Extra! Extra! Read All About It: I am a Perfectionist

Okay, so maybe this isn’t a surprise to the majority of people who are reading this, and in all honesty it isn’t breaking news to me, but this teacher training has exacerbated it. Judgment of myself has been out in full force the past week and a half: unconsciously being upset with myself because I’m not as good as other people in certain poses, as well as wishing I could do asanas better or “perfect” and then being mad at myself when I don’t or can’t. Today, I broke down in class, just so mad at myself for not being able to do a pose I’ve never been able to do (hello – can we say first sign??). Everyone else around me is holding one leg up straight in front of them with 2 fingers and I can’t even get close (maybe not everyone, but my mind perceived it that way). I was so frustrated with my imperfection that I left the room, had a brief cry in the bathroom, then came back apparently shaken. My instructor could tell (remember how I told you that I suck at lying? yea, I can’t fake happiness either) so she came to talk to me and had a lovely speech (in my mind’s interpretation since I forgot my hand recorder at home):

There’s so much more to you than what’s right and what’s wrong. It’s your job to uncover the light that’s already inside of you. How we deal with the present moment affects future moments, so be positive in every moment. Know that what you’re doing is already beautiful. Perfection is impossible.

Smart lady, right? I had a few more tears (this damn yoga teacher training is making me totally emo!), then picked up my bootstraps and got on with my day. After class I decided to go to catch up on my homework at Starbucks. While reading this book called The Heart of Yoga I had an aha! moment about how people relate to themselves inwardly, called niyamas. The first step to being better to ourselves and having clarity is by recognizing our mistakes. Then gradually we try to bring about some changes. One of these changes is through Samtosa which is modesty and the feeling of being content with what we have. Instead of being in despair about a problem, we should accept what has happened. The author sums this up by saying, “’Contentment counts for more than all sixteen heavens together.’ Instead of complaining about things that go wrong, we can accept what has happened and learn from them.” Whoa! Did I skip my homework last night just so that I could read it after my mental freak out today??! How did the author know that I was having this self-crisis on perfection today…and, well honestly, almost every day?

The eerie coincidences continued with an email forward from my mom titled “Create a Life you Can’t Wait to Live” which is also the name of a book by a famous motivational speaker Zig Ziglar. The email had an excerpt from his book that I edited to fit my situation:

You are about to experience the life you can’t wait to live – one filled with passion, peak performance, and purpose. You’re going to fail [and] disappoint yourself – almost every day you’re going to encounter a good, solid, logical reason why you ought to give up. And without passion, you just might.

Peak performance is dependent on passion, grit, determination, and a willingness to do something poorly until you can do it well. Scientists have yet to invent the world’s first perpetual-motion machine – everything runs down or out of gas eventually, including human beings trying to maximize their peak performance day after day.

The end result will be a picture of beauty, purpose, and fulfillment – a life you can’t wait to live.

Now maybe it’s the universe trying to help me see the error of my self-deprecating ways, but three resources in one day have been practically shouting at me to stop judging myself, stop ranking my abilities against other people, and start working toward the happier, fuller, unknown me. It’s going to be damn hard and because I’ve been doing this self-judgment my entire life it’ll be a tough nut to crack. I’m willing to try and see what happens, though. “Practice makes perfect” is an illusion, a non-reality, so let’s change it to: imperfect practice makes you better, but never perfect.

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