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Making Mistakes and being Perfect.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Hello, my name is Gwen and I'm a recovering perfectionist. There! I said it.

My perfectionism has hurt me more than helped me over the course of my life, although I never believed that before. I thought it was a good thing that I strove to be perfect. Never mind the stress it caused me from the unrealistic expectations I was creating for myself; the unobtainable heights to which I thought I had to reach. Never mind the OCD-like habits I was accumulating, or the nit-picking I was doing to myself and the people around me. Never mind the toll on my health, the stops and starts on diets or exercise routines that were doomed to fail because I thought I had to be perfect! Even in my hobbies, I never wanted to make a mistake and I always thought I should be an expert at first try, or worse, thought I should be as fast and as skilled as people who had been doing the craft for years.

Interestingly enough, I attended a short talk yesterday by a professor of psychology who is studying the causes and effects of procrastinators, which I also have to admit I am. He told us that procrastination often goes hand in hand with perfectionism. We don't think we can do it perfectly, so we put the task off. We delay failing. Interesting choice of words: delay failing. We are afraid of failure because failure isn't perfect, so we procrastinate to delay that moment. Inside, we really do feel we are going to fail. He also said that a lot of procrastinators are also overweight because we delay taking care of our own health. These two things struck home in a hard way with me.

I had decided that I wasn't going to be a perfectionist any more when I started SparkPeople back in November, but this really cemented home just how much damage I had been doing to myself and just how much negative thinking I had been doing. I have a long row to hoe, but I don't want to be that person anymore. I know now that there is a better way, and just because I am not perfect (who is?) does not make me less of a person. People will accept me as I am, not being perfect, and I might actually be easier to be around when I'm not so wound up all the time.

A few days ago, I was having a bad day. I was feeling low because of the divorce and I came home from work late. I ate a peanut butter sandwich for dinner and then decided to have a treat. I'd bought some Skinny Cow Dreamy Clusters Milk Chocolate treats. They come about 7 small pieces to a bag and the bag is 120 cals and 6 fat grams. Not too bad for a occasional treat. After I ate the first bag, I downed a second. I had taken out a third when I distracted myself by doing something else. I did feel a little out of control, though, so I'm re-evaluating how often or if at all, I will be getting this treat again. In the past, I would have used this as an excuse to completely go off my eating plan until the next Monday. I would have told myself that if the week couldn't be perfect, it wasn't worth doing. This time, I didn't do that. I got up, made my lunch for the next day, ate a good breakfast and lunch and dinner the next day. I got up off the riding ring floor and got back on that horse.

I wasn't perfect, but then, I no longer want to be.

"Finish each day
And be done with it.
You have done what you could.
Some blunders and
Absurdities have crept in.
Forget them as soon as you can."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Beautifully said! Perfect is a myth. My Mum taught me that my house had to pass her concept of perfection. Over several years, I decided my life was more important than a pristine home. I no longer use an old toothbrush to clean the edges of the floors I wash. My house is still pretty clean, and no one has died because I can now control my OCD-like behaviors.

    Good for you for loving yourself...flaws and all. emoticon
    1849 days ago
    So true...thanks for gave this perfectionist something to think about! emoticon
    1853 days ago

    You hit the nail right on the head with that one, and drove it right in! I can't even begin to tell you how many diet programs I've been on and stopped because I knew I wouldn't be able to follow it to a the letter. I have come to realize that no two diets are right for every body. What my neighbor excels at and eats everyday to maintain her size 6 (hate her) is my undoing. We have to find the balance for our own bodies, and mind, and adapt to that healthy life style. I used to be my own worst enemy with perfectionism , and it's evil twin procrastination. Here's to learning how to be our own best friends!

    Great blog!

    lisa emoticon
    1853 days ago
  • ASTRA58
    I'm glad you liked it. I think we will too.
    1856 days ago
    Oh My Goodness! Very well said!!! Yes, perfection, procrastination, failure, all components of the same issue. It's hard to keep going on those days where I know I "messed up". Inevitably it crosses my mind to just keep blowing it. Sometimes I do. Sometimes I go workout instead (or distract in other ways). It's always amazing to me to find others who are the same. (I think we chronic perfectionists keep it to ourselves, or live in denial about it, because we can't fathom the idea that anyone else can be like us). It's good to get out of my self-imposed prison and admit the flaws, the success, the journey. Thanks for finding me on SparkPeople. I think we will build a wonderful friendship.
    1857 days ago
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