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A Perfectionist’s Guide On Learning To Let Go Under Lockdown

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I am a recovering perfectionist. In other words, in the last one year, I have identified and observed how it has the capacity to block my natural flow, spontaneity, expression, work. And so, slowly but surely, with a help of a very dear friend (thanks Kavita), I have been finding ways to see it and then continue doing/sharing/learning, despite it. So slowly, perfection is losing its intensity as it has now come under my radar of awareness. And like all perfectionists know, it isn’t easy, it is work-in-progress, as it is important to remember not to get `perfect’ with the recovery process either.

There are many reasons why we show up as perfectionists – it could be fear of failure, fear of showing up, fear of losing control, fear of dependency, fear of personal image, and many other forms of fear. Perfectionism is just a symptom, and the source of it is somewhere deep, embedded in some form of fear/anxiety. For me, this lockdown has been the practical lab of recovery. If all the months leading up to it has been more theory, less practice, this is time to put it into action.

I share with you the ways in which you too can overcome your tendency to be a perfectionist and come out on the other side, step by step each time.

Also Read: How we did it: Coronavirus Survivors talk about their experience

1. Home cleanliness: Yes, hygiene is important, and basic cleanliness is something we all understand. But does the floor need to shine, for us to be able to see our reflection in it? Does every corner of the house need to be inspected so thoroughly? Do we even have guests or visitors who we assume might be judging us for how our house is kept? We aren’t eating off the floor, are we? (At least, that’s what my husband said, and a light bulb flashed.)

This is an extraordinary circumstance that has allowed loved ones to be together. How much time is being spent on work you don’t enjoy, instead of doing what you enjoy and having fun together? And how much of the work are you trying to do on your own to be the super parent? Can you allow the family to participate in work that doesn’t give you joy, and are you willing to let it be the way they do it? It is fun to see how they wish to clean or do the work you don’t like, and how they figure it out. Our way doesn’t have to be the only way. 

Yes, hygiene is important, and basic cleanliness is something we all understand. But does the floor need to shine, for us to be able to see our reflection in it?

2. Meals: Oh yes, we love our loved ones. We want to make sure that nutrition isn’t compromised, we might want to make sure it is tasty, we might want to make sure that the house doesn’t lack anything even during a lockdown. We might not want children to feel the scarcity, but are we spending all our time in the kitchen in order to achieve the perfect meals?

Also Read: How Instant Noodles Are A Saviour For Many Amidst This Lockdown

Where are we overdoing? What are we trying to prove? Where are we being practical? Where are we being perfect? It is okay to put food in the fridge, it is okay to create one-pot meals. It is okay to just have fruits for a meal, so that time can be utilized doing fun stuff. How much time can we save, if we cook simple-easy-quick meals on most days?

3. Completing your to-do list: Yes, we made a list this morning, or last night, for the day ahead. But as we move through the day, we might feel differently. We might not have the energy we had yesterday or we thought we did when we made that list, we might end up watching something that a friend sent, we might get a phone call from a family member. This is the right time to be kind to ourselves and let go of what isn’t possible. Play with your list too, let it evolve and allow it to be spontaneous as well. We are adults, we will figure out what is important, and if the rest didn’t happen, maybe it was not so important after all. We are juggling many balls, so drop a few, it’s okay. It’s okay to not have cleaned, mopped, cooked meals, laundry-ed, washed, gardened, yoga-ed, Zumba-ed, called friends, supported family, fed children, showered, all in one day.

We might not have the energy we had yesterday or we thought we did when we made that list, we might end up watching something that a friend sent, we might get a phone call from a family member.

4. Creative Expression: Oh, now with all the above three sorted, we are likely to have ample time. Why not have fun experimenting and playing with new things, new ways of doing the same things? The sketch doesn’t have to be perfect, my doodle doesn’t have to be perfect, the knitting, painting, yoga, Zumba, nothing. This is the time to see how to have fun with it all. How to extend it to family members and see what they come up with it, what they have to say, how can we play more? What if the outcome didn’t matter at all? What if the focus was only on the process and we had tremendous amount of fun with it? I am enrolling myself more into this state of mind, even more consciously from today, would you?

5. Finding out what Play means to your loved ones: How about playing a game where each of your family members share what is it they would love doing, where they just don’t bother how it looks like at the end because they madly love doing it for the sake of it? And then spend an entire day figuring out with the resources you have, to do just that? I am sure we are each capable of fulfilling it smartly with what is available. Our ingenuity in this is super high. I wish to ask this with my friends and family hereon and learn more about their way to play so that we can find ways to bond over it. There is no perfect time, so start right away. And for those who don’t have that concern, then jump into PLAY right away. Share what you love to play with, share what you have already been playing with, share what your relationship with play is. It would be wonderful to use the rest of our lockdown, to move from Perfection to Play. I intend to do more of it.

Also Read: India Witnesses A Steep Rise In Crime Against Women During Lockdown

Like my husband said, it’s just him and me…and we can keep a secret on how messy the house is between us. And during a Skype call with our physically distanced loved ones, just angle the camera to the tidier, elegant part of the house if you have to. Or show them the mess, so they are inspired to let go too and find time to play and rejoice in what they love.

The views expressed are the author’s own.

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