Wisdom Workout

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By Susan McNeal Velasquez

Do you think your life should be different than it is? Would your life be better, if only? Do you push yourself, berate or judge your lack of more, bigger, better results? If you answered yes to any of these statements, you are not alone.

We are often our worst enemy. We get trapped on a mental treadmill of our own making and ultimately create an agitated and irritated stance towards life.

Are you familiar with the term perfectionist? Place that label on yourself for a moment. Try it on. Imagine that you are explaining to a good friend that you are a perfectionist. Argue for the title. “I think my life would be much better if…fill in the blank. As soon as this happens then everything will be perfect!” Explore how many of these types of thoughts are rumbling around in your mind at this very moment.

As we continue this exploration, see if you can identify any feelings of pride about being a perfectionist tucked away securely in some corner of your mind. After all, what are the alternatives to perfectionism? Try on the obvious. “Who me? A perfectionist? Not at all. I’m into imperfection. Give me the damaged version of life. Any old results are fine with me.”

In order to create a little more freedom, it may be necessary to unlock our tight hold on the internal expectations we habitually carry around with us regarding what we demand from our lives.

Perfectionism is actually an attempt to inhabit an imaginary world in order to avoid experiencing the world in which we live.

More importantly, perfectionism is the habit of leaking our creative energy to a future that does not yet exist, a past that no longer exists or an imaginary world that will never exist.

Intuitive wisdom and guidance speaks only in the present tense. The point of choice, therefore, the point of power is always in the present.

Holding on to rigid perfectionism stops the flow of rich, vibrant, intuitive energy and reduces our choices down to a trickle.

Perfectionism is such an easy habit to cultivate and a difficult one to break, because it has close associations with a group of powerful friends. Superior, expert, accomplished, problem solver and exceptionally smart are just a few of perfectionism’s closest friends.

A walk on the beach to watch the sunset yields the comment: “Well, this doesn’t hold a candle to Fiji.”

A sales result highlighting healthy increases elicits: “If only the rest of the team did as well as John and Mike, then we would have made some real money.”

Your child cleans her room by hiding everything that’s out of place under the covers and the only comment on her creative problem solving is: “You know better than that. Now clean this room up right.”

I am not advocating dropping high standards of excellence in favor of mediocrity. I am proposing a loosening of the chokehold a rigid perfectionistic mindset puts on our ability to be creative and innovative.

Imagine looking at our world through brand new eyes, listening with a kind and curious ear, speaking with respect and looking for new opportunities to accept life on its own terms. This would allow us to touch and be touched by other perspectives.

When we expand our curiosity quotient, we recoup the humility and innocence necessary to become more inquisitive, open and receptive rather than disappointed and unsatisfied.

The reward for letting go of perfect and courting real is an opportunity to invite new vitality and newfound exuberance into our lives.

Susan is a local author of the emotional resource book “Beyond Intellect: Journey into the Wisdom of Your Intuitive Mind.”

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