Monday, April 11, 2011

SKILL of the ...

Week, month, or however long it takes me to get to another skill! Ha! I crack myself up. OK, so I am really trying to get  back into the swing of things. 

Start with Structure...Rely on Routine.

I understand how critical that is. So, onward and upward. 

The skill:

How many perfectionists are there out there? 

I suspect many, many, many of you have this trait. It sort of walks hand-in-hand with mental illness in a lot of ways. In a world of so many uncertainties and triggers, in a mind that is so out of control we grasp at any bit of control we imagine we have. However, as there are many of us out there, this Lane is still quite empty because of one fundamental one is perfect.

The principle in DBT of Progress vs. Perfection goes a little something like this:

The attainment of perfection is a frustrating and futile pursuit. More reasonable, realistic, and gratifying is to strive for growth and improvement.  

We will get much further with small steps, smaller goals set along the way to the larger goal. Now understand this, your final goal will not be perfect either. There is no way that you will be able to take your target behavior and expect that you will never engage or never come close to engaging again. That is not realistic. You may never live a life that is completely free of suicidal thoughts. You may deal with them for the rest of your life, you will simply learn how to cope with them in an effective way which will by default reduce them to a more manageable level. 

I am a visual learner, and when I pulled up "perfectionism" in the google search for images these are some of the ones that stood out to me, to really get the sense of this principle. Knowledge is power. Empower yourself with knowledge, get this idea in your head and however you need to do it, really let it sink in so that it influences your thinking, it means your life. 

Ask yourself: How much does perfectionism really affect my life? Do I consistently waste precious time and energy on pursuits that are doomed from the beginning because they are merely a manifestation of my need for perfection. 

Striving after this will only add more and more:

Just think for a moment of how quieter your mind would be, how slower things can be, and how more focused you have the potential to be, if you focus on the needs vs. preferences and then weed out the unnecessary preferences. Do they really matter? In the large scheme of things, is it truly OK if you leave the dishes for the morning? Or can you wait to answer your phone? Can you allow yourself a walk without it's interruption? No doubt locating where this demon resides is quite difficult because it has lived there since your teeny tiniest self was created.

These are learned behaviors. Therefore they will have to be unlearned

Or what? However, here is a little secret... your perfection actually is proof of the exact opposite, the dreaded presence imperfection that you are running from. 

Imperfection does not equally chaos, or at least it doesn't have to. Perfectionism is ineffective, therefore it is an imperfect emotion, feeling, drive, and action. It's very existence shatters any possibility of you behaving perfectly, or working perfectly, or cleaning perfectly. 

What to do about that? Well, first of all when you locate your perfectionist demon give him/her notice and evict 'em. 

And ponder this.....

Finally, radically accept that you are not perfect and remember we are all under construction at various stages. Trust yourself to learn and grow. Learn to be flexible. 


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