With the start of the new school year our hopes and expectations of perfection run high for our children and their teachers, our friends and colleagues, our loved ones and ourselves. Consequently, the Let It Go Yoga challenge of the month is to let go of the perfection.
Perfection is defined as “an impossibility, something unattainable, something that cannot be reached… ever.” Logically speaking the discussion should end here, however, we subject ourselves to the pressure of being perfect daily. Research has shown that pressure to not make errors can easily take toll on one’s health. Hormone levels rise as a response to stress. Chronically elevated levels of cortisol cause a myriad of health concerns, ranging from heart disease to memory impairment. We all know that. And we still do that to ourselves and to those around us. Sometimes even proven and published research results leave my brain and heart unable to hear them. Then I so appreciate the gentle and beautiful way poet Leonard Cohen reminds to us:
Ring the bells that still can ring.
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything.
That’s how the light gets in.
The way to let the light in is to let go of the perfection “on” and “off” the yoga mat.
Here are 7 tips to help us.
1. Invite mistakes to be your friends.
They are part of your growth and development. Get to know them! Ask : “What am I supposed to learn from the situation when I made a mistake, when I misspoke, when I messed up, when…?” Take a breath, smile, look the mistake in the eyes and say: ”I know you. Thank you. You are actually good for me. You give me the gift of learning. ” It is a humbling and glorious journey!
2. Let go of your own personal definitions of failures.
Have you ever said to yourself: ”My yoga pose looks like a failure (because I can not reach, flex, stretch this or that part of my body)!” We all tend to name our imperfections, and by naming and defining them we give power to them. However, if we don’t define our own perceived deficits, we are more likely to choose a different angle to look at them : “ Wow, this twisted triangle of mine looks really interesting!” Yes, yes and yes! It actually was breathtakingly beautiful from the very start, from the moment you mindfully started being aware of how your body moves.
3. Choose your everyday words wisely.
Pay attention to when and how you use the actual word “perfect” in your conversations. Try using it (the big “P” word!) less often thus not priming yourself for the need to see perfection everywhere. Use other words: splendid, accomplished, superb, excellent, imposing, terrific, fierce, beautiful et cetera.
4. Pay attention to situations when you procrastinate.
Question those. Recognize the paralysis that the need to have a perfect result creates, as you tend to put things off again, and again and again. The fear of not achieving the perfect result keeps us all from that next step. Let that “need to have a perfect result” go. Let yourself be and just take the next level of yoga class, or teachers’ training course, or a singing lesson, or anything that brings joy and challenge into your life!
5. Watch your people pleasing skills.
Starting from early childhood days we tend to please others, live up to their expectations, so that we can be the perfect projections of our parents’ and teachers’ (imaginary perfect) kids and students. Some of us carry that over into our adulthood as well. See, if you can notice it and may be question it. It is not a bad thing in its own right, unless you start being not you – unless you become a hologram of other people’s expectations.
6. Be aware that “good enough” is truly enough.
Watch your loved ones’ responses to your set rules : your specific and perfect ways of loading the dishwasher, your specific ways of dressing your children, folding laundry… the list is endless. Think of the projected expectations that come with those rules. Think of your perfectionism that gets in the way of living your life fully and allowing others to do the same. The reactions to your perfectly set rules might hold the clues as to when and why you should take a deep breath and say: ”Yes, thank you, your way is good enough. Actually, it is perfect as is.”
7. Celebrate the imperfections as….
you are perfect exactly the way you are. We all are – wonderful, unique, full of mistakes and idiosyncrasies, peculiarities and quirks, love and kindness, frustrations and anger, tears and laughter. All at the same time.
Contributed by Indra Strong: Indra is a Certified Let It Go Yoga teacher and has taught yoga to children and adults for many years. She is currently teaching yoga to preschool children at “My Special School” in Santa Barbara. Contact: Indra: at email@example.com