Shaking off the shackles of perfectionism

There are times when things go wrong.

Sometimes the unwanted events are  easily recognizable, coming in big, giant or even catastrophic forms. Other times life delivers a more subtle blow, coming at you with you less flash, but more potential emotional landmines.

Sometimes, I backslide, particularly when confronted with my perfection demon. He and I have had some heart-to-heart talks over the years, coming to an uneasy peace. But my perfection demon (let’s call him Gargamel) decided to launch an offensive at me this weekend and I was ill-prepared to absorb the first blows. I retreated and wallowed.  And then got upset with myself for wallowing, which opened up a new front for Gargamel to attack.

But just like emerging democracies across the world, I, too, have the power of social media at my fingertips. Even while in the midst of my wallow, I knew that I wanted to break out of the retreat.

And that’s when Facebook and Twitter hit me with some powerful quotes and mental challenges.

First came this from writer Teagin Maddox:

Best way to alleviate stress? Embrace it: It is there to call your attention to something that needs to change.

That was an important start, because the re-emergence of Gargamel meant that my battle with perfection was something that needed attention. Ignoring him would only give him time to gain strength for a bigger attack later. It was time to engage Gargamel. But how to do that?

Enter some questions from  from Lead Like A Girl:

How will you show the world there’s no such thing as too much fun today?

What attitude will you wear into your life today?

And finally from Gail Lynne Goodwin:

Instead of worrying, ask yourself, ‘What if everything went right??’ Then, make plans accordingly

It’s not so much about fighting back Gargamel and defeating him as it is about engaging him, about seeing him as a part of myself which needs attention. Perhaps sometimes things “go wrong” in my  life not as a way to screw with me, but as way to challenge me. In training, I push the boundaries of my ability through things like sprints and hill repeats which move me outside my comfort zone and ultimately make me better equipped to achieve goals and outcomes.

During these times when I’m fighting Gargamel, when I feel as if things are going all wrong, I can frame it the same way — a momentary challenge which will push me outside my comfort zone, but make me stronger in the end.

So today, I launched my counterattack against Gargamel, which, in essence is now to engage him in fun, to see that I don’t need to be perfect to be good enough. As my coffee was brewing, I did a happy dance. It felt a bit unnatural, but I stuck with it, setting the tone for the day, shaking off the shackles of perfectionism, in quite the literal way.

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