“Be grateful of your imperfections” and how to deal with your perfectionism when it’s on fire.
This morning I went to my yoga class and I felt it was custom made for me. Usually the teacher dedicates the first minutes of the practice to reflect about something that we also can apply in our daily life, not just on the mat. I love practicing with Cristina as she not only does this, but also she does very interesting workshops focused on women.
Today she guided us through breathing exercises, and at some point she invited us to listen our bodies to see our reaction while she said one sentence. The words were “be grateful of your imperfections”. I invite you also to close your eyes, take some deep breaths, repeat this sentence for yourself and see what happens.
It’s like a calming shower, don’t you think so? When she said these words I thought she was reading my thoughts, as this sentence was a relief for what was boiling on my mind. This week I have been struggling a lot with the thought of “I don’t know how I’m going to do all this”. I know, it’ s a very abstract and generic sentence and of course a toxic one so it does not help at all to repeat this in my mind.
What I mean for “all this” in my case is basically:
- To keep going making Otter growing and sustainable (and all the stuff that comes in the startup pack).
- Look for new freelance projects as I want to have different sources of income and also have new challenges to grow myself collaborating with other people & projects (not just working on my own business).
- Learn how to code. I want to be able to do my new website by myself as a way to start learning the skill that will make me more self-sufficient and expand my mind.
So you might think this sounds great, as I have my goals in mind and it looks like it’s just a matter of keep on going and have new goals to grow. Yes it is, but I discover that the more I grow or the bigger the challenges that I’m facing, the feeling of being a fraud is bigger too. This sounds like an «impostor syndrome» calling, right? Correct answer.
It’s funny because while I was writing this article I found by coincidence an article about the impostor syndrome quite interesting: “The five types of Impostor Syndrome”, based on the book of the expert Valerie Young The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women: Why Capable People Suffer From the Imposter Syndrome and How to Thrive in Spite of It. As you might imagine, I have just already bought the book.
Reading this for me has been about connecting the dots as I have never thought of my perfectionism as a pattern who drives me to the impostor syndrome. But it is one of the five types. It has sense perfectionism and impostor syndrome go both hand-by-hand. I normally set high goals for me, and I used to feel blocked while I was waiting for everything to be perfect before taking the next step. I was lucky to work almost three years in Runroom, where I had to learn how to accept that everyone (even myself!) can make mistakes and that sometimes “shit happens”.
And I specially keep in mind a sentence that Carlitos, one of the founders, said often at the agile team retrospectives we did: “we have to believe that all the members here tried to do their best”. I think often about this also to apply it to myself now that I work a lot alone, so this mindset helps me a great deal to grow my confidence before doing any next step and also reviewing the things I’ve done. Of course since I launched my own business I have to overcome this everyday and not let my perfectionism be an stopper. I have the responsibility to do so, as Otter is not about me, it’s about a project that is alive and where other people (our amazing carpenters and customers) are involved. So I think about them every time I’m thinking too much and not taking action just because I think things are not perfect yet.
I would like to leave here some of the things I have to remember every time when my friend perfectionism appears (which is almost every day):
Just do it
Simple as that. Just watch the video every time you are blocked.
Yes, in capital letters. I think this applies for all of us who are starting our own businesses and for the ones who are navigating already in the growth and success. In my opinion when you have a perfectionist pattern and you are also ambitious (as it happens to me) you will always want more and you will always be thinking how to improve everything. I think this can be a great combination, but when perfectionism is on fire it can be also the path for frustration & impostor syndrome issues. So I think this Gary Vaynerchuk video helps to remember to not lose your precious time with mental noise. Every minute counts.
Don’t take things personally
As humans it’s really easy to close to ourselves when we are trapped in things we worry about, things we have to solve, life expectations and often the fear caused by what other people will think if you do this or that… Mental noise again = garbage. Since we are social beings we give a lot of power to people we are attached to and also to people outside our lives. So when we are perfectionists we can be quite control freaks and try to control the reactions around us taking care (in my case) to be nice to others, avoid conflict or expect others have a good opinion of us. It’s a nice thing to learn and release not taking things always personally, as every person has their own universe and context so not all reactions have a direct connection from what you do. Remember what Carlitos from Runroom said that the important thing to keep in mind is that you did your best and you put your authentic intention on it.
Talk to yourself as if you where your best friend.
This is still the most challenging and difficult thing for me. I practice yoga almost every day because of it. It helps me to find a space in my daily life to put this in practice with my own body and mind. I am super empathic with others, respectful, tolerant… but when it comes to myself (and “thanks” to perfectionism) I can be very hard on myself, and extremely demanding in a way I’m never to others.
Practicing yoga helped me a lot on this since the first day in a practical way I had to learn (otherwise can be very frustrating) to accept that my hands didn’t arrive to my feet and it’s ok, that there are asanas the first time you do them you feel like a joke and it’s ok. So all of this comes from accepting that this is not about looking for perfection but it is about respecting the “limits” of your body and how it is today.
One day during a class of Yin Yoga I had a visualization about me hugging myself as a child and I said sorry to myself for being so hard on me. I realized it was the best ritual I have to be nice with myself as I’m not capable of being tough with my child-essence. So I think it’s helpful to think about yourself also as the child you were to talk with yourself with more love and compassion.
I know my perfectionist side will be on fire again. So I think I will return to this post to remember to myself I have already the resources to overcome the bad kind of perfectionism. Let our perfectionism be the tool to make the difference and build our ideas from our best side.
I also want to say thanks to my yoga teacher Cristina to inspire this post and put light every day in my dark side by helping me starting for accepting it. Namasté.