Immediately For Enhanced Calm
Raise your hand if you consider yourself a perfectionist. My hand is raised to the ceiling. I recently decided to embrace imperfection, and now I am a recovering perfectionist. But I am not far enough along in recovery to put my hand down. Perfectionism runs deep. It is not something I can toss out the window overnight. All the perfectionists in the room; listen carefully. I would like you to join me in recovery and learn why embracing the imperfect will create greater calm in your life.
Perfection is Impossible
Can we all agree that it is impossible to be perfect? I know this may seem simple. The problem arises in practice when we do not allow ourselves the grace to be imperfect. For example, I made a plan to work on reading with my son every night. See what I did? I set myself up for the impossible from the beginning. Every night means we need to be perfect. Then on day three, when my workload was extra heavy, and bedtime came around without our reading practice, I felt guilty. Not only guilty, but I also criticized myself for not sticking to the plan. As a matter of fact, I expected we would follow this routine 100% of the time without fail. The expectation was perfection.
Perfection = 100 Percent of the Time
I sat at my desk lamenting the loss of our newly created routine. Really Dawn? Three days is all you can handle. I decided to text my over-critical thoughts to a friend. My quite intelligent friend replied with a FB post by author Josh Hillis. In this post, Josh states:
“There’s a frequency of doing something that will move you in the direction of what matters to you. That frequency is almost never 100% of the time.”
Wow. Doesn’t that hit the nail on the head? If I make a plan that requires 100% frequency, I set myself up to fail every single time. Not to mention, life is imperfect. Things happen, plans change, and we need to constantly adjust our actions throughout the day. So instead of focusing on the 100%, why not focus on repetition and moving forward. If we keep our momentum moving forward, we will make progress. Progress and perfection are not synonymous. Imperfect people with imperfect lives are capable of making amazing progress.
Imperfection Takes the Pressure Off
Embracing my imperfection injects increasing amounts of calm into my life. I am not required to be perfect. My life will run smoothly and be productive in the absence of perfection. In reality, I would never expect perfection from anyone else, so it is silly to expect it from myself. Life will always have a rhythm of ups and downs. Instead of fighting against the flow, embrace it. Even if that means there are times when the house is a disaster, we ate take out three times in one week, and the clean laundry from two weeks ago is still sitting unfolded in baskets – So Be It! We will also have times when the house is in order, the to-do list is completed, and we’re sitting on the front porch talking at the end of a busy day. I will miss the joy of the second scenario if I constantly focus on the first.
Recovery is Hard
After spending a considerable amount of time living with perfection as the one and only goal, recovery is tough. It will take time. There will be relapses. It is important never to stop embracing your imperfect self in the process. As you set goals, remember they are a framework in which to make progress. Goals change. Dreams shift. People grow. Our success comes in moving forward. Whether it is a messy, tumultuous journey, or a simple straight path, progress is progress. Leaning into the imperfect journey allows for less criticism and more grace. More grace creates more calm. Calm leaves room for clear thought and new ideas. It is all connected. In other words, releasing perfection has the potential to take you to new places that are currently blocked by the walls of negative self-talk and personal doubt. The road to recovery is hard, but there are glorious mountains of new adventures on the other side.
Immediately Embrace Imperfection
Here we go, my perfectionist friends, choose one area of your life and immediately embrace all the imperfection that goes with it. Pick something small; baby steps are still steps. Ultimately, as you change your mindset around this one simple thing, you will notice your energy shift. Do you feel the calm creeping its way in? It might take a little time. Remember, you do not need to be perfect about imperfection either. Embrace the calm, nurture it, and watch it grow into something bigger.