How perfect: Kintsugi proves you don't have to be
Imperfection makes it more beautiful
I am writing an article about ditching perfectionism. But I’m doing one more revision to make it perfect. Ironic, isn’t it?
Perfection is pointless. There I said it. Stubborn perfectionism can make life miserable. Being around a perfectionist who finds faults in everything you and they do is a real downer. I know because I am a perfectionist in recovery. We perfectionists can be so hard on ourselves. I sometimes cannot believe the critical thoughts that enter my mind. It’s not healthy.
I’m trying to let go of my perfectionism. I’m working towards making progress on projects instead of needing them to be perfect. Something completed fine is better than an incomplete project waiting to be perfect. Imperfect is good.
Ditch the urge to be perfect
Perfectionism is not a quest for the best. It is a pursuit of the worst in ourselves, the part that tells us that nothing we do will ever be good enough.” Julia Cameron
You tell us, Julia. If I can let go of decisions, projects, or solutions that are not perfect, it helps take the pressure off. I’m going to start with finding the “perfect gift” for everyone this holiday season. I’m also trying to cut those around me some slack by focusing on what they are doing well rather than mistakes. Yes, it takes practice, which brings me to the next tip.
I’m trying to take Sam Bennett’s advice from her book Get it done. “Try replacing the word perfectionism with goodish. Goodism is about acknowledging that good can be good enough.”
Focus on the journey
I saw a piece on the TV show CBS Sunday Morning that helped bring this lesson home to me. A young man joined his high school swim team in Texas because he couldn’t swim. Yes, you read that right. This was possible because a successful athlete on this team was one who did not get disqualified. The bar was set low.
Gerald Hodges was a decent athlete outside of the pool. But he knew he needed to learn how to not be good at something. Joining the swim team was his way to learn that lesson.
Praise progress, not perfection
Perfectionism can hamper achievement. To get things done, I try to give myself less time to complete the project and stop aiming for perfection. Today’s article is an example of this. I need to finish by the time my son comes home from school even if I would prefer to tweak it more. Sometimes spending less time on something sometimes makes it even better. Go figure.
This does not mean I should not strive for growth, excellence, and achievement. But I don’t have to do this in everything I do.
Highlight your imperfections
One of the best greeting cards I’ve ever seen is by Emily McDowell. It has a picture of a bowl fixed with kintsugi. The message reads: “In Japan, broken objects are often repaired with gold. The flaw is seen as a unique piece of the object’s history, which adds to its beauty. Consider this when you feel broken.”
What does kintsugi mean? Kin means gold. Tsugi means to join. Thus, kintsugi means to join with gold. According to this Zen aesthetic, damaged ceramics shouldn’t be thrown away. Instead, they still deserve our care and attention. Gather together the broken and smashed up pieces. Then glue them back together, but not in a way that disguises the break. Highlight the cracks with a special lacquer mixed with gold, silver, or platinum. The end result highlighting the fault-lines is often more beautiful than the original. The repaired piece’s damage and vulnerability, in turn, make it beautiful and strong.
Perfectionism is armor.” Brené Brown
Perfectionism is a defense mechanism we use when we are afraid of blame, judgment, and shame. I’m trying to embrace that I am perfectly imperfect. Will you join me?
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