My 5 y/o daughter was finishing her lego house, voicing her thought process: “Everything needs to be perfect, because butterflies are coming. If everything is not perfect, then a volcano will erupt, and everyone will die. Including the butterflies.”
This, pretty much, sums up the imaginary high stakes in the perfectionist mind. You may or may not have butterflies and a volcano making cameo appearances in your thought process. But the formula stands:
“Everything needs to be perfect, because… [some imaginary reason]. If everything is not perfect, then [some tragic imaginary outcome].”
What’s makes it tricky to tackle is that this “reasoning” may be completely subconscious. So, you may not be able to catch yourself thinking along these lines. What you can catch yourself doing, is worrying, procrastinating, self-sabotaging, feeling stuck, sinking into depression, suffering self-doubt attacks and self-esteem crises. If you’ve never felt this way and you ARE human, contact me immediately—I need to study you.
I guess this means that we’re all perfectionists, to a degree. And we all have the same high stakes in this game. Can you guess what they are?
If you watched my free video series that ended last week, you may already know the answer. It’s conditional love currency. We fear, that if we don’t live up to some (external or internalized) expectations, if we don’t meet some conditions, we won’t be loved.
Here’s your Heart Talk Yoga perfectionism fix:
Heart: Meditate with this mantra: “I am loved.” Say a few times in your mind, dropping it, like a pebble, into your heart, into your mind-body consciousness. Observe the ripples. You may soon feel something warming up and melting inside and the corners of your mouth gently lifting.
Talk: Recognize a simple fact: If somebody’s love for you is conditional on your performance, it’s fake and you don’t need that counterfeit currency.
Yoga: Practice your perfect pose.
A perfect pose? Yes.
A perfect pose is the one you’re doing now.
Instead of struggling to achieve some imaginary perfection, choose to fully participate with what’s happening.
See illustration above (That’s me falling out of a Tree pose) — PERFECT!
If you’re not a yoga practitioner, you can become one right this moment. You don’t need a mat, a class, or anything. Simply notice yourself breathing.
No need to control your breathing in any way. Simply be present with it. Bask in it. Enjoy it.
Feel how the air is a little cooler on its way in through the nostrils, and a little warmer on its way out.
Feel the gentle expansion of your rib cage on inhalations, and contraction on exhalations.
Notice how the bottom of an exhale feels, and the top of and inhale. These momentary points of stillness, these punctuation marks of emptiness and fullness. Experience each fully, and allow the next wave of air coming in or going out to carry you, effortlessly, to the next point of stillness.
After a minute or two, notice the effects of the practice on your body-mind. Did something shift, relax, soften? Did you move in more into your Self?
Congratulations. You just practiced yoga. Not only that. You just did a perfect yoga practice.
No conditions attached.
With lots of unconditional love,
Leave a comment below. What was your experience with this breathing practice? How does perfectionism play out in your life? Do you accept my challenge, “Give up the IDEA of perfection to EXPERIENCE perfection”?