Archive for Perfectionism

Letting Go, Part Deux

By Carolyn Cook

I have so much to learn, still.

I’m fifty years old, and I’m still learning that I have control issues.  I am even beginning to see my old perfectionism as a form of control:  if I can do everything perfectly, then I can control how other people perceive me.

I got into trouble early in my marriage by trying to be the perfect wife.  It took several years for me to see that I was only hurting myself by trying to fit an imaginary mold.  What’s more, I saw that I had been trying to control my husband’s perception of me, instead of trusting that he loved my imperfect self.

Lately I’ve noticed that I can slip into “perfect daughter” and “perfect mother” roles with my mother and daughter.  I’m not fooling anyone with my textbook caregiving and parenting; my mother and daughter just want to be with me.  They can see right through my efforts to make everything perfect.

I’m making a conscious effort to step back and let events take their course without my control, even (gasp!) in my own home.  I’m learning a lot from the experience.  Something tells me I will always have more to learn.

This post first appeared on True Voices’ RiskADay blog, a project which has now concluded.

 is a sometimes peaceful, sometimes frazzled individual who works to raise a daughter, build a marriage, and explore the human condition through theatre, art, music, history, literature, and relationship. You can now read about her life and insights at her own blog here.

Saying “I Can’t”

By guest blogger, Carolyn Cook.

It always seems like a risk to admit that I can’t do something. Fortunately, I’m learning to take that risk more often.

I recently admitted to myself that I can’t do everything I’m trying to do for my mom. It was tempting to beat myself up for being imperfect, but I knew better. The important thing was to reach out and ask for help.

Help was always there, waiting for my call. My sister and I were able to talk openly with friends and other family members about how they can help, and we got in touch with professionals who love to work with older adults. Adding these resources has the potential to make my life less stressful and my mom’s life more joyful.

And it all happened because I realized it was time to say “I can’t.” I can’t do everything myself.

The miracle, and the lesson, is that nobody expected me to.

Carolyn Cook is a sometimes peaceful, sometimes frazzled individual who works to raise a daughter, build a marriage, and explore the human condition through theatre, art, music, history, literature, and relationship.

This post first appeared on RiskADay.com.

As Is

By guest blogger, Andrea Lea

Last night I had a gentle aha moment… usually they slam into me and I am juiced and invigorated by the energy of them, but this was different. It kind of slid in like mud under a closed door. I was feeling resistant to it and defeated by it – it felt like an impossibility for me. It was too obvious. I should have mastered this already. One of those teachings that we’ve all heard so many times that we are numb to its power (at least I was).

No matter how hard you push, you will not move forward until you accept yourself HERE in the moment of NOW.

Oh no. Wait, wait, wait… Really?

I have no shortage of ideas or enthusiasm – ever. I am gloriously tapped in to Grace and am able to channel wisdom and universal love and non-judgment for everybody else. I will risk saying that I am an inspiration to many around me, and it is no risk saying that I am completely sincere in all my efforts. But I have placed such conditions on my love for myself that I can never ever feel safe there.

I am so harsh – mean, even. I am racked with a guilt that is a near-tangible, very conscious part of my every day life. Guilt is not God-energy. Guilt overrides joy and blocks flow. I put myself down and belittle my own efforts before they’ve been made. I shoot down my ideas and place them under the category of “Excellent and Profitable Idea for Someone More Capable and Valid than YOU.” I have frozen myself – paralyzed my progress – with the kind of pressure you see rich white parents in the movies put on their kids to move in a certain direction or else.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not a miserable person. I’m just stuck. This week a dear friend who is stuck in a different way reached out to me and I told him to try to picture himself where he wanted to be. We talked about some of those details and I said to him, “For me, this requires no imagination. That is who you already are. That is how I see you.” It was very powerful for him to hear that. My love for this friend is unconditional. When he achieves what he is striving for in life, I will not love him any more or less than I do right now. My love for him is as constant as time. I will be happy for him. But he is right now the person I love.

I have a beautiful life, one for which I am limitlessly grateful. I have the most amazing and resilient family. My daughter is such a gracious teacher for me, and so beautiful look at and soft to hold. My dad is a present and loving parent and grandparent who moves quietly beyond the usual parameters of those titles with joy and non-judgment. My boyfriend is a true love; supportive and creative in thought and action, shares my core beliefs, and remains completely calm when I am stormy (a miracle in itself, I tell you), and is my most fun playmate ever. My home is warm and open and comfortable, full of kids and dogs and friends and family. My cupboard is full and there’s always something delicious on the stove.

I am surrounded with so much love. But right now, I need to learn to love myself in this moment. There are so many things I want to do… but I cannot withhold love and acceptance until they are all done… Until I’m perfect!

Today I am going to risk calling in some help. I am going to borrow the love and the vision my dear ones hold for me, and start seeing myself and loving myself the way they love me. They know my imperfections, and they place no conditions. I am going to do my best to do unto myself the way I do unto others: that means no judging, only encouraging and loving. Sometimes moving forward means standing still and accepting not only what the moment of now brings, but also accepting yourself, warts and all, in that moment, right where you are on your path.

Holler if you hear me…

Andrea Lea is a writer who is cracking the code of the symbolic and recording the spiritually hilarious. Her adventures so far have included several years and a cooking show in post-Apartheid South Africa, a stint in rural south Georgia, a brief but sparkling singing career which she intends to revive, and a glorious indigo daughter named Dom. When she’s not painting, taking photos, writing, singing, or doing laundry, Andrea can be found in her kitchen, channeling her grandmother through new recipes, and feeding folks.

This post was originally posted RiskADay.com.