I seek imperfection, for there lies the possibility of learning, growing, becoming enlightened. Seeking perfection holds me back? How about you? As with all things, there is good in seeking perfection and bad. The good? Motivating. The bad? Impossible. More bad? Leads to judging people with a biased heart. More bad? Can keep people from moving ahead; the checking symptom of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder the best example.
Any one who reads my posts knows I have struggled all my life with a learning disability called Dysgraphia. Most simply this is a problem with spelling, punctuation, and grammar. I know how to spell “the” or “not” and any number of longer words. But when I write “the” can become het, hte, or eth, and “”not can become now, own, ton. Moreover, spell check might catch the misspelling of “the” but not “not.” How did I ever find the gall to think I would become a published author?
Actually, my learning disability played a big part in my success. How? One way was by blinding me to perfect writing. Because my writing was erratic in terms of spelling or grammar, I didn’t stumble and fuss when reading other people’s errors. I looked for meaning, not perfection. I read for ideas and became a strong critical thinker.
But that would have not made me a writer without parents who supported “Trying” as a virtue and “failures” as lessons; teachers who honored my thoughts more than my spelling errors or my misplaced commas; and editors who did not give up on me when I finally put together a book ideas that caught their fancy.
I also was blessed in another way by my learning disability. The shame that sometimes attached to the disability hardened me to its immobilizing efforts. Shame always wants you to sink into the ground and vanish. I spent many hours alone in front of the black board trying to write a spelling list correctly and failed over and over again. Filled a perfection seeking teacher with despair, but toughened me in lots of ways.
I had another blessing in that I was not dyslexic, and learned to read early on and became hypnotized by the adventures that I found in reading. I still read two or three books a week for the sheer pleasure of escaping from the real world.
Finally, two other things turned me into a published author. First, being a therapist who then leapt into the trenches of life. How? By coming not just a foster parent, but probably one of the few foster parents in the world who ended up caring for hundreds of other people’s children.
We cared mainly for teenagers in trouble with the law and only as while they were waiting for the court to decide their fates. Some stayed for a few days, most for about six weeks and some for many months. When leaving us, many of our kids returned to their parent’s care, some went to other foster homes, some to group homes and a few to juvenile lock ups.
Then there was the technology revolution which brought word processing into my life along with spell check and reduced the horror facing editors and others reading what I wrote. Reduced but did not erase. However, I would not be an author without word processing.
Tips for defeating perfectionism.
Tip one: As always reality must be part of your thinking. The purpose of shame – which is the emotional response to feeling imperfect is to keep us from doing the unforgivable – killing, torturing, raping, and oppressing others. If you are doing any of those things, you need shame to make you stop; you might need therapy, or others to lock you up. All other shames must be labeled Silly Shame.
Tip two: What you hide speaks often of how shame rules. Shame as a powerful emotion tells us to sink out of sight when we have done wrong. Not good when we have done no evil; not good if we are hiding the evil we do.
Tip three: Bringing shame out into the open is often the best step to defeating the power of Silly Shame. Ashamed of speaking up in meetings or when in a group. Acting as if you are the best public orator in the world might work. Think if each time you act as a dress rehearsal until you no longer need to act.
Tip four: Talking about shame weakens it. That is why some 12 Step programs help, and why confession of sins eases both the shame and the inclination to behavior badly.
Tip five:Whether you or another are the victim of shame practice the five in one rule. Five affirmations or compliments for one nasty negative.
Tip six: When you cannot keep from acting on an evil inclination, you must get help from professionals. Maybe the inclination is not evil, but defined as such by your parents, teachers, or preachers. then guilt and shame are the problem, not the deed. Only a competent professional can help you sort that out and only if you are honest.
Parenting tip one. Children come to shame naturally; remember that and do not buy into the idea that it is only created by parents.
Parenting tip two: Be careful when criticizing a child. Think and say trying, good enough, learning.
Parenting tip three: Offset the pain of shame by taking the time to teach your child to stand up to silly shame. That starts with labeling a child’s shame as silly or a signal to behavior better.
IMPROVE YOUR CRITICAL THINKING
DAILY PROMPT: Embrace the Ick – Think of something that truly repulses you. Hold that thought until your skin squirms. Now, write a glowing puff piece about its amazing merits.
Think I just did that, although I hope this is not a puff piece. Your turn, what shames you and how can you embrace it to change its power.
LINKS OF INTEREST
Don’t think you can afford a life coach? Like a life coach, EFTI’s poster coaches inspire, teach, motivate, and reinforce thinking about what matters. To use, print up in color and post there it will be seen often. Poster Coaches can also be used at Family Meetings to start a discussion about what matters.
THANK YOU FOR ALL YOU DO
Keep working to stay strong, I work hard to do the same . As noted above, I am not perfect, no one is and this week;s post will be all about praising imperfection.
Member’s sharing is caring and the easiest way to practice kindness is to share this post if you found it helpful. Thank you.