Why accepting imperfection makes your life perfect
I think perfections is overrated! So you want to be perfect? Paint the perfect painting? Bake the perfect cake? Be the perfect wife? Be the perfect mother? Be the perfect daughter?You bet you do, because this is what we see all around us, perfect images of perfect lives. So many ‘likes’ and ‘loves’ that we’ve come to believe that we need to up our game, smarten our act, learn more and work harder to achieve perfection. But what if we could accept that being less than perfect was ok, in fact, it is better than ok, it’s almost perfect!
It’s ok to get a B-
Perfection is something that I aspire too. In my work, in my life, pretty much in everything I do. But sometimes I think that constantly striving for perfection leads to unhappiness. I’m not suggesting that it’s ok to do shoddy work, or not give your best, but sometimes you have to accept that your best is good enough, in fact it can be much more than good enough. We’d all like an A*, but sometimes it’s ok to get a B-. That’s what I learnt this week when I listened to an interview by life coach Susie Moore. Suzie said that “good enough, is good enough, lose all the pressure, take the pressure off being perfect!”
How do you take the pressure off being perfect?
I’m all for taking the pressure off whenever I can, or so I think. Yet I am my own worst enemy when it comes to evaluating my art work. When I post a painting on social media it may get lots of ‘likes’ but if I don’t think it’s the best thing I’ve ever done, then I kind of devalue them. Almost to the point where I wonder why they are liking my painting at all. Does this sound a little crazy? does it sound at all familiar? When someone says ‘you look good in that’ do you immediately think, ‘yes, but not as good as I could look’ or do you thank them and enjoy the moment? I suspect, that like me, your first thought might be that I’m not as good as I could be. Wouldn’t it be great if you could just enjoy the compliment and accept yourself for where you are right now?
The search for perfection leads to procrastination
The constant strive for getting it just right can be a real hindrance for an artist, or in fact anyone. Because the feeling that you’re not going to get it right, not going to paint the perfect picture can stop you dead in your tracks. I know because for the last ten years this fear has made me procrastinate to the point where I would do anything rather than just paint. I would have “just one more cup of tea”, “just quickly hoover”, “just check my email”, just, anything rather than face my fear of imperfection. Even writing this blog post takes such an effort to push through the fear of not being good enough. This procrastination can lead to stress, self doubt even self loathing at times. It’s a high price to pay for perfection.
We need acceptance not perfection
I have come to accept that I will never paint the perfect painting and I probably won’t ever write the perfect blog post! I may love it today, but I probably won’t feel the same way tomorrow, next week, or next year. I can only paint the painting that I am able to paint today. The important thing is to make the painting. Show up in the studio. Put the paint on the board and then put the painting out into the world. Whatever people think about it is not my concern, that’s up to them and it’s not personal. Whenever I go into the studio fear is sitting on my shoulder telling me that I’m wasting my time, that my painting isn’t as good as ‘another artist’. These are just self limiting beliefs, and they’re not true and they’re not helpful. I’m learning to accept the fear but make art anyway.
Forget your perfect offering!
One of my favourite lyrics is by the late great Leonard Cohen, Anthem
I am reminded of this song whenever I think a painting is not quite perfect and I let the light in…
My work is already perfect
Until this year I have experienced my art practice as work, something that I strived to do well but the results always fell short of my expectations. Lately I have come to realise that my art practice is my joy and place of refuge. Some days I like what I paint, sometimes I don’t. The reality is it doesn’t matter, it’s just a painting, I will make many more paintings. The wonderful thing is that all of my paintings are uniquely mine, no-one else could have made them. They are perfect, just the way they are. So the next time someone says ‘you look great’ believe them, feel good about yourself and know that you really are perfect just the way you are.
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