I’ve decided to get friendly with perfectionism and fear. It’s an ongoing (read-daily) battle we have, so I’ve decided to get to know them better.
We know creating and making something new brings up all kinds of emotions and fears. It brings up some nitty gritty stuff, we didn’t even know we possessed.
When I realized, during my creativity coaching training, that I am in fact, a raving perfectionist – now a recovering perfectionist – it blew me away. I truly had no idea.
I didn’t know that it was fear of being thought of as stupid, that has stopped me many times in my life.
Because that is what perfectionism is: a fear of what others think of us.
I thought perfectionists were high achievers with perfect appearances and perfect homes. Basically I thought perfectionism were about how things looked on the OUTSIDE and didn’t have anything to do with what’s going on INSIDE.
How wrong I was.
Do you know what is stopping you?
Unless you read Brené Brown (huge fan), or in some other way find out what’s under your hood, you probably don’t know why you react the way you do.
And that’s key, isn’t it?
How can you change something you don’t know what is?
For example, you may be really creative in your efforts to avoid new situations, because you feel resistance to anything new happening in your life.
I know someone like that.
But you may not even notice you’re feeling resistance. because you’ve become so familiar with the feeling.
And the list of fears we have are pretty endless.
I’ll give you a few of mine…
- I’m afraid of dying before I’m really old. I want my kids to have a mother until they’re old.
- Of something will happen to my kids.
- That I’ll never sit down and write that book I have in my head.
- I’m afraid Hillary won’t win the election.
- I’m afraid of flying.
- And I’m afraid of never making enough money from my creativity.
There’s a lot more, but I’ll stop there.
How to get friendly with perfectionism and fear – step 1
I’m a huge believer in knowing the back story to our feelings before we can change them. No, maybe change is the wrong word, but deal with them, understand and live with them.
It takes a little diggin’ but understanding what story is on repeat in your head regards to something specific, is important to have reality-checked once in a while.
(Because there’s a humongous chance that story is not actually true)
You can try with these questions:
WHY are you feeling resistant?
WHY are you afraid?
And WHAT exactly are you afraid of?
Answering these questions is the sort of ground work that will make you braver.
And make you clearer about what’s holding you back.
So go on! Get out a piece of paper and write down what you are afraid of and why. I’ll wait…………..
You see, dear creative one, you are a person of depth, imagination, and fantasy. And so am I. And so are we all.
Being creative is not just for the chosen few. But it is for the brave and persistent.
And perhaps most important; it’s a deal you make with yourself.
So look into your fear and resistance and write down or speak out load what you’re afraid of and why.
If fear cannot be articulated, it can’t be conquered – Stephen King
How to get friendly with perfectionism and fear – step 2
Create for fun!
Honestly, it’s is such a joyful way to live.
Make a deal with yourself to paint/write/learn/build/knit/study just for fun.
This is a proven, successful way to calm down the amygdala in our brain.
The amygdala gets activated when we are exited and afraid and then it shuts down access to front cortex – creative thinking and action.
Have you ever been in a situation where you walked away thinking “why didn’t I say this, I had a whole speech prepared, but I couldn’t remember anything in the situation”?
It’s also where the saying “I was so _______ I couldn’t think straight” comes from.
But when you create something just for fun, it’s no big deal.
It’s nothing to worry about, nothing to get worked up about. It doesn’t matter.
But it’s a sneaky trick.
It’s a trickity tricksters trick, creative one 🙂
Because this thinking makes you relax and therefore makes you act.
How it’s getting friendly with perfectionism and fear is saying to them “hey, what’s there to worry about? It’s only a bit of fun for 10 minutes or so”.
And by reassuring your perfectionism and fear that nothing dangerous is going to happen, they relax and you can create without them stopping you.
At the very least it gets you started, at best you may enjoy yourself. Winner!
Another good quote from Mr. King
Do it for joy and you can do it forever – Stephen King
It’s the same trick Anne Lamott calls “Shitty first draft”. To get you writing, just worry about writing a shitty first draft.
And it’s the same thing we in my KMC coaching calls “small and crappy”. Do something small and crappy for 5 minutes. It’ll get you started. Again and again.
So don’t worry about how it looks, or sounds or reads. Play for fun because………….well, just because.
I promise you, great things can happen……..
To fun moments