Tag Archives: Personal Growth

6-year-old Boy Declares the Word “Perfect” to Be Extinct

By Jennifer Pastiloff

“Mom, why isn’t the word ‘perfect’ extinct since nothing is perfect?”
Will Sherwood, age six

Perfect (adj.): being entirely without fault or defect : flawless <a perfect diamond>

I was teaching yoga to my private client, and I told her that her body was perfect.

She then told me something that her six-year-old son Will said, and I realized the error of my ways.

It is brilliant, and I will now borrow it and use it in class. Quoting Sir Will, of course.

He’s just learned the word “extinct” at school. He comes in and says, “Mom, why isn’t the word ‘perfect’ extinct since nothing is perfect?”

My point exactly, Will! Why hadn’t I said this yet? (Because often six year olds are smarter, more observant, and more honest.)

He made this deduction himself after the constant reminder from his mom that no one is perfect.

As I often say in class: Perfect people are boring people.

I even said it on Good Morning America! (Aren’t they though?)

All jokes aside, at some point I forgave myself for not being perfect. For many years, I struggled with an eating disorder and the feeling that I had to be/look perfect. This nearly killed me, in many ways. I still struggle with this in times of stress, if I am being one hundred percent honest, which I am committed to being. But it’s a silly notion, this extinct idea of striving for perfection, isn’t it?

I am now committing to not being perfect. Because of this commitment, I made my new tagline:

There is no getting it Right, there’s just getting it Awesome.

Conforming absolutely? Ick. Who wants that?

Excellent beyond improvement? Blergh. Yawn.

To be clear, we are perfect. Perfectly imperfect.

Here are some examples of being perfectly imperfect: I can’t hear well so I wear hearing aids. My nephew has Prader Willi Syndrome and Autism, and he is perfect as he is. My friend Emily has one leg. I never booked a job when I was pursuing an acting career. I am extremely disorganized and quite messy.

It’s this idea of perfection as something outside of ourselves; as something better than ourselves; as something someone else has decided. The idea of perfect as something unattainable.

I believe it is most certainly inside each and every one of us already. Let’s unite and give up this notion that it isn’t! Let’s take a stand!

A child’s laugh is perfect. A sunset blue and purple as a bruise is perfect. A good cup of coffee or glass of Cabernet can damn well be perfect.

Check out this poster one of my dearest friends Karen Salmansohn made:

In the comments section, please answer: Where in your own life can you stop trying to be perfect?

I will start. I can stop trying to be perfect when it comes to yoga poses. I cannot press up into a handstand in the center of the room, yet I am a successful yoga teacher. When I do certain poses I feel like a beginner. It’s okay. I am still a damn good teacher!

I can also stop trying to be perfect when it comes to comparing myself to women my age who are pregnant or already have kids, and I haven’t even begun to try. I can stop worrying and trust in divine timing. If it is meant for me, I will make it happen. I am exactly where I am meant to be.

Know this: I support you in your perfect imperfectness. At the core of us, at the root of us, at the very base and also the very highest, we are perfect. And that can never be changed. It is NOT outside of us. Not now. Not ever.


Jennifer Pastiloff was recently featured on Good Morning America. She is a yoga teacher, writer, and advocate for children with special needs based in L.A. She is also the creator of Manifestation Yoga® and leads retreats and workshops all over the world. Jennifer is currently writing a book and has a popular daily blog called Manifestation Station. Find her on Facebook and Twitter and take one of her yoga classes online at Yogis Anonymous.

Jen will be leading a Manifestation Yoga® weekend retreat at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in the Berkshires, Massachusetts Feb 1-3, 2013.

15 Things I Wish I Knew When I Was 15

* Written by Xian Horn

High school-like situations may not end when we graduate (adult relationships, auditions, the workplace), but we can get much better at handling them.

These are the fifteen things I learned the “long” way:

They can keep puberty and daily life (at any age) from being the end of the world.

1. If your love interest (or employer) doesn’t notice, like, or love you “that way,” it does NOT mean there is something wrong with you. It simply means they are wrong for you right now.

2. How people treat you says more about them than it does about you. It’s not always personal or all about you.

3. Everybody has insecurities, they just manifest differently in every person.

4. Bullies and gossips are more insecure than their targets. “Haters” need your sympathy and prayers more than your hurt and anger.

5. Judgment (of yourself or someone else) clouds your clarity of a situation. This can lead to all kinds of misunderstandings and bad decision-making.

6. When you are secure you’re not so easily offended by what people say or think.

7. Envy is a waste of time: if something good happens to someone else, it means it can happen to you. If you can’t have what someone else has, you can have something else better for you.

8. The strongest person is not necessarily the person with the biggest muscles or loudest voice.

9. The beauty in someone else does not take away from the beauty in you. Trust that you have beauty, talents, and gifts—whatever company you keep.

10. You don’t have to do anything to be more beautiful, but you may have to put in work to feel beautiful everyday.

11. Rather than being perfect (flawless), focus being authentic or becoming whole.

12. Loving everybody does not necessarily mean making everyone your BFF. It’s okay to be selective about your inner circle.

13. People-pleasing is the easiest way to lose your authentic self. Don’t let others’ opinions or fear of rejection have power over your God-given gut instinct.

14. Standing for something doesn’t mean standing for everything. Be prepared to disappoint some for the greater good; be prepared to accept those who disagree.

15. The “oops” you have made are not mistakes or regrets per se; they are lessons to help you and/or others do better. It may even be a blessing in disguise. You may not see it now; it may take time to see what the lesson or blessing is. Be patient with yourself. Let your story unfold.


Xian Horn is a joyful half-Asian woman with Cerebral Palsy, serving as writer, mentor, and positivity activist. A member of an international network of extraordinary women, 85 Broads, she was heralded by founder Janet Hanson as an “amazing role model for all women.” With her personal stories and ongoing mentoring work, Xian Horn is invested in contributing positively to self-esteem and the collective self-image, especially for women. To support her True Beauty efforts for people with disabilities, please join Xian’s Facebook community and follow her on twitter here.

Photo by katerha.

The Chopra Well Launches Today!

Deepak Chopra, daughter Mallika, and son Gotham launch their new YouTube channel, The Chopra Well, today! This premium content show features daily programming on topics ranging from meditation to humor to personal growth and much more. It’s a family affair, as Deepak joins forces professionally with his daughter and son for the first time. And take it from us, it packs quite a punch!

The channel’s mission is to spread a positive, accessible, and at times irreverent message about the importance of personal growth for global transformation. After months of preparation, the Chopras are thrilled to launch their channel and to have so much support from their friends and community in developing this vision.

“My father is not only an inspiration to the world, but also to those of us who know him well. It’s been interesting, thrilling and also very fulfilling to work with my brother and father, as well as the incredible team involved in launching The Chopra Well,” said Mallika, also an author and founder of media company Intent.com.

Gotham’s sentiments echo Mallika’s:

“My sister and I have had the incredible good fortune to grow up around great minds who are always pushing the boundaries of innovation and imagination,” said Gotham. “Now – because of the technological tools we have at our disposal, YouTube most notably – we are able to help evolve this community of thinkers to a whole new stratosphere. We no longer need to evangelize change, we can do it, and be it, and share it with one another. And frankly speaking, I think there is an urgency to all of this – we need to rethink the world in which we want to live starting now.”

Dr. Chopra has had this very thing on his mind for a long time. In his words:

“I believe that if 100 million people underwent personal transformation in the direction of peace, harmony, laughter, love, kindness, joy and equanimity the world would be fundamentally transformed,” said Deepak, author of 65 books and co-founder of the Chopra Center for Wellbeing.  “By subscribing to this channel and participating in our community by watching, responding to and interacting with the content, by sharing and uploading your own videos and making comments, we can find the critical mass that will transform this planet.”

Viewers who tune in to The Chopra Well will find it to be a central source for all things relevant to personal transformation, from the inspirational and innovative to the insightful and even irreverent. The Chopra Well content is deep and comprehensive, including an ever-expanding library of video interviews, cutting-edge discussions, thought provoking shows and how-to tips along with exciting conversations with Rainn Wilson, Perez Hilton and other celebrities about their personal journeys.

Playful, profound, and inspiring – The Chopra Well is here at last! Subscribe to our channel, and be present for the future.

What To Do When People Close To You Feel Threatened By Your Personal Growth

Dear Arielle and Brian:

I've made some important changes in my life, especially when it comes to manifesting a soulmate and I’ve begun to have a positive and pro-active attitude. I am noticing how many people in my life, particularly my mother, are having a real issue with my change. Perhaps she is jealous because she has been single for 16 years. Lately, she is very condescending towards me and seems very passive aggressive. Here’s my question: Is it normal when one changes for others have a real issue with it? Is it because they feel threatened? It seems like I never fully realized before the limited thinking, undeserving attitude, and pessimism that surrounds me.  

Thank you,

Nicole

 

Dear Nicole:

When we make big changes, it affects the people closest to us.  It might be best not to share too much with your mother about what you are doing and how you are changing….just love her for who she is and continue to improve yourself.

Maybe at some point when she begins to observe how much happier you are she might decide to make a change as well.

For now, keep creating the space for your own growth and try not to judge your mother or your friends.  Chances are they are not purposely trying to be this way they are just reacting.

If the shoe were on the other foot, and someone close to you had made some changes – for better or worse— you might find yourself a little unsettled until you had the sense that this person still loved you. There is an adjustment period. It’s not unusual that the people that we love feel threatened. 

Your positive changes are threatening to their worldview.  It’s part of the price of making change. Now that you’ve found a better way to live and a better worldview, have faith that eventually your mother and friends will see the merits and benefits and will join you.  You are now holding the bar higher so just be patient and understanding with them.

Wishing you love, laughter and magical kisses,

Arielle and Brian

 

Arielle Ford has spent the past 25 years living and promoting consciousness through all forms of media. She is the author of the international bestselling book, THE SOULMATE SECRET: Manifest The Love of Your Life With The Law of Attraction. Her husband and soulmate Brian Hilliard is a business consultant with a life-long interest in spirituality and the practice of compassion.  They live in La Jolla, CA  www.soulmatesecret.com  and www.soulmatekit.com

 

Transitions: Why is it So Tough to Get Through Them?

It is late September and hundreds of wide-eyed freshman girls, all dressed up and huddled in groups of 4 or 5, are lined up UCLA’s sorority row.  I take this road often and each fall I am reminded of when I was among those girls once. Nervous and excited, I found myself among thousands of people on a vast campus and I spent most of the first quarter figuring out what I was going to make of myself in this new place.

But last week, when I was driving past the sorority houses and the crowds, I asked myself, “How did time go by?”  How can it be that I can still feel so close to that person I was then and yet have a child that is literally the age of the girls that I see before me?”

It feels as if change—or life for that matter— sweeps over us whether we are prepared or not. Research indicates that every 7 years we go through some type of transformation. Moving out, getting a new job and marriage are big markers in our life.  At around age 30 we go through another major upheaval where we reassess our commitments.  Of course everyone has heard of the infamous mid-life crisis and its seismic changes. However the big misconception is that once we get over the mid-life years, our lives become an unbroken plain of constancy.  This is not so.

Transitions are simply the way in which our life unfolds, where we go through a series of expansions and contractions.  So if changes and transitions take place at every juncture of our lives, why is it so difficult to accept it?

Change, in its essence, initiates a process of saying goodbye to a part of our lives. And that process triggers a host of responses, some good, and some that will delay or inhibit our growth.

It's useful to ask ourselves, "What were our experiences in endings before?" How we dealt with childhood transitions and changes may give us insight into how we deal with transitions today. When something in our life comes to an end,  old coping mechanisms  automatically reactivate and we are dealing with some of our residue feelings and responses from an earlier experience.

For some, change is met with resistance, it triggers old patterns of fear of the unknown, confusion, and insecurity. If we don't allow ourselves to process these feelings while making transitions,  our unfinished business will reappear later on. And we all have had our share of feeling like we are spinning our wheels over and over again.

This explains why then, it isn’t a coincidence that we tend to resist the transition itself, which has to do more sense of self, than the external change.  In order for this transition process to take place, we are forced to give up our old pattern of living, mindsets, and ways we respond to ourselves and others.  We find ourselves in an unknown territory that in the well known, best-selling book by William Bridges, "Transitions: Making Sense of Life's Changes" calls "the neutral zone."  

The neutral zone is a place to be embraced and worked through because its a time of emptiness,  inactivity, or restlessness. It is an important stage not to be skipped over because it prepares the ground for new growth and activities—a renewed source of energy and identity.  It is a place where we learn to see ourselves with new eyes, and become inspired to dream new dreams.

This can be the scariest place  for those who don’t deal with transitions easily for it is a place of risk and opportunity.  It changes relationships, it challenges the status quo, and leads you to uncharted territory. Our first instinct is to make this distress more comfortable for ourselves.  We may revert back to the safety of the way things used to be, or jump into some kind of project, activity or relationship to avoid this awkward in-between stage. But the famous saying is “You have to be lost enough to find yourself.”  And as much as we wished we could whizz through this awkward in-between period, we can’t. This period may take weeks or months or even years.

A Rabbi once said one of the wisest words to my son on the day of his Bar Mitzvah, which marks a child’s entry into adulthood.  He put a hand on his shoulder and looked in his eye and said, “Remember, my young man, life is about beginning. Yes beginnings. You will have many beginnings such as this in your life.” (To tell you the truth, I thought I needed to hear that message more than him!)

Yes, beginnings too are markers in our journey. It’s important to become aware of the ways in which we personally begin new stages in our lives —is it through relationships, new projects, or does a new attitude first emerge? For some there may be a flash of an “idea” or an “inspiration” or an “image” that tickles us or calls us from a deep place inside.

What works against us is that we often buy into the idea that we should keep the same dreams and aspirations that we had when we were younger. The natural developmental pattern is not for people to keep the same dreams but to relinquish old dreams and generate new ones throughout their lives. Many of us do not come into our own by the time we are well into our 40’s or 50’s. Consider Abraham Lincoln, Ghandi, Eleanor Roosevelt, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Walt Whitman — there is a long list of names of famous people who began anew in the midst of adult life transition. So why not us?

I was once asked in an interview, if I had to start over, what would I do differently. I have started over many times; I went from teaching at the university to facilitating women’s groups, and then becoming a writer and speaker.  What would I do differently?  My answer was not about a change in activity but a change in attitude. I would have been kinder and more patient with myself. I would have given myself more completely to whatever I did, even if they were false starts. I have come to realize that the degree to which we give ourselves away to people, to life and its ensuing changes, the more fully we embrace our own unique journey.

Do I Dare Disturb The Universe?

I just attended ACT II, a biannual gathering of entrepreneurial leaders from across the Aspen Institute’s global network of fellows. The theme for this year was “Stepping Up” – i.e. how to use our creativity, energy, and resources to make a big dent in the world. I was asked to open the luncheon on Saturday with some poetry. This definitely rocked my world.  

I began by reciting excerpts of T.S. Elliot’s The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, in which the speaker leads the listener through a purgatory of existential wanderings, what-ifs, an
d hints of an overwhelming question yet to be revealed. But the answer to how should we presume and where should we begin – these and all other answers – are left to Elliot’s audience. Just as, ultimately, each of us must face our own inner doubts, fears, indolence, and disillusionment, in the course of our wonderings, before deciding “Do I Dare Disturb the Universe.” 

I finished with a recitation of Rilke’s Dove that Ventured Outside, which also squeezes the universe into a ball and rolls it towards the question of how boldly to live and courageously to act. It suggests that tenderness and satisfaction can only come when one has flown beyond the safety and security of our own personal borders. It is in some way a love poem, but one much broader than a simple romantic tale. I hear it as a story of humanity, and a challenge for us to win back each other’s hearts by venturing out, stepping up, disturbing the universe, and working for something greater than what we see in front of us.

As we arch ourselves across the vast abyss of our days and ways, what can we do to impact the lives of others? Are we content to measure out our lives in coffee spoons or will we give more generously of our time, our capacity, our curiosity? As an old friend used to say: you don’t have to be a rock star to change the world. Action over entropy. The choice is yours.

Ah the ball that we dared, that we hurled into infinite space,

Doesn’t it fill our hands differently with its return;

Heavier by the weight of where it has been.

Here’s one place to start choosing more consciously: http://www.facebook.com/FromGoodForGood

 

Summer Solstice: Hot, Spicy, Sensual, and Delicious

Today is the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, and in Native traditions, the time of strongest and most vibrant life.

Whether in nature or in your internal being, whether you know it or not, the energy is most conducive on June 21 to busting loose, living and living fully.

Most importantly, June 21 is the most auspicious day to break free of routine.

We are creatures of habit. We tend toward the same foods, same music, even, as Elizabeth Gilbert mentions in Eat, Pray, Love, the same masturbatory fantasies.

As Gilbert writes, "As usual, my mind paged through its backlog of erotic files looking for the right fantasy or memory that would help get the job done fastest. But nothing was really working tonight—not the firemen, not the pirates, not the pervy-old Bill Clinton standby scene that usually does the trick, not even the Victorian gentlemen crowding around me in their drawing room with their task force of nubile young maids."

Can you relate? A little frustrated with the sameness and routines of life?

Do you need that kick in the butt to change things up a bit?

Trying different music, food, style…is uncomfortable, it stretches you and as a first time yoga student will attest, stretching can be intensely painful.

But as a wise one said, "Get busy living…or get busy dying."

Following are 3 suggestions for not waiting another second and mixing it up NOW:

1. Go into Whole Foods and ask a knowledgeable employee for their favorite exotic food…something completely different that you’ve never tasted before. For instance, the other day I tried an oyster flavored chocolate from Vosges. WHAT? It was amazing!

2. Go into a music store, book store, or library (there aren’t many left) and ask the person working there for a GREAT book or album they’d like to recommend. My brother discovers new music by going into Amoeba Records in LA and blindly asking what’s new and good. And if you’re looking for a recommendation, check out Wade Morissette’s “Tara.” Mellow, different, funky, deep.

3. Try some food with your yoga and come to my Yoga for Foodies event tomorrow Wednesday June 22 in New York City. Visit here for what will be a brand new kind of fun! I’m collaborating with Chef Andrea Beaman who was on Bravo’s Top Chef (Season 1). Please call The Culinary Loft today to make a reservation as there only a few spots left. 212.431.7425

For Valentines Day: Heart Matters and Clearing Old Hurts

Old heartbreaks. Old arguments. Old relationship hurts. For some people, these can fuel an endless loop of painful replay which crowds out new ideas, new feelings and even new relationships. We know that on one level that the healthiest thing we can do is to disconnect from the old stories and find new ones. However, sometimes we find ourselves still chewing on the same raw taste of how others seem to have hurt us, even though we know better and people keep telling us we need to “release that!”

Our reactions in relationships are mirrors containing some of most potent information available for learning more about our selves and so can become even more happy, more healthy and more whole by using this knowledge.

If you find yourself unable to let go of old heartaches and are still mulling, occasionally or constantly (whereupon your friends will start calling you obsessive), on them, here are some metaphysical perspectives on how to use this to develop a deeper capacity to understand who you are and who you are becoming.

Want to feel better?

We all know someone who won’t put old resentments down or who retains unhappy relationship memories as an excuse, overtly or covertly, for not committing to new ones. It might seem obvious then that the crucial first step is a real willingness to evolve past old hurts. Without an intention or desire to be free, nothing will change. In essence, a person has to be willing to ask “Who would I be if I were no longer upset?” and be okay with the answer. Some people are not comfortable without the crutch of making others responsible for their reactions or the energy that feeling misused provides them. It is no use asking these folks to change, so we probably should all stop in these cases.

If someone is open to feeling clearer, there are good reasons to find ways to release old grievances. Living a life where external events and other people’s actions have so much power over the internal condition is really no fun. It is more interesting and more alive to fully comprehend the truth that no one can dictate how we feel but ourselves and use that as a springboard to move forward. So, a good starting point is to acknowledge our emotions, accept that we feel hurt and then decide we are going to feel better.

Gather resources and tools

In situations where someone has been dam- aged from an experience, often the best initial step is to meet with professionals such as psychologists, doctors or spiritual counselors to see what relief can be found from these resources. In other cases, the continual thinking about the other person or their past actions could indicate that an active energetic or psychic bond, either conscious or unconscious, remains. Here are some ideas for effective clearing methods.

Quiet meditations visualizing cutting or remov- ing the tie between you and the old person can be helpful.  A handy one for tough cases might be picturing your personal Sumo Wrestler Guides rolling in and yanking the energetic connection cord, stomping it to pieces and sending it off in the Universal Garbage Truck. Another avenue to explore is working with energy healers such as Shamen and Reiki Masters, who can often untangle stubbornly held energetic knots.  Try breathing, movement, mediation – any option that helps shake things up in there.

If it’s resistant, then it’s persistent for an important reason

If you have done all of the above and old hurtful stuff keeps resurfacing, the bottom line is that the mirror of relationships, which is your feelings stimulated by them, is signaling that there is still information about your self to be gained from looking at the event. Your negative feelings about the old situation is a communication from yourself to yourself, that somewhere on your inner hard drive you are telling yourself some- thing that is not true. I’ve noticed the memory loop continues for many people as long as they are processing untrue (for them) beliefs about their selves, about others or about relationships. As soon as the past event is correctly interpreted, the inner self’s need to replay it goes away; the memory starts feeling more neutral because the personal issue causing the hot button reaction has been identified.

A famous quote from Osho says: “Truth is a radical, personal realization. You have to come to it.” The next step is locating your underlying, untrue assumptions that are creating the negative feeling around the hurt. Sometimes it is a belief about the nature of relationships. For instance, people hold the notion that the relationship is supposed to supply things they need. But, the truth is that no relationship can give us anything that we are not giving to ourselves. If we aren’t giving the self enough time, enough trust, enough healing or enough space, then no relationship in this existence can provide it. Often, the underlying notion that people are being prompted to notice revolves around deeply held beliefs that somehow they are not good enough or lovable enough. Therefore, when another person doesn’t seem to love them or value them, the event feels very painful. The feeling and the replay point out what is really true—that others can- not make us feel unworthy, we do it to ourselves—and that loving our- selves unconditionally is necessary not just for great relationships, but also for great life experiences.

Replacement parts

By finding old inner assumptions that aren’t true and replacing them with personal truths, we eventually develop a new operative awareness for perceiving relationship (and other) experiences. The awareness of sadness or disappointment in our heart can softly switch towards the desire to feel great and bring in more fulfilling events. We don’t really release past experiences or emotions; they remain part of our personal tapes- try, but we can find a new, more healthy and happy understanding to support our future relationships. In doing this, we remake old negative events into tools for deeper and more positive self-awareness.

 

This article is also in Catalyst Magazine this month. To find out more about Superconscious Relationships: The Simple Psychic Truths of Perfectly Satisfying Connections, Margaret Ruth’s new book from O Books Publishing, go to www.superconsciousrelationships.com or email MR@MARGARETRUTH.COM, for more details.

PHOTO (cc): Flickr / bird ghosts

Temporarily Out Of Balance: Going Through A Phase

In the process of becoming, we can become out of balance temporarily, but know it is only a phase and will pass.

We are all almost always in the process of learning something new, developing an underused ability or talent, or toning down an overused one. Some of us are involved in learning how to speak up for ourselves, while others are learning how to be more considerate. In the process of becoming, we are always developing and fine tuning one or the other of our many qualities, and it is a natural part of this process that things tend to get out of balance. This may be upsetting to us, or the people around us, but we can trust that it’s a normal part of the work of self-development.

For example, we may go through a phase of needing to learn how to say no, as part of learning to set boundaries and take care of ourselves. During this time, we might say no to just about everything, as a way of practicing and exploring this ability. Like a child who learns a new word, we want to try out this new avenue of expression and empowerment as much as we can because it is new and exciting for us and we want to explore it fully. In this way, we are mastering a new skill, and eventually, as we integrate it into our overall identity, it will resume its position as one part of our balanced life.

In this process, we are overcompensating for a quality that was suppressed in our life, and the swinging of the pendulum from under-use to overuse serves to bring that quality into balance. Understanding what’s happening is a useful tool that helps us to be patient with the process. In the end, the pendulum settles comfortably in the center, restoring balance inside and out.

Mistakes Are Just Growth Opportunities

Perfectionism is particularly harmful because brain research shows that at birth, the brain is "wired" to track success and discard failure. But perfectionism focuses exclusively on failure–you didn’t do it right, you idiot–so we never learn and continue to create exactly what we don’t want to.

W. Timothy Gallwey, author of The Inner Game of Work and other books, notes that we can change any habit if we "take off our judgmental glasses" and simply increase our awareness of what we are doing. Awareness without self-judgment, he claims, creates change all by itself because the brain is a self-correcting mechanism. The more we just notice to ourselves, for instance, “Oh there I go again, being so worried about doing it right that I’m not doing anything at all,” as if we were a newspaper reporter objectively stating just the facts, the more the behavior will disappear. The trick is to do it without beating ourselves up.

Think of it this way. When a baby taking her first steps falls, she doesn’t say to herself, “Stupid baby, you just fell over.” Rather, she just picks herself up, incorporates the learning, and tries again. That’s why she learns so quickly. We can begin to get ourselves off the perfectionist meat hook by understanding that when we treat ourselves to the same encouraging manner we use with a child learning algebra or a new sport, we actually increase our capacity to do things well.

That’s how my friend Allison broke free. One day, she heard her five-year-old daughter cry out “I can’t do anything right!” after failing to separate an egg properly. Says Allison, “I heard myself, and I knew history would repeat itself unless something changed. I took her in my arms, dried her tears, and urged her to try, try again.” After that incident, she began telling her daughter, “Oh well, mistakes happen.” Soon she was saying it to herself as well.

PHOTO (cc): Flickr / Kayla C

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