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December 4, 2023

Can we just give it our some?

Calling all perfectionists!

How’s your life approach working for ya?

Caught this nugget online recently…

“Today I’m going to give it my some.”

Hallelujah! What a concept! It can appear to be liberating to the untrained, non-perfectionist’s mind.

But those of us creatures who operate with the perfect mandate?

Uh, not as easily and enthusiastically embraced.

We are driven, motivated, and punished with our unique brand of self-punishment to pursue nothing short of perfection…, all the time… in all areas… without exception.

Sounds like a fun, fulfilling life, doesn’t it?

And how many of us are doing it RIGHT NOW?

Yeah.

Why?

Why do we insist on this oppressive, unrealistic, and counterproductive way of doing things?

If we break down this amusing online statement, maybe we can find some clues…

First…

“Today…”

Not yesterday. Not tomorrow. Not past. Not future.

Today.

Also, perhaps, within the realm of Now.

How do we really feel about this thing called “Today?”

Do we see it, let alone, experience it?

Or are we stuck in the past; are we consumed with the future?

Is “today” just wasted time and space for us?

Is “today” just something we are getting through, while enjoying another time, be it the past of the future?

Ruminating. Nostalgia. Anxiety. Worst-case scenario. Yearning.  Heartbreak. Control issues. Romanticizing. Dread. A lack of forgiveness and acceptance.

These are just some of the time-consuming options we exist in.

“Today” is often scary for us because we tie it to the unrealistic, undoable outcome of “perfect.” All-or-nothing “perfect.”

We assign ourselves the task of complete perfection, achieved, with no room for any imperfection, let alone, any walloping mistake to occur.

Today has high stakes attached to it.

Therefore, other time periods, like the past or the future can come across as less threatening and more enjoyable. Either the worst has already happened within our past, and we know what to expect, what that looks like, or we hold out of a future result that magically promises us what we’re desiring. Those are two obvious focuses.

Too often, however, we get things completely muddied and crisscrossed.

Now we fear the future, while somehow having hope that the past will be rewritten. All kinds of fun like that. Our scenarios, bargaining pleas, magical thinking outings, expectations, and fears are unique snowflakes, all being accessed for our participation.

We participate, therefore, instead of dealing with “Today.”

There’s no time like the present.

What can we do about this present moment, especially if we’d rather be anywhere else but here and now?

Just start.

With no pressure to have it be a perfect start.

Acknowledge it for what it is. Is that present situation painful? Sad? Frustrating? Lonely? Anxious?

Whatever the answer is, we can choose to honor it by acknowledging it.

No excuses or sugarcoating. No dressing it up.

Our present-day is this.

We are valuable in that reality, despite that reality. A negative association with “today” does not change who we inherently are.

And present-day, right now, doesn’t require we feel that life-affirming attitude.

Just boiler plate acknowledgment.

Our hearts don’t need to be in it.

Permission granted to just go through the motions if you need to.

Today.

“..I’m…”

No one else. I. Me.

Just when you thought “Today” was scary enough. There are other words directly implicating us that target us. Our pronouns.

No one else’s names or pronouns are involved. No one else is singled out.

Just us, by ourselves.

Yeah.

Most of us really don’t want to go to that party.

The personal work and responsibility, with self-awareness party?

Nope. No thanks.

The word, “I’m” has loneliness built into it. No distractions from other people, other vices, other remedies.

Just us, all alone, dealing with ourselves… and our perfectionist’s demands.

No wiggle room. No mistakes. No learning curve.

Do it right the first time! That is the only way we can continue to be who we are.

Imperfection negates us. Looking at the truth of ourselves negates us.

Too scary. Too hard. Too unpleasant.

So, we sabotage ourselves. We opt out of “me, myself, and I.” We opt out of imperfect humanity. We opt out of grace. We opt out of self-acceptance.

We choose the punishing drill sergeant of unrealistic perfection.

Great!

Me, myself, and I can be great company…

If we let it.

Here is where granting ourselves to be the scary, “unacceptable” words/states of being, like “selfish,” “self-absorbed,” and “self-centered” can come into play for us.

What if we focus on ourselves? No one else? Will the worst happen?

Chances are, no, it won’t.

But we play chicken with “what if” questions, throwing anxious doubt out there, and never answering the question to its conclusion. We are just terrorized by the limbo of the hanging question, and the downfall of humanity that will occur if we dare to concentrate on ourselves.

We need to get over ourselves, as we focus on ourselves.

Does that seem impossible?

It has to do with realistic assessment. We have personal power AND we don’t have ALL the power in the world to damn civilization.

The world will keep turning despite us.

We need to stop believing the all-or-nothing press about ourselves.

We are, and we aren’t, that important.

Bigger picture, as we deal will the microcosm of our individual selves.

“…going…”

Ah, yes, movement. Activity/direction. Destination.

We don’t stay put.

We human creatures like to think that we are going somewhere.

Some people can even say it’s a human need for us to move.

Indeed, our bodies need to move, otherwise muscles and abilities atrophy.

“Use it or lose it,” as the old saying goes.

Unfortunately, for those of us who are geared towards creating perfection, we can go full speed ahead, driving ourselves into a wall, in the name of “going somewhere.”

We push ourselves past the breaking point. We decide that nothing short of an unrealistic standard of whatever “moving” means to us will do.

All or nothing. Here we go again.

And, if we’re not careful, it’ll be a case of going, going, gone.

And not in a good way.

Burnout.

Progress still moves.

How many of us feel stuck? Mired?

How many of us feel like we are going nowhere in life?

Are we judging that estimation by an unattainable finish line, or by the steadier movement of not-so-easy-to-see, subtle progress?

Progress still moves.

Do we see that? Do we acknowledge our progress?

Or, again, is it only all or nothing?

What is stopping us from stopping and assessing our movement in life, in a realistic way?

We are not in the same place we were, even a year ago. Something has shifted.

We need to give ourselves credit for that shift.

And speaking of giving…

“…to give it…”

Effort.

Here we go. Right to the heart of the matter. The attempts we make in life. What are they?

How strong are they? How punishing? How depleting? How energizing?

Our efforts are registering in some way.

We decide what/who gets our attention and energy.

We decide to give.

Never underestimate our power.

Giving our effort requires energy, and, in some cases, our evaluation and reassessment.

If we continue to give, or, rather, if we continue to over give to something or to someone that is only depleting us, that can be a self-destructive power working against us.

Do we want that?

What is the best use of our power? We all have power.

Again, it’s energy. What is the best use of our energy?

What will we do about directing- or redirecting- that energy?

What will we give- or stop giving?
There can be profound answers and blessings when we harness our power in a better way that serves us.

“…my…”

Ownership.

We’re back to me, myself, and I again.

What are we doing?

What decision, action, effort are we making?

We aren’t all-powerful. But we have some ability, some mastery, some value to the things we are doing.

Ownership is our opportunity to own our possibility.

We need to give ourselves credit for what we are doing.

We don’t do that enough.

There is a common technique in some therapy processes. It focuses on the action of deliberately acknowledging three things you and I have done right with the day, at day’s end.

We deliberately acknowledge those things daily.

So many of us are hyper focused only on our flaws. We do not see anything good, productive, creative, or worthwhile in our daily lives. We berate and punish ourselves with our impossible to-do list of only the things that DIDN’T get done.

That becomes the judge, jury, and executioner that decides we are failures.

That’s quite oppressive, now, isn’t it?

There needs to be a reality check about life, and the human participants in this life.

No one is perfect. No one achieves absolutely everything, done to perfection, constantly.

There is always something that gets missed, that gets left undone.

There are flaws.

Sometimes, there are whoppers of mistakes.

Hurdles pop up that throw everything off.

Life is managed… and sometimes, it is barely managed.

We are not the sole individuals experiencing that.

We need to start owning that reality more in our daily lives.

And lastly…

“…some.”

Amount. Measurement.

Here is where the concept of all or nothing is challenged directly.

Who or what mandated that all was the only acceptable measurement we needed to execute, anyway?

What is our capacity?

How do we feel if/when that capacity is only “some?”

Many of us flog ourselves for that reality.

Perfect is not an amount; enough is.

Amount can be objective or subjective. We can decide its influence on us.

Measurements like money, weight, and appearance standards can be “facts,” or they can be the internalized pressure and taskmasters we apply to ourselves, punishing ourselves with severe and painful consequences, for failing to meet those standards.

The word and the concept of “enough” is more complex. It can be personal and individual. And it can be a governing force, guiding how we approach our lives.

We can opt to decide what is enough for how we show up in the world. We can decide what constitutes our standards. We can decide to allow those standards to be less punishing. We can choose to have more realistic, healthier, and kind standards for ourselves.

What does that look like?

Our enough is enough.

We are valid.

Many of us have only defined ourselves, our efforts, our successes, and our failures by someone else’s dictates.

We give more credence to another’s opinion.

But why is their opinion more valid than ours?

By “giving it my some,” we can honor, apply, live in, and take responsibility for who we are.

It’s not about being perfect; it’s about being who we are.

And the sum of that is found in “some.”

Copyright © 2023 by Sheryle Cruse

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