Perfectionism and Hula Hoops
“There is a flaw in everything God has made.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
Occasionally, I like to fool myself into thinking that I am perfect, that I know it all and can do it all. I most definitely like to make sure that you (whoever you are) see only my perfection. Obviously an impossible standard to maintain for a mere human living through the human experience. But, thus are the rules of my ego when allowed to run amok. Fortunately, I receive regular opportunities to be humbled by my imperfection and these little “ego busters” keep me relatively right sized and teachable.
This isn’t to say that my ego won’t immediately flare when my “perfect” image is being challenged. For example, I recently created a new Facebook Page for my coaching business and promptly invited all my Facebook friends to “like” the page. I’d check the page every now and then and new likes would be appearing along with the occasional positive review. Then Sunday afternoon comes and there’s a 2 (of 5) rating in the reviews. OMG, I thought my head was going to explode with just the thought of the exposure of my brand new business to a negative comment! Can you hear my ego screaming from your display?
Once I was able to check the page from my home desktop (two tortured hours later) I was able to see who posted the review and knew it was likely a typo and not an intentional action. So, I just immediately emailed her to ask her to correct it. Now, that relieved me on a professional level but didn’t help my perfectionist nature in the slightest. My perfect public image was still flawed and I couldn’t do a darned thing about it. That’s the way a review works, right-wrong, good-bad, it sits on your record unless the person who wrote it changes it.
I share this story because all of our lives are packed full of things that are beyond our ability to control. Focusing on and stressing out about these things can easily lead us to an almost countless variety of compensatory behaviors… if we are not paying close attention to our feelings. Does eating a pint of Hagen Daz while on an Amazon shopping spree resonate with anyone?
Fortunately, we do have tools that can stop us from acting out from stress and mental anguish. It starts with accepting the fact that our direct influence is actually quite limited. I like to visualize a hula hoop around me. Inside… all mine, outside… not so much. Even knowing that no matter how badly I wanted to eliminate that bad rating, it gave me pause to know that it was beyond my control.
So, instead of avoiding the emotional discomfort by acting out, I chose to just accept the situation and let go. The fact of the matter was that rating might have stayed up there forever, so I was going to have to accept it eventually and it might as well be now. Just minutes after making that decision, my heart had lightened and I was able to focus on something else. To finish the release, I chose to work on something affirming and well within my circle of control, which left me with a feeling of positive accomplishment… instead of powerless angst.
36 hours later, my friend had figured out how to remove the rating and it was gone. Had I eaten the ice cream and bought the next shiny Amazon object, the problem would have still been resolved, but I would have then had to deal with the remorse that always follows trying to escape from my feelings.
So, now I present the questions to you… How do you respond to those situations that vex you? Especially when they are beyond your reach to control? What do you do when you can’t make them go away? Do you accept and ride out the feelings? Do you fight them off? Or, do you avoid them altogether with food, shopping, drink, cigarettes, sex, etc…?
In my world, it is much safer and happier to just let go and avoid the extra grief and wreckage that comes from behaving in ways that I will later regret.
Until next week, thank you for reading. I appreciate your visit and comments!