The Suck of Perfection

by Aug 5, 2019Blog, Inspiration, Leadership0 comments

At a three-day intensive professional development retreat for building my coaching business, we were digging into what could get in our way of achieving our goals. I was faced with the sticky and constricting tentacles of perfectionism.

For me, perfectionism is represented by the dark dwelling pacific octopus.

Perfect Octopussy, as I fondly named this saboteur of mine, likes to wrap her way around my chest to keep me from moving forward any time I am about share something out in the public like a Facebook Live, newsletters [yes, even now she wants to come crawling out of the cave to say hello while I write this], or when I am just speaking to others about what it is that I do.  I even had a stuffed animal octopus as a tangible reminder to not get sucked in by perfectionism. The issue I have with this saboteur is that she has some long, tenacious tentacles that have been part of my life since I was a very young child. During the retreat, I did not know how to detach from the suck of her perfectionism. I found myself sitting in the hotel room for 90 minutes trying to prepare a topic to share on Facebook live. I think I made four drafts for what would end up being a 2-minute video. I had a moment when I looked at the situation, kind of like an out-of-body experience, and I knew that she was sucking the joy out of this experience. I knew perfectionism had gotten a hold of me, yet, I couldn’t detach myself. Her grip was tight. It was in that moment, this Perfect Octopussy needed to die!  I was terrified of doing it alone though. I knew I needed the support of my community and those who loved me. So instead of destroying her, I stuffed her into the top drawer to get her out of sight. I let go of the idea that I was going to complete my task at hand for the evening. I set it aside. I called my boyfriend. I gave myself permission to let it go for the night versus trying to push through and waste a lot of energy trying to create a perfect speech [btw…who wants to even listen to a perfect speech on Facebook live?… that’s the whole point, be messy, be vulnerable and be yourself, right?] The next morning I arrived early to our final day of our retreat. A few people were waiting already. I got up the courage and shared what I had experienced the night before. Guess what? They GOT IT! They also were fighting the same saboteur plus some other ones. Huge relief… I wasn’t alone in this mess. They held massive compassion for me as I shared my story but even more than that, when I felt the urge to rip the stuffed animal to pieces they cheered me on! They encouraged me to tear out the stuffing, stomp on the pieces and it was given a proper burial by covering it up with positive intentions.

They had me write down what I wanted to replace the negative energy with that was just released. Out came a hotel napkin, a pen and a chance for me to set some intentions about what I want to fill the void with.

  1. I deserve to be seen.
  2. I am here to serve.
  3. I am good enough!!!

The final release came when Imperfect Octopussy offered up to the universe by rinsing away the bad mojo in a hotel water fountain (sometimes, you just got to improvise, right?).

Two of these amazing women walked me outside of the hotel and stood next to me as I engaged in my first Facebook live. It was easy, unplanned, and off the cuff. And here is what I said after completing it “That was perfect!” I didn’t even realize I said that until Hollie called me out on it. My imperfect video was absolutely perfect for that moment.

What I notice about perfectionism is that it costs me a lot to be sucked down by it.

It costs me the following because I felt all this:

  1. Stressed
  2. Frustrated
  3. Worthless

And it also cost me a lot of energy, sleep and left me exhausted.

It’s an everyday practice to let go of perfectionism.

I want to share some tips for you for when you feel like you are getting sucked down by perfection:

1. Acknowledge that it is happening

2. Share with your community or an accountability partner you trust

And this is the big one….

3. Give yourself permission to get messy!

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