Confessions of a Recovering Perfectionist
For so many years I danced before so many mirrors and really thought that the size of my thighs was the hardest thing to look at.
But all this talk of perfectionism on the blog here is revealing all this stuff in ME that I’d prefer not to look at. Writing about perfectionism is the hardest mirror to look in. Ever.
Here I am trying to help you dancers overcome the darker side of perfectionism, but as I do so, the mirror flips back at me, and I see how I still get trapped, how I still forget to listen to my own advice and trust what I know deep down.
So, as hard to admit as it is, I’m still a perfectionist.
I’m terrible – if there were perfectionist police, I’d be handcuffed and put in jail for life!
Because its not only in the dance studio that perfectionism prevails, but even here behind this screen, these fingers on this keyboard. My backspace arrow is wearing away from so many potential-filled sentences (even whole blog posts!) being rejected, erased, reworded, cut, deleted.
It’s not that I have writer’s block, it’s just this incessant editing because I have to get it just. right.
Ugggh! I know. My cheeks are flushing red with embarrassment admitting it.
So I confess, I’m on the journey with you.
I’m here to help, but not because I’m some expert who has all the answers and doesn’t fall prey to the pitfalls of common man. I’m here to help because I struggle with the. Exact. Same. Things. And I’m learning (slowly!) to take some of my own medicine.
So, here we go, a prescription for both dancers and dance-bloggers for changing the face in the mirror of perfectionism.
(These solutions are a come back to the problems with perfectionism we looked at last month, have a read here, if you want a recap!)
Fear-busting: anxiety and anticipation are very similar feelings, the difference is in how you label them. Changing the label for that jittery feeling of being out of your comfort zone from “weak/failure/I can’t” to “courageous/daring/let’s see!” can really change your whole attitude and perception.
Imperfect action always triumphs over perfect inaction: Trying is a real tri-umph for perfectionists. Be willing to feel awkward in order to get better at what you do. My neighbour’s kid plays the trumpet. It doesn’t always sound great. But he keeps trying. The other night I noticed he’s gradually getting better.
Get creative & experimental: nothing suffocates creativity like perfectionism. Let go of your expectations and self-pressure for a moment and be willing to do some ‘bad dancing’ in the name of creativity & experimentation. You might just discover you can do something you never thought you could!
Give your brain a time-out: give yourself a time-slot to switch off, maybe one hour. Set yourself the task of having nothing to do or worry about for a this period of time. Allow yourself to rest and just be. Then when the hour’s over, feel free to get back to the worrying and busy-ness and trying really hard… 😉
Tiny goals to boost your self-esteem: slice your goals up into tiny pieces. And celebrate as you reach each mini-progress marker. Give yourself some wins by acknowledging the micro-steps you’re taking to improvement and reaching your goals.
Speak up to squash shame: this is the hardest one. Shame thrives in secret. It feels like the most counter-intuitive thing, but telling someone you trust what you’re ashamed of can really help hold you in your vulnerability. It’s like shining a torch in the dark, it helps you to feel safe and not alone – just like I’ve done ‘fessing up here!
Just make sure you pick a good person… someone who can handle it and who is willing to do the same back to you. If you don’t have someone you feel like you can trust, or find shame a really big blockage, counselling could be a good option for you. Please be *daring* and get in touch if you need it.
PLUS: A couple of video bonuses for you!
Last week a beautiful friend of mine sent me this very on-topic TEDx Talk by Brene Brown that I want to share with you (She’s amazing, by the way, and you need to read her book “The gifts of imperfection”). It reminded me that giving something new or scary a try – even if you fail – isn’t cringe-worthy – it’s courage-worthy.
Also, this one from Everyday Bright… it appears that arts and science have something in common for once – a creative environment conducive to innovation! “Today is a great day to make a mistake”
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