Perfectionism and the Road to Recovery

Hi, my name is Rose, and I am a perfectionist. And I am just starting down the road to recovery. My whole life I have let my perfectionism keep me from completing and sometimes even starting tasks. I do well under pressure and deadlines often bring out the best in me, so I let myself put things off. But now that I own a business, this pattern of perfectionism is holding me back. It is a self-imposed limitation AND it suddenly seems arbitrary.

Perfectionism is a form of anxiety. Not only does it cause anxiety within us, it causes anxiety within others, especially those that are waiting for us to get our work done. Perfectionists may seem lazy, or like we don’t have our priorities in order. In fact, our anxiety over our work not being good enough keeps us from starting projects. It took me three years to complete my Seven Sister Chakra Blends, for no reason other than it wasn’t perfect. It’s still not perfect and because I am a perfectionist, it will never be perfect. But today I understand that it is good enough.

Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly.

I read this in a post on Facebook. I felt the floor drop out from beneath me! Suddenly, my mind is aware and open to how I hold myself back, all the time. Let me share what this means.

10 minutes of meditation is better than no meditation. One breathing practice a day is better than one yoga class a week. 30 seconds of brushing your teeth is better than not brushing your teeth at all. An apple a day is better than eating a salad once a week. A half-assed blog post is better than no blog post at all. An email with minimal details is better than no email. A text is better than no phone call. The list goes on.

The point is that some action, no matter how poorly done, is 100% better than no action at all. We can always adjust things. We have the option to make things better, but you can’t make anything better if you haven’t done anything at all.

What I have found in this process, is that people appreciate the “good enough.” I can work all day in creating something with all the details, pretty pictures, the perfect format, etc. Or I can work at the pertinent details, get the information out, and then work on other projects. The result of my effort is often the same. It’s blowing my mind AND easing my burden.

When is good enough not enough?

Here I am, working away at good enough, and I get the following in my email. Ack! This seems to affirm why I am a perfectionist.

I’m sitting on a black couch in the lobby of a nice theater. The couch is cracked and peeling, with seven strips of black gaffer’s tape holding it together. And you don’t have to be an interior geologist to see that it has developed this patina over time, bit by bit.

The question is: Who was the first person who decided to fix the couch with tape?

The third or fifth person did a natural thing–here’s a ratty couch, let’s keep it the best we can.

But the first taper?

The first taper decided that it was okay for this theater to have a taped couch. The first taper didn’t make the effort to alert the authorities, to insist on getting the couch repaired properly.

The first taper decided, “this is good enough for now.”

This is how we find ourselves on the road to decay.

Seth Godin, The First Piece of Tape

When the first taper decided this is good enough for now, they weren’t wrong. But, that first taper needed to follow through an altered the authorities. Good enough for now is a good policy. We need to make sure that we have a plan, so that good enough does not become the road to decay. Start your project, put it out there, and keep refining it. Start your yoga practice now, no matter how small it is, and keep refining it. You will NEVER get there if you don’t start!

About the Author

Rose Kress

Rose Kress ERYT-500, C-IAYT, YACEP, Owner/Director of the LifeForce Yoga Healing Institute, and author of Awakening Your Inner Radiance with LifeForce Yoga. She directs retreats and training programs on using LifeForce Yoga to manage your mood.

2 thoughts on “Perfectionism and the Road to Recovery”

  1. Jyoti Shah says:

    Oh wow Rose, what a way to put things in perspective. Here while reading your post. I thought for a second is that me? But its so true what you said. Need to start working now then never!!!!

  2. Rose Kress says:

    Thanks Jyoti! I find I am working on this ALL the time. 😀

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