I used to strive for perfect (OK, I admit, I often still do…) When I took something on it was all or nothing. I have to say that that mindset has allowed me to achieve some pretty awesome things. It has also been the source of a great mess in many other areas.
Here’s an example: When my son was born (in France) I got my hands on a book called “Croire en son enfant” (“Believe in Your Child”). Based on the “Better Baby Program” it was a system of baby stimulation from drawing to reading to music to physical movement, etc. Using flashcards and specific exercises mothers would spend the day following a strict schedule to have their child advance through the paces at an astonishing rate. I remember panicking as I read this book because Simon was already 8 months old – I was so far behind! I immediately set myself to getting throught the exercises daily. We made the flashcards, we set up the keyboard, we bought the art supplies…By 12 months Simon could play little exercises on the keyboard, recognize about 18 words, knew his alphabet and counting, and the list goes on. Mom was exhausted and stressed, the baby was bewildered, but seemed to be having fun – sort of. Lucky for Simon, Tina’s birth 9 months after we got started on this grueling schedule, and the whirlwind of sleepless nights, illness, and severe eczema that she brought with her, brought everything beyond basic survival to a grinding halt. I stopped working with Simon, and Tina never got any of it. I’m happy to report both kids are fine, intelligent human beings in spite of their mother’s lack of diligence.
I tried the perfection thing again when we did homeschool. Burned out totally by grade 4. I could no longer look at a math book or a worksheet without crying. So we unschooled. I’m happy to report both kids are fine, intelligent human beings in spite of their mother’s lack of diligence. However, I have promised them $2000 for psychological treatment to make up for my perfectionistic tendencies!
Currently I am in the throes of getting this body into shape, and this excess weight, lost. I’m beating on myself, shouting at myself, angry at myself, frustrated with myself. So much for loving on those bits that bother me.
Quite a while ago I came across a book called The Four-Day Win: End Your Diet War and Achieve Thinner Peace by Martha Beck. Not only is it probably the most hilarious weight loss book I’ve ever read, it’s gentle. Kind. Supportive. Nice. No body bashing, no perfectionism, no unrealistic standards that have to do with subsisting on celery while training for a marathon. It’s about setting a goal, keeping it for 4 short days in a row, celebrating your achievement (what a concept!), and then setting another 4-day goal.
I’d started this book a few months back and got distracted with something else (“Squirrel!!”) and last night after a difficult week of not-being-able-to-keep-up-with-my-unrealistic-expectations, as well as 2-3 “dead phone days” (see last paragraph here) I went back to my overburdened Kindle and pulled the book up again. We’re going back to anti-perfectionism.
I find when I push too hard over too long I just break, so what if I did four days of decent-but-non-perfectionist pushing, one day of relaxed celebration with no striving, four days of decent-but-non-perfectionist pushing, one day of relaxed celebration with no striving…etc. I’ll bet good habits would just sneak up on me without me really noticing.
I vow to be nicer to myself. I vow to love myself into better health. I vow to be at least as kind to myself as I am to others. I vow to cheer myself on, build myself up, celebrate my successes, treat myself as a worthy human being.
And throw perfectionism into the trash.
|Be A Star!
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