Striving for Perfection

The Enneagram has quickly become my newest obsession. The podcasts, the books, the websites, the quizzes! I’ve retaken the assessments on more than one site hoping for a different result but they’re all the same. I am a 1 on the Enneagram: The Perfectionist.

Perfectionism has long been a personal struggle. It’s not been until recently that I’ve really sat and looked at the role this characteristic plays in my life.  Perfection not only equates added stress, it also adds an element of shame. Nothing I do will EVER be done well enough to suit my lofty standard. That critical voice is always there telling me what wasn’t good enough, how I wasn’t good enough. Add this to a childhood of healthy Catholic guilt and you’ve got a perfect storm for a life full of unhealthy shame and self criticism.

Counseling has helped immensely. Studying the Enneagram has added new strategies that help even more.  The most beneficial strategies for me have been gratitude journaling and morning mindfulness. Starting my day focusing on the positives in my life in addition to setting the intentions for the day have completely changed my life. Is everyday sunshine and rainbows? Nope, not even close. This week in particular I’m struggling with change. So my mindfulness meditation is for transformation: to willingly open my heart and mind to grow, change and evolve. I will continue to look for podcasts to help open my thinking, to flex and bend to adapt and change.

This week’s theme certainly seems to be grace. It’s ok to give yourself a break. It’s ok to be flawed and broken. You’re still worthy of love and acceptance. Things are going to be ok.

Falling Asleep With A Dream

Yesterday was a particularly tough day. I was not able to adapt and adjust my day well at all and it ended with a skipped workout, cookies for supper, and a text from my son who was dealing with a disappointing situation. I sat at my computer looking at all of the challenges stacked up for the next few days, trying to think of things to help my son, all while asking how on earth will it all get done and done well???

Turns out it doesn’t matter to anyone other than me if the standards are referenced in my lesson plans. It’s me who knows if some minute detail was left out of my presentation. There will always be something not quite right, or another thing to tweak for next time. And guess what? It’s ALL OK.

Is it any surprise to anyone that I tend to be a perfectionist? It’s one of the most frustrating personality traits for me to deal with. It keeps me from really letting down my guard and really enjoying things in the moment. I’ve been studying the Enneagram recently and WOW! It’s opened my mind to some different ways to deal with and respond to life. If you haven’t, I’d recommend the Podcast and book The Road Back to You, as well as finding an Enneagram quiz to help find your Enneagram number. Its really fascinating!

Once I realized my presentation was fine as it was, that I needed sleep more than more details, and that nothing I thought I could have done differently would change the outcome of the day, I finally felt some peace. No the day wasn’t perfect. No things didn’t happen the way I would have liked. My boys told me how much they loved me. My students were excited to see me. I slept more than 5 hours. I realized the bigger picture- the dreams I have for the future and how steps I’m taking now help that all come to fruition.

So keep those pie in the sky dreams going. Not all of the plans have to be done now. Just know that I’m the meantime there’s a bigger purpose for you than the minutiae you’re stressing over.