Guest Blog: Progress is the goal
I learn something every single time I step onto my yoga mat. Sometimes it’s an incredible new lesson. Sometimes it’s simply a gentle reminder. But it never fails and I always step off the mat more inspired and connected than when I started. I’ll be guest blogging each month to share my latest lesson from the mat with Kristin’s community.
Lessons from the mat: Progress is the goal and perfect doesn’t exist
Raise your hand if you’re a perfectionist? (You can’t see me but my hand is raised HIGH!) Perfect has always been my goal. Straight A’s signaled that I was the perfect student. Praise from my mom meant that I was the perfect daughter. Getting into a good college, securing a great job, going to graduate school. I was always chasing the elusive perfection. And when I reached it, it was never perfect enough.
Yoga has been one of my greatest teachers when it comes to my deep desire to bust through the blocks of perfectionism. And it is on my mat where I am constantly reminded that progress is the real goal. Perfect doesn’t exist and the quest to find it is suffocating.
I resisted the call to the yoga mat for so long because I just knew that I wasn’t going to be any “good” at it – meaning I wasn’t going to get into a headstand perfectly in class one. So I didn’t even try. And this translated far, far beyond the mat. When I finally worked up the nerve to try out yoga (in the privacy of my own living room) my suspicions proved true: I wasn’t any good at it. I toppled over in downward facing dog, face planted in plank, laughed at the sight of crow, and spent more time watching yoga than doing yoga.
But it didn’t matter. Something happened while I was on the mat. I was coming face to face with my own fear voice, my limiting beliefs of not being good enough, and my deep need to be perfect. I toppled over and couldn’t get through the full session. So what?! The world kept turning. It was truly an ah-ha moment and a pivot point.
4 ways to let go of perfectionism
- Stay in your own lane – Stop comparing yourself to anyone! This is equally true on and off the mat. If, during yoga class, you are more focused on how your neighbor is rocking forearm plank than your own experience you are going to have a hard time in the pose. And if you are comparing yourself to your coworkers, friends, family members, or strangers on the street you are going to have a hard time in life. When we are seeking out perfection it is about appearing to be perfect to someone else. It’s about external validation. And it never seems to fill you up the way you expect. Instead of comparing yourself to others, compare yourself to the person you were yesterday or last year or five minutes ago. Are you happier? Are you healthier? Are you more open? What can you do to be happier, healthier, and more open five minutes from now?
- Commit to doing one small thing that scares you – Okay, okay. I know that this one is torturous for the perfectionist but it is critical. Perfectionism quickly becomes procrastination, which sends you directly to stagnation. The unknown is scary. And scary is out of the question. But the truth is, in order to move past perfectionism you have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Make a list of 20 things that you would do if you weren’t concerned with being perfect. And now the hard part – commit to doing them. Not all at once. Not even one at a time. But one small step in the direction of one item from your list. Maybe you want to take dance classes. Start by turning up the volume when no one’s home and busting a move. One step leads to two which leads to movement and joy in your life. The joy will overshadow any lingering fear of not being perfect.
- Learn from your “mistakes” – Perfect is not real. Flaws are real. Life is real. I describe myself as perfectly imperfect. In fact, the one thing that I am as perfect as is possible at is being imperfect. I mess up. I say the wrong thing. I skip my workout for a Housewives marathon. I eat coconut ice cream for dinner. I wake up in a bad mood and take it out on those around me. I forget to meditate. But instead of letting any of these “mistakes” trip me up, I find the lesson in them and move on. The next time you make a “mistake” and your perfectionist voice starts talking challenge yourself to find the growth opportunity.
- Practice radical self-forgiveness – Don’t worry if you’ve searched and searched but can’t seem to find the lesson in your “mistake” – just break out the F-word. FORGIVENESS! Each and every time you don’t meet your perfectionist standards (ps: you never will) forgive yourself. Use the mantra “I am willing to forgive myself. I choose to see myself with love instead of this.” Forgive yourself even when you don’t believe it. Especially when you don’t believe it. And trust that one day you will believe it. The best way to let go of perfectionism is to let yourself off the hook. Otherwise, you will get in your own way time and time again.
Share one item from your perfectly imperfect to-do list and let’s support each other!
Stephanie is a holistic health coach at Spirited Well-being. She merges spiritual principles with practical wellness strategies to empower women to lose emotional weight and gain healthy habits. Stephanie has completed the Spirit Junkie Master Class Level One and Two training with Gabrielle Bernstein and graduated from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.