“If a thing’s worth doing, it’s worth doing badly.” — G.K. Chesterton
Ever turn a proverb upside down? In “Way of All Flesh” by Samuel Butler, Ernest was annoyed and surprised at his parents for wanting him to be more religious all his life, and when he did, they were still not satisfied. He said to himself that a prophet was not without honors save in his own country, but he had gotten into an odious habit of turning proverbs upside down, and it occurred to him that a country is sometimes not without honor save for its own prophet.
It helps sometimes, to see what happens. Many of us are brought up to believe that we have to do, excel, finish first, get on the team, do a good job, see it through, get it done on time, say it right, get ahead, and on and on, better and better as we go. Why? Maybe that’s the way Dad did it; and Grandma did it and that’s just the way it’s supposed to be.
And then, inevitably, we’d fail or fall. So we’d turn back on ourselves in shame, beat ourselves up, maybe turn to alcohol or drugs or some other addiction. If we were failures in public, then many of us would make up our own private world where failure doesn’t exist. In this little world fantasy ruled, and in fantasy there are only successes; everybody scores
But I have come to know that it doesn’t have to be so. We can break the spell and stop beating ourselves, and get away from Father’s angry voice or that disappointed look on Mother’s face. We can do things at our own speed, in our own unique way, on our own timeline, just for the joy of doing them.
- Procrastination (christophersmark.wordpress.com)
- Perfectionism (converstations.com)
- 8 Ways To Pitch Perfectionism (psychcentral.com)
“Every forward step we take we leave some phantom of ourselves behind.” –John Spalding
There are some people who knew all too well the person I was – before I started to focus on becoming a more emotionally healthy person through personal growth. I know that a person can’t do the kind of work I have on myself and remain unchanged. However, for whatever reason, these people cling to the toxic images in their minds of my former self. I know that each day brings more depth to my spirituality, and with that comes change.
A friend of mine once shared with me that he begins each day by saying out loud, “O.K. God, surprise me!” Although each day brings new challenge, the one thing it won’t bring is perfection. I know that each day I can expect a mixed bag of experiences and all kinds of emotions to match.
If I begin to feel discouraged because of someone’s inability or refusal to see how different I have become, or even negative about life in general, I cultivate an attitude of gratitude by looking back at how far I have come. I remind myself, its progress I’m looking for in myself, not perfection. There’s always something to be grateful for, including the ability to be grateful!
- The Priceless Gift of Personal Growth (christophersmark.wordpress.com)
- “A Letting Go” for the Holidays (christophersmark.wordpress.com)
- Damn Heels Hurt! When In Pain, Who Knows Best Where it Hurts? (christophersmark.wordpress.com)
- S.T.A.R. A Tool to Choose Healthy Alternatives (christophersmark.wordpress.com)
- For All This We Can Be Grateful and Joyful (christophersmark.wordpress.com)
“Treat a work of art like a prince; let it speak to you first.” — Arthur Schopenhauer
There have been many times when I felt that I always had to have and offer an opinion about everything right away. After a movie or a concert, such as, I often wanted to step right in with my comments and judgments. I would just “shoot from the hip”, without thinking or being attentive to my feelings, or the feelings of others.
This can be a way of warding off the experience, enclosing it within certain words. I’m quite certain that all of us have feared that we might be caught off guard and compelled to change or expand our own ideas. We feared being too vulnerable!
Images, sounds, poems, and plays can cause us to open ourselves to the unfamiliar and the new, and if we are quiet and attentive, we can come to fresh insights and understandings. And so it is too, with people. If we are patient and willing to listen, we will always be learning and growing through contact with others.
The beauty and joy of life dwell within differences. I am learning to be open and attentive to what has not been part of my existence up to now, so that it may come to color and enhance my life.
- 6 Quick Tips for Receiving Critiques Gracefully (sixrevisions.com)
- Hasty Judgment (gregghake.wordpress.com)
- Confronting Loved Ones (socyberty.com)
- Judging Personality Over the Holidays — 2010 Edition (psychologytoday.com)
Many of us along our paths of personal growth are perfectionists who have been brought up to believe in nothing other than the ideal. When we fall away from perfection, we plunge from the heights of idealism to the depths of misery and self-abuse.
We can do better by being less “perfectionistic”. When we can show and accept our real strengths and defects we get a whole new perspective on ourselves and a true sense of balance. We learn to be flexible and to appreciate the diversity of life (even the humble cabbage).
Even if I don’t especially like cabbage soup, I can recognize that all things may be good to those who love life and keep their eyes wide open.
“The principal mark of genius is not perfection but originality, the opening of new frontiers.” — Arthur Koestler
Many of us like me believed that we should strive for perfection, and often this means imitating someone whose life seems exemplary to us. We take enormously high standards from outside and we soon begin applying them to ourselves. I find that in my mind I obsessively check all the things people in my life may need or expect from me. Many of these thoughts and self-assessments reveal failure(s) on my part. I realize that I then begin to pre-plan the reaction. My pattern is I then start to beat myself up for my failures.
When we fall short, we berate ourselves. We become convinced that because we aren’t saints, we must have fallen from grace; imperfect, we come to despise ourselves. Surely, no one is as worthless as we are! We’ve failed again. Relapsed maybe, or acted out perhaps. Who could love us if they knew who we really were? When we take part in healthy relationships, we are not seen as we see ourselves – the shortfalls, the failures, missed opportunities, or any of the other negative ways we see us. Good and healthy people filter the way they see us and the filter is love.
So why then, do we insist on being judged by impossible standards? Why, oh why would we want to be like someone else? Why should we not search for what makes us original, precious, and worthy of care and love? Then we don’t have to go around with our eyes on the ground; we can look the world in the face because we know who we are. Who? Ourselves!
We may have been brought up with the idea that we always had to finish something we started – a meal, a painting, a piece of work, a letter. In many cases this went along with our distorted notions of perfectionism: if something is going to be done, it must be done perfectly – the way Dad does it, or your teacher, or perhaps God. And so, especially if we liked to experiment a bit, push the envelope or dream, we ended up feeling as if we didn’t measure up.
But wait! Many of the great artists- Leonardo, Cezanne, Picasso – left work unfinished, as if to show the margin between impossible perfection and their own striving. What mattered was the effort and the process and the struggle. Each viewer of an unfinished picture could, by responding to the work’s creative urging with his or her own imagination, fulfill the process.
Our lives are never finished – at least until we can no longer add any final touches. We are always in a process of change and becoming. That’s why we keep taking our little baby steps over and over again- to remind us that our lives are journeys, always in the act of unfolding.