The autumn is a time of introspection in the Jewish calendar, reviewing the past year and one’s own role within it. Seeing how we missed the mark and setting the intention to do better in the upcoming year. We all fall short at times but that does not make us wrong. When we broaden a wrong behavior to, “I am wrong,” we can become paralyzed with negative self-talk. Reflection works better when it is used to increase our awareness for the need to improve and provide insight as to how the change, improvement, might take place – both the process and the result.
Change, and its gentler relative transition, can be difficult; perhaps the excuse of “we’re wrong or bad at” gives us a way out of dealing with making changes. However, it is often during times of transition that there is the greatest growth, even when these transitions are thrust upon us, like finding out about heart disease. Change offers the possibility of embracing life differently.
For most of people to take on new behaviors and attitudes, starting with small steps which require learning one habit at a time allows for the habit to develop overtime. You may need reminders to cue you to follow through with a new behavior or attitude. If you get sidetracked, no need to beat yourself up; imperfection is inherent to being human. By embracing your imperfections, you embrace yourself. In the embrace you can reflect on what went right as well as what went wrong, allow yourself to learn and move forward with curiosity as to how things will turn out next time.
Here are a few habits you might want to embrace one at a time to deal with your “saboteur” of perfectionism.
1) Break down the goals into small parts – for example eating healthy – low sodium, increase fruits and vegetables, low fat content, 30 grams fiber a day; as well as planning the meals and snacks, shopping, preparing and using portion control; each part is an opportunity for success.
2) Become aware of your successes and challenges along the way. Acknowledge yourself for the successes; it can be as small a gesture as giving yourself a smile and 2 thumbs up.
Where did you do well? Where did you fall short and what got in the way? Following the above example – I was too hungry to prepare properly; I was angry so I ate the higher fat food which I enjoy. These are areas which could use better planning.
3) Recapture the feeling of success from here you are more empowered to come up with a plan for success to overcome anticipated challenges.
4) The kernel of value, in reviewing where you have been look for the kernel of value. Even when you disappoint yourself look for what was of value in the experience; what was the benefit to you or others in how you did what you did? This is not a rationalization; rather it is a way to see another perspective.
What are some of the ways you deal with being imperfect? How do you avoid using imperfection as a whip which can wear you down?