I’ve noticed in talking to many people, that OCD and perfectionism tend to go hand in hand. And for myself, perfectionism is a theme that has come up BIG TIME, especially as I grow into this next version of myself, and stepping out more fully into the world. When we take risks, and allow things to not be perfect, it can feel unsettling, unfamiliar, and uncertain.
So why let go of perfectionism? There are many reasons, and I’ll tell you a story to highlight one of them.
I was talking to my coach and mentor a few months ago, and on our video chat, I was sharing how exhausted I was, how I was trying so hard, but felt stuck. There was so much I wanted to share and express and create. I was moving so slowly (it felt to me), yet trying so hard. And when I couldn’t hold it in any longer and I started to cry right there on the video chat with her, and what came out from my mouth was, “If I could just believe it was perfect every time, I’d get so much more done.”
It’s now on a sticky note above my desk and I read it every day.
So the reason here for letting go of perfectionism is because it’s a delay tactic. It’s based in fear and survival – “If I don’t get it perfect, it’s not ok. Something bad will happen. People won’t like me. I’ll be judged,” etc. Consciously or unconsciously, a story like this is likely playing in the background.
Perfectionism will keep you in the known, which feels safe, but is so limiting. You are meant for SO MUCH MORE!! You are meant for so much more than “perfection”.
Perfection is also subjective. We’ve created ideas in our head of what it is and what it isn’t, and I’m wondering, if you stop right now to lay out what it is, and really think about that, could you define it? Could you really say? Try that right now. Try to delineate what it is.
My guess is you had a little bit of a difficult time with that. And if you came up with an answer, can you prove that it’s true?
If perfection is an idea that we created in our heads, and we decide what is and what isn’t, then maybe everything as it is in each moment IS perfect.
When we let go of trying to be anything other that exactly what we are, in all the glory and messiness, then miracles truly start to happen. A massive amount of space for all of YOU is created, and all this true beauty and light and all your gifts begin to seep out and sparkle through cracks.
What if it’s all ok? What if all the “mistakes”, all the ways you could be better, all the not knowing is totally okay? What if it’s actually truly beautiful? Some of the most profound moments I’ve experienced in my life have been when someone has allowed themselves to be completely authentic and open – It hasn’t been when things are perfectly tied up in a bow, or at a certain weight that is “perfect”, or when everything is all cleaned up in the house. It’s when someone allows themselves to be seen, in their joy, in their disappointment, in their success, in their sadness, in their struggle, in their triumph – in their Truth. Not in their “everything figured out”.
I think we hold onto perfectionism as a safety net. We have this false sense that if we’re more perfect or if we do things perfectly, then everything will be ok, and we’ll know that we are loved.
But when we decide to let go of it, and when there’s something in our heart that we desire that requires us to take imperfect action in a forward direction, and begin to allow ourselves to be seen, that’s where the magic happens. We start to have FAITH in ourselves more than fear in the unknown.
When I was talking to my coach that day, and feeling stuck and slow-moving, my fear in the unknown and my need to get it “right” was greater than my faith in myself. So, right then and there I made the conscious choice that I’d rather “mess up” than stay stuck. I’d rather start taking action than live only in what is known and comfortable.
The opposite of perfectionism is ALLOWING and FLOW. Perfectionism has a feeling of grasping and clutching, and allowing has a feeling a flow and freedom. In perfectionism we limit ourselves to the ideas created in our mind, but when we LET GO, we open up to the infinite potential that we are.
The opposite of perfectionism is also learning as we go. Would you yell at a baby who fell down while they were trying to walk? No. At least, I hope not! They’re perfect exactly where they’re at, and they’re learning.
It may feel scary at first, but with practice, allowing yourself and your actions to be perfectly imperfect will begin to feel freeing. You’ll no longer be held to the constraints of things needing to be a certain way.
Let me ask you one more thing: At the end of your life, do you think you’re going to look back and think about all the things you did or didn’t do “perfectly”? Or would you rather look back and say, “I’m so glad I tried. I’m so glad I believed in myself, and put myself out there. I learned so much along the way and I gave it my all.” It’s going to be LIFE and LOVE that mattered, not all the things you got right the first time. ❤