This one’s for all the perfectionists out there. By which I mean those of you who futz over things until they’re “just so.” And those of you who can get paralyzed come decision time because you want to make the “right” choice. Or who notice yourself rejecting a lot of what you hear from others because in your head, the crap they’re spewing doesn’t line up with what you know to be “true”.
(Hint: It’s easy to be a perfectionist and not know it. I never identified as a perfectionist – you should see how crazy I look when I leave the house sometimes! – yet I definitely spent years feeling the need to be right.)
I want to drop something on you that I hope will blow your mind. Maybe not right away, but let it sink in and see what kinds of tendrils it sprouts:
There are no mistakes.
Nope, not even one. Not even that one thing that immediately popped in your head when you read it. Everything, everything, that happens shows up to give us the opportunity to grow into the person we’re capable of being.
So what does this have to do with papayas?
One of my clients was butting up against this need to be right. It was primarily showing up in her relationship with her husband. She kept backseat driving him, literally—as in when they were in the car together and he was driving—and metaphorically.
First we simply focused on being aware of when her ideas about what was the “right” way to go about things showed up. That’s it. The first step in changing any habit is always awareness.
Then I gave her an assignment: Do what you “don’t do.” If you always do things a certain way, giving yourself a new experience is pretty much guaranteed growth—even if you throw some major mental tantrums along the way. It wasn’t an instantaneous fix. Things seemed a lot safer the old way, my client said. At first she felt like she was just proving that she had been right all along.
And then she watched her husband cutting a papaya. She didn’t chime in with how he should be doing it, she just watched. And she saw that while, yes, he didn’t get every ounce of fruit off the rind, he did it elegantly and without a lot of fussing. It was an a-ha moment for her. And it led to her trusting her husband’s way on lots of other things too.
I’ve been doing what I don’t do this summer by attending Bikram yoga classes. I took one Bikram class 10 years ago. It was so danged hot. The studio stank to high heaven. The teacher wore a microphone and yelled a lot. “I’ll never do THAT again,” I thought. And I didn’t. Until a friend of mine here in Providence invited me to go class with her. The Boiler Room Yoga studio is so lovely, light-filled, pleasant-smelling, and run with a smile. And the classes give me the opportunity to do something I hadn’t been doing much of: mainly, sweat and challenge myself physically (I looooooove me some gentle yoga on my bedroom floor).
What can you do this week that you simply ‘don’t do’? Do it with the intention of being open to a new experience, and then watch what comes up.
Remember, there are no mistakes. 🙂