Open thread: Giving up on being perfect

Published by Lori Pickert on September 9, 2016 at 08:41 AM

The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself. — Anna Quindlen

• • •

We start out the new school or “school” year (for homeschoolers, when the playgrounds are suddenly gloriously empty during the day! and all the new groups and classes start…) with new supplies and new plans — it’s a fresh start.

How long does it take for us to feel that first wave of disappointment when things don’t go the way we’d hoped?

When we struggle with perfectionism, we have the opportunity to learn something we can share with our children. We have the opportunity to struggle in front of them and show them how real learning and doing works.

When we pay attention to our fears and frustrations, we can learn about theirs. When we give up on being perfect, it allows them to give up on being perfect.

Perfection doesn’t exist — it isn’t real. You are imperfect, flawed, with talents and deficits, successes and struggles — you are real. The only things getting done in this world are getting done by real people, like you.

Do you find it hard to let go of your ideal imagining and get on with the flawed but real work? Do you find it hard to help your kids do it?

How do we work on developing a learner’s mindset vs. getting bogged down in our perfect fantasy?

Perfectionists aren’t people who do something perfectly. Perfectionists are people who fantasize about doing something perfectly. — John Perry

• • •

Anything you want to discuss? Ask? Share? Do it here! It’s your thread.

14 comments

Comment by Lori Pickert on September 9, 2016 at 08:44 AM

Wherever perfectionism is driving, shame is riding shotgun. Perfectionism is not about healthy striving, which you see all the time in successful leaders, it's not about trying to set goals and being the best we can be, perfectionism is basically a cognitive behavioral process that says if I look perfect, work perfect, and do everything perfectly, I can avoid shame, ridicule, and criticism. It's a defense mechanism.

When I interview leaders, artists, coaches, or athletes who are very successful, they never talk about perfectionism as being a vehicle for success. What they talk about is that perfectionism is a huge trigger, one they have to be aware of all the time, because it gets in the way of getting work done. — Daring Greatly

 

Comment by JackInCT on September 9, 2016 at 01:58 PM

I always find your pulling apart of perfectionism to be very helpful. I didn't realize I had this problem- then I didn't realize the extent to which I had this problem- and now more and more obstacles in my life I realize stem from this problem. That so many other people are fighting the same Hydra makes me feel less... messed up. :) So thanks.
"Wherever perfectionism is driving, shame is riding shotgun." You always pull the best stuff from places.
I find myself asking a lot: "What's the worst that's likely to happen here. is that really so terrible?" And that helps me move on with actually starting the thing.
"Oh no I might not make the perfect, most efficient PBH journal ever on my first- okay, second- attempt! Fates forfend."

Comment by JackInCT on September 9, 2016 at 01:59 PM

Same goes for actually leaving comments / forum entries etc., come to think of it.

Comment by Lori Pickert on September 9, 2016 at 06:55 PM

you are absolutely right — i have emails about this post but those people didn’t leave comments. :") 

Comment by Lori Pickert on September 9, 2016 at 06:54 PM

That so many other people are fighting the same Hydra makes me feel less... messed up. :)

TRUTH! soooo many other people. so many.

I find myself asking a lot: "What's the worst that's likely to happen here. is that really so terrible?" And that helps me move on with actually starting the thing.

a good way to get over that bump. :")

 

Comment by Wendy M on September 9, 2016 at 09:50 PM

I have been encouraged in the past by the idea that others (Mom's in particular) need to see in each other, real lives. We need to see that others don't live in a magazine or on a face book post, which should be obvious, but we hold ourselves to those standards. When we welcome someone to our home and then apologize for the non-existent mess, or the faults that only we would notice etc. we shame our guest for not living up to our ideal. We do this in so many areas, especially parenting. I want to live free from these comparisons to something that isn't even real. I want to be brave enough to show my real self in order that someone might be encouraged along the way. It's part of the reason I don't read magazines anymore. Each of us has to find the cutting back, the building of a gatekeeper that will allow us a mind clear enough to pursue our calling.

Comment by Lori Pickert on September 10, 2016 at 07:43 AM

setting the example by being real is a great thing. it’s how we make our kids comfortable with real learning and doing, and if we can do that for our friends, family, and community, even better!

if avoiding looking at magazines helps you keep it real, that’s great. whatever works! 

Comment by Melanie Dawn on September 9, 2016 at 10:09 PM

"How long does it take for us to feel that first wave of disappointment when things don’t go the way we’d hoped?"

Day 2 for me. Navigating our homeschool days (or any days) with my very temperamental, rebellious, headstrong 5 year old is a challenge. In my mind, I create the perfect lessons -- beautiful materials, engaging projects, nurturing rhythm. And in reality my son is interested for two minutes (if I'm lucky), and then on to a meltdown about being bored, or the baby is climbing all over me grabbing big brother's crayon right after he finally started drawing something. I'm working at being more flexible, changing our plans the minute something sparks his interest, saying yes to his requests even when they don't fit my idea of what the day looks like ("yes, we can play a board game instead of practicing letters", "yes, we can read all seven books from the library, plus magazines, instead of doing the project I had in mind"). But I can tell this letting go, child-led thing is going to take a lot of practice, a lot of re-learning the same lessons (like that lesson about how feasible it is to keep the house clean). The funny thing is (is it funny? maybe not), now that I think of it, is that my son is a total perfectionist, and it gets in the way of him trying almost anything new. Maybe I've been so busy trying to model for him the perfect way to be, but what I'm really modeling is how to be uncomfortable with your own flaws (I'm SO uncomfortable with my flaws!), and that you have to be better than you are in order to be good at all. "When we give up on being perfect, it allows them to give up on being perfect." Hmmm...definitely something to chew on!

Comment by Lori Pickert on September 10, 2016 at 07:39 AM

I can tell this letting go, child-led thing is going to take a lot of practice, a lot of re-learning the same lessons

it absolutely does

The funny thing is (is it funny? maybe not), now that I think of it, is that my son is a total perfectionist, and it gets in the way of him trying almost anything new.

you are not alone — tons of links in the blog and forum about battling perfectionism in and with kids:

in the blog:

Mentoring the perfectionist child

Perfectionism and praise

Mistakes are valuable

Mistakes are good

A work of one’s own

And in the forum:

Perfectionism

Dealing with perfectionism

Parental perfectionism

Maybe I've been so busy trying to model for him the perfect way to be, but what I'm really modeling is how to be uncomfortable with your own flaws (I'm SO uncomfortable with my flaws!), and that you have to be better than you are in order to be good at all.

definitely this.

the first step to helping him get comfortable with real learning and making and doing is to show him what that looks like — and it never, ever looks perfect.

 

Comment by Lori Pickert on September 10, 2016 at 10:14 AM

Without giving up hope — that there’s somewhere better to be, that there’s someone better to be — we will never relax with where we are or who we are. — Pema Chödrön

Comment by Liz Scott on October 20, 2016 at 07:56 PM

This reminds me of my very loose paraphrase of Jon Kabat-Zinn that I've been CLINGING too, "you can only ever be who YOU are, in THIS moment." It's so shockingly simple, yet so grounding and comforting. You can't be who you wish you were, you can't be in the past, or in the future, etc, etc.

Comment by Lori Pickert on October 21, 2016 at 01:29 PM

huge fan of JKZ!

Comment by Janet Stücklin on September 10, 2016 at 02:06 PM

Yes, a constant struggle . . . but I've seen improvement! I can better notice that I'm living in fantasy world and quit dreaming of what I'll do when I have time and ask your question of "What's the simplest version I can do today?"

This goes for the little stuff as well as the important stuff. All too often I fail to sweep up a few crumbs because "I should really mop the kitchen floor," or I don't plan the next few steps in homeschooling because I don't have time to plan the way I want to.

Just like everything, it takes practice, and the practice really does help in areas large and small. But use it or lose it! I have to keep trying things I'm not good at or the fear of not-good-enough creeps back again.

Comment by Lori Pickert on September 11, 2016 at 11:36 AM

I can better notice that I'm living in fantasy world and quit dreaming of what I'll do when I have time and ask your question of "What's the simplest version I can do today?"

excellent :")

Just like everything, it takes practice

yes yes yes…

 

Post new comment