Notes from a recovering perfectionist

Those of you who know me and have witnessed my atrocious spelling in emails, may laugh when I claim to be any kind of perfectionist.  But in my heart, I know I have a craven desire to do everything perfectly the first time.  And when I stuff up, I stop trying.  Or even worse, fear stuffing up, so I don’t even try at all.  If I were to list the worst casualty to my need for perfectionism it would be the loss of enjoying myself and not being in the moment.  Examples spring to mind, such as there is no such thing as Bad Karaoke.  Just a fun night out with friends involving singing.

Louise Hay on her CD How to Love Yourself, calls it ‘The Curse of Perfectionism, where we don’t even try anything new because we are afraid of failing the very first time.  She goes on to say that Number Three on her top ten steps you can take to love yourself is to be gentle and kind with yourself – that it is OK to make mistakes when you are learning. [By the way, numbers one and two on how to love yourself more are “Stop all Criticism of (yourself) and Don’t Scare Yourself with your thoughts of impending doom and disaster.]

Where did perfectionism come from?  You probably know where, as we all have our own story of where we stepped onto merry go round addictive cycle of approval and perfectionism to seek that approval.  Some of the lucky ones get to step off earlier than others.

Recently, I decided to I needed to take action to step off my merry go round of perfectionism, and challenged myself to try something I had been flirting with for a while.  And that’s Zumba.  I enjoy running and chi kung, and recently I wanted to add a fun element to my exercise practice.  So I went along to a local Zumba class held at the local community centre.  Actually I signed up for five classes because I knew that I was in danger of going once, being terrible at it, and never going back.  So a financial commitment would help me make the physical commitment of showing up – if my wallet showed up, then I would show up looking for it.

woman exercising fitness zumba dancing silhouettePlease note – this photo is aspirational!

When my friends and family first started asking me about my activities at 5.30 on a Wednesday night, I would try to make some joke about exercise classes for suburban ladies.  But now I have tried to own my inner Zumba goddess and say to them that I am wanting to learn something new.  I am learning to be OK with the learning process of moving from being consciously incompetent to consciously competent, which actually happens for five seconds per class.  I am enjoying Zumba as a way to help me let go of my need to be perfect at something first time, because I actually can’t.  [Even now I am slightly concerned that I must let go of my need for perfection perfectly.]

In a Zumba class, every time I start to think about my emails, my to do list, or how long it is till dinner, I lose my place in a noticeably ungraceful fashion.  Being present for an hour for clients in coaching sessions seems easy and a wonderful as I know what I am doing, but is sure is hard in real life.  Especially when I am feeling observed by the inhabitants of the flat next door to the community centre, who are twenty year old men who barbecue only at 5.30 p.m. on a Wednesday, and can see me flailing about while they get to burn their sausages and drink beer.  Let alone feeling challenged by the music where one of the tracks actually starts with a horse whinnying loudly.  Or all the other gorgeous South American women in the class who know exactly what they are doing.  But now, a month in, I hardly care about these things, as my classmates are lovely friendly women who accept me just as I am.  As usual, my worries are all in my head.

Zumba has given me a new appreciation and compassion for coaching clients and people in my workshops as they also want to feel safe and therefore need extra care in helping them try new coaching tools.

So, here is my best advice to anyone who feels like they are flailing about in their own life.  It comes from Dr Richard Bolstad, my own awesome NLP coaching trainer, who used to encourage us to try new coaching tools by asking if we had ever done this tool before.  We would shake our heads and say “No”.  and he would say “Well if something is worth doing well, it’s worth doing badly the first time”.  This is my mantra I mutter to myself as a I hit the Zumba floor.  Let it be your’s and let fun, richness and happiness into your life.

From Brenda – Living La Vida Loca!

2 thoughts on “Notes from a recovering perfectionist

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *