A (huge!) shift in perspective

I know one of the reasons why I don’t get around to doing some of the things I want to do is that as long as they remain undone, they retain the potential of being perfect.

You know, that half-knitted sweater still has the potential to fit me like a glove, but if I finish it I risk having to face the fact that I screwed something up and no, it doesn’t fit all that well after all.  Or those posts that are so great in my mind, they never get written because I won’t be able to find the right words, and the finished product will demonstrate that my writing isn’t good enough to convey what I really mean.  Or that project – my Thing! – on which no progress is made because there’s no way I can produce something that lives up to how awesome I’d like it to be.  Or, really, whatever else I have sitting around half-done, or not done at all.

Ah, stuckness!

And since this is only one of my many stucknesses, attending Havi and Selma‘s Destuckification Retreat a few weeks ago made perfect sense to me.  And what a treat that was!  I’ll probably say more about it in coming posts*, but today I want to share a cool insight I’ve had yesterday.
*though I’ve said things like that in the past, and the promised posts still sit unwritten… we’ll see what happens this time!

At the retreat, we did a lot of Shiva Nata, but things have been a bit weird/hectic/whatever these last few weeks, so I didn’t do much of it since I came back – until three days ago.  And yesterday morning, I was hit by one of those “moments of bing!” that Havi talks about (and that I have kind of whined about not getting much of in the past…)

A Shivanautical epiphany!  Yay!

I was in bed, my gentleman friend had just gotten up and I was all ready to go back to sleep when it hit me – and it hit me so hard that I had to get up too, grab my journal, and do some writing.  Here’s, in essence, what came out:

That potential of perfection that keeps me from doing the things I want to do in order for them to stand a chance of not turning bad, well, guess what?  It doesn’t exist.  At least not in the form I thought it did.  The form in which that imagined potential of perfection exists isn’t perfect.  I mean, the kind of perfection that lives in that idea is not desirable to me, it is not what I want.

That potential perfection, even if it was actualised, is deeply flawed.  It is flawed, and for a very simple reason: there is no “me” in that (potentially or actually) perfect thing – it is not in any way infused with my essence, my me-ness.  That perfect thing is cold and dry.  And the stuff I want to put out into the world can have many qualities, but cold and dry are certainly not among them.

That hypothetical perfect blog post with all the right words, perfect sentences and everything may be clear and brilliant, but it is cold and mechanical.  My personality doesn’t come across in any way through such a so-called perfect post.  That half-knitted sweater that still holds the possibility of fitting me awesomely well – well, it doesn’t keep me warm right now.  And my Thing, no matter how imperfect it’d be, would help more people if it was out there than it does living in that illusory perfect state in my head.

The monsters counteract

Now, my monsters could say that I simply have to create things that are “perfectly me” – and they did, of course!  (What kind of monsters would they be of they had missed such an opportunity?)  Thankfully, my epiphany was big enough that it came with an answer to that argument.
Warning: that answer is kind of hard to articulate clearly, and I have a feeling that it may make sense only to myself and my monsters (that’s what counts, right?), but there you go anyways:

Nothing can be “perfectly me” as long as it only lives within me.  Those things I don’t create won’t ever be perfectly me because there is no me-ness in them: they can’t be infused with my essence so long as they remain within me.  As long as they’re only within me, I am not within them; they have to come out of me in order to take with them – and contain within them – some of what I am.

Also, nothing will ever be “perfectly me”, not even any one of those things that I will create – nothing will, except for the sum of an infinity of things that I will put out into the world, every one of them containing a small kernel of my truth.  Therefore, I must not look at any one thing in isolation but rather consider the whole of what I create – and the bigger that sum will be, the better it will reflect who I am.

I guess I’d better get started now, then!

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24 Responses to A (huge!) shift in perspective

  1. Elizabeth says:

    Josiane, this is huge! This is like a giant epiphany! And such a brilliant one! I am almost teary reading this. I can’t wait to see more of your you-ness making its way into the world.

    Wow. Really. Now that was an epiphany.

  2. Yes yes yes.

    ‘There is no “me” in that (potentially or actually) perfect thing – it is not in any way infused with my essence, my me-ness. That perfect thing is cold and dry.’

    Totally. In the first few weeks of this my second blog, I did a lot of meta-blogging about resistance, and my Internal Editor, and I took it as a challenge to just click Publish.

    Seems that the Internal Editor takes much more of a back seat now.

    You’re so right that the idea of perfection is *just resistance* – it directly stops us creating the thing in the world.

    Also, the idea that the ‘perfect’ thing will come out fully formed, like Venus.

    Hyuh, ok.

    Seems that we have a fundamental misunderstanding about the process of creation.

    And yes, it’s only by being out there that it can have you in it.

    Love it.

    Thank you!

    </ramble>

  3. Josiane says:

    Oh, guys, I’m so glad you could get what I was trying to say! That post wasn’t easy to write, the whole thing was all at once so clear and confused in my mind, I really wasn’t sure how it’d come across. {sigh of relief}

    @Elizabeth: Oh yes, the epiphany was just as big as the stuck was – huge! Now, I’m getting teary too… it’s really good to be able to share that with you.

    @Andrew: Nice to see you here! And you brought up the R word! :) Resistance is totally the bigger pattern here, and I’m seeing so much of it in me these days… Well, it’s been there for a long time, but I’m glad I’m now at least seeing it – and even happier that I could loosen that big old tangled knot of resistance with that big insight. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, you’re welcome to come and “ramble” all you want over here!

  4. toacircus says:

    “As long as they’re only within me, I am not within them; they have to come out of me in order to take with them – and contain within them – some of what I am.”

    And with that epiphany you have done the heavy lifting and set a chain of epiphanies off in my own brain far, far away…

    Starting to get a grasp on unraveling some stuck. Thanks Josiane!!!

  5. Maartje says:

    Josiane, what a gorgeous epiphany. I love the way they just strike like lightning. :) Perfection is such a heavy burden for any single idea to bear. And the idea that only actualised things carry me-ness – mindboggling yet it feels so true!

    Funny, I have the opposite pattern – at work I procrastinate on those things that I secretly fear are useless or not worth doing. As long as they’re on my to do list, I don’t have to face the fact that I’m going to have to waste time on them. But if I plan them out and DO them, I fear the sheer uselessness will kill me.

  6. Walter says:

    Perfection is only an illusion. There is no such thing. Every creation we make carries with it our uniqueness, and by following such, we make an impression to others. :-)

  7. THIS IS SOME DEEP STUFF! “As long as they’re only within me, I am not within them; they have to come out of me in order to take with them – and contain within them – some of what I am.”

    I love this, Josiane! Please keep writing! You’re just getting started on us!

  8. Josiane says:

    @Megan: Knowing that my post set off a chain of epiphanies in your brain totally makes my day! Yay! *happy dance*

    @Maartje: Yes, the idea that I had to actualise things for them to carry me-ness felt kind of counterintuitive at first, but then I realised that them being in me and me being in them were two very different things… As for the opposite pattern, I have it too! The things I deem not worth doing can stay for a very long time on my to-do list, but even having them there is a drag on my energy, so they kill me either way! I really have no patience for that kind of stuff…

    @Walter: Well, sometimes the monsters are really preoccupied by the idea of making the *right* impression to others… Then we need to find safety, comfort and reassurance, so that we can remember that simply making an impression is ok, and things will be fine. :)

  9. Josiane says:

    @Kelly: Dear Kelly! Thank you so much, sweetheart! You asking me to keep writing means a lot! {hug}

  10. celine says:

    fork perfection! it’s too much of a hassle to reach for it anyway. cake is far easier to grab and tastier too. you go, Josiane!

  11. Fabeku says:

    There’s a lot of big smart deep stuff here. And I can’t even tell you how much of it I can relate to. I was nodding through almost all of it. I’m glad you had this epiphany. And I’m glad you shared it too. I got some good mojo from it myself. Thanks.

  12. Josiane says:

    @Céline: Mmmm, cake… It’s funny how I am *so* not a perfectionnist when I cook and bake (except when I test recipes for your cookbook, I promise!) – and everything still comes out tasty. That’d be something interesting to ponder. Thanks for leading my mind that way! (not that it’s ever very far from thinking about cake!)

    @Fabeku: I’m so glad you got something out of this, and that my sharing it generated some good mojo for you! That totally makes my day! Thank you.

  13. Really enjoyed your post. I totally related to it. Wanting to be perfect and yet perfect not me.

    Yay Shivanautical epiphany!!

  14. Josiane says:

    @Jane: Thank you for letting me know that you enjoyed my post and related to it, and for yay-ing with me… I really appreciate it! :)

  15. wonderful, insightful, hugely relevant epiphany! – and you know, the world does need more josiane in it – or the bits of josiane that you are ready to share with the world…

  16. Elizabeth B says:

    Oh, Josianne, thank you so much for sharing this. This very problem plagues me, and I’m getting bored listening to it make the same arguments over and over again. Reading your epiphany gave me a new lens to look at it through. I feel a sense of truth in your post, possibly truth that I’m still resisting. I expect I’ll be reading and rereading until it sinks in.

  17. Josiane says:

    @Jacquelyn: Thank you for stating that the world needs more me and what I have to share. Even though some part of me knows this, it’s always good to be reminded of it, and hearing it from other people reinforces the idea (while also providing me with the very best thing to feed my monsters!).

    @Elizabeth the Bee! Oh sweetheart, I’m sorry you are dealing with this too. Big big hugs to you. I’m so happy you could find here a new lens to look at it through; I hope it will be useful to you. I totally understand the resistance, I’m plagued by it on so many levels… May I suggest something? *please ignore if it doesn’t help* Since you feel a sense of truth in my post, you could try using it as a starting point for a free write; you may see your own truth emerge, and maybe you’d find there what you need to help dissolve the resistance. {hug}

  18. I was just catching up on @Havi’s blog today and saw the item!

    WOW. man… that is some great great stuff you came across. I am putting this in my journal today. It rings very true for me as well. Thank you so much for sharing and putting it into such beautiful words!

    “Nothing can be “perfectly me” as long as it only lives within me. Those things I don’t create won’t ever be perfectly me because there is no me-ness in them: they can’t be infused with my essence so long as they remain within me. As long as they’re only within me, I am not within them; they have to come out of me in order to take with them – and contain within them – some of what I am.

    Also, nothing will ever be “perfectly me”, not even any one of those things that I will create – nothing will, except for the sum of an infinity of things that I will put out into the world, every one of them containing a small kernel of my truth. Therefore, I must not look at any one thing in isolation but rather consider the whole of what I create – and the bigger that sum will be, the better it will reflect who I am.

  19. Josiane says:

    @Carrie: Thank you for following the link on Havi’s blog! I’m glad you found here something that rang true for you too. I really appreciate your kind words, especially the part about putting it into such beautiful words – because finding the right words to convey what was so clear in my mind, but in some sort of a wordless way, wasn’t all that easy! :)

  20. I came here by way of Michelle Russell’s post “The Perils of Procrastifectionism.” As I commented to her, I’ve always had a problem with “Procrastifectionism”. But I had to lower my standards during college or risk never graduating. It was then I adopted the mantra “Aim for success, not perfection.”

    In one of her many helpful books on self-realization, Barbara Sher takes a whole chapter to explain why we should occasionally set out to do a lousy job. It’s an amazingly liberating concept!

    Good luck!

  21. Josiane says:

    @Square Peg Guy: Thank you for sharing your experience with procrastifectionism (Michelle’s word is just perfect, isn’t it?)! My first reaction to your mantra was “yeah, that’s good!”, but then I realised that y idea of success has for a very long time included a certain dose of perfection (and it still does to a certain extent, clearly), so I thought “uh, no, doesn’t quite work for me”… which in turn led me to realise that what was needed for it to work was for me to redefine my notion of success. So thank you for taking my brain down that path, that was a useful realisation!
    As for setting out to do a lousy job: that’s something I have to work on too, as it doesn’t come easily to me, but I can see how helpful it would be. I’ll give it a try! I’ll also try to find and read that book – having Barbara Sher explain to me why I should do it would most certainly help too!

  22. Hi Josiane:

    Barbara Sher wrote several books, and I’m not sure which one I saw this chapter in. It could be “It’s Only Too Late If You Don’t Start Now…” except that my notes are telling me that it’s on my “To Read” list, which implies I haven’t read it yet! Or it might be “I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was: How to Discover What You.” (also on the “To Read” list). Or I suppose “Wishcraft,” which I know I read. I know it’s not in “Refuse to Choose” ’cause I just finished reading that.

    Anyway, good luck!

  23. awesome post honey, thank you, massively inspired me… i have this exact problem with paintings… i will try again :) xxx

  24. Josiane says:

    @Square Peg Guy: Thank you for the clues! Even if I don’t find the chapter you were talking about earlier in the first book I’ll try, it won’t be a problem: I bet they’re all worth a read anyways. :)

    @Sarah Ariel: I’m so glad my post inspired you! Yay for trying again, and happy painting!

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