Do you worry about things you said or did and how other people may perceive you?
Do you battle niggling feelings of not being good enough?
If you resonate with the term “perfectionist,” “people pleaser,” or “impostor syndrome,” you’re most likely a highly conscientious, caring individual with an acute sensitivity to nuance. You may also struggle with an inner tension that won’t let loose, a guard and self-critic whispering “sour nothings” that something is wrong with you. On the outside, all may look manicured and pretty. On the inside, trying to maintain control and tame creativity can be an exhausting drain of energy.
One way to break out of the inner prison is the practice of making imperfect. You might say, who needs practice making mistakes; we do that all the time easily enough, right? But I’m talking about practicing welcoming those mistakes, embracing messiness, and loving fallibility. It goes against the grain for those who grew up finding their value in giving people what they wanted. We give lip service to fostering a “growth mindset,” but we’re not taught how to emotionally integrate failure and keep moving forward when everything goes sideways. That’s OK though; sometimes the best learning comes from stumbling through.
I’d like to share a prayer I worked with almost daily for a long time. It originated in something I read and eventually evolved into something more my own. I invite you to edit the words as needed to bring the most genuine relief and freedom to you too:
You know who is not a perfectionist? Nature. It’s not our nature, nor is it in nature, to have everything line up just so, for all eternity. Find the most beautiful symmetrical flower you can, and there will likely be just one little tear. Some tiny “flaw” that makes it slightly different from its neighbors. Yet wow, isn’t nature filled with such fantastically intricate patterns? Take a closer look at that flower, and you’ll see the awesome beauty of her just being herself.
May you be imperfectly, beautifully whole, and gloriously you,
Sidebar on the word “prayer”
If you’re not used to praying, or if the word “prayer” brings up religious trauma or resistance, know that it doesn’t matter if you are praying to something or not. I think of the phrase Baruch Hashem from my own tradition, meaning “Blessed is the Name.” I like it because it captures the non-nameable aspect of divinity–I translate Baruch Hashem as “What an amazing wonder this all is, whatever you want to call whatever it is you’re calling.” How could our limited language capture the essence of interconnection and everything we can’t perceive/don’t understand as a tiny person in a vast universe? So it’s OK, we don’t need intellectual understanding of what we’re doing here. What matters is we keep expressing from the heart. We keep opening to ourselves, to each other, and to all of life as is.