|December 2013 Issue #38
Today's Topic: Practice "presence" not "perfection" this Christmas
Since writing about Recognizing your Inner Perfectionist in the last issue, I find I have been “living” the topic of perfectionism! I promised you more on what perfectionism is and isn't -- however I'm going to save that for a future issue. It’s too close to Christmas for theory! Instead, I want to briefly share how this topic has been working on and in me, as I prep for Christmas -- and share my game-plan for a joyous holiday.
With best wishes for a Christmas season of heart-warming moments ,
Something to think about
Christmas is not as much about opening our presents as opening our hearts.
-- Janice Maeditere
‘Tis the season of to-do lists and seasonal melt-downs. I know, because I had one of those melt-downs with my husband just last week –- DESPITE all my good intentions of staying calm, cool and unstressed prior to Christmas.
However it was a good thing. Because it woke me up to the fact that I had gotten into “doing” mode, and fallen out of being present to myself and others – which is my REAL goal for the holiday season.
When I’m in “doing” mode, my husband’s overtures of affection show up as an irritation and an unwanted distraction from the REALLY important things I need to accomplish. When I’m in “doing” mode, I can easily turn him into a “thing” to be used or managed or just gotten out of the way -- as opposed to a human being to be related to. And he feels it!! I’m sure my children sometimes felt this way as well, as their Mom stressed over creating the “perfect” Christmas in years past.
A new focus
So this year I am having an "imperfect" Christmas, and opting to put my focus on “presence” instead. I've learned that in order to experience joy, I need to be present-in-the-moment. NOW is the only place that joy is felt. If I’m preoccupied, stressed, in-a-dither, I lose touch with my feelings and the place in me where I experience joy. And I miss out on the very experience I desire most.
So this Christmas I am planning for imperfection. I’m anticipating that things may go wrong or not as I expected: I may deal with an upset guest or family member. Some dish won’t turn out as expected. At least one gift choice will probably bomb. And my house won’t be perfect: The walls will still be over-due for a new paint job and those stains in the carpet (you know, the ones that won’t come out) will still be there.
However it’s all good because now it’s all part of the imperfect plan. I can let go of the struggle!
Perfectionism is too darn painful
In her book about recovery from eating disorders, Jenni Schaefer wrote, “I was able to change my behavior only when the pain of perfectionism became greater than the pain of making an error.” Perfection is simply too stressful to pursue. So I’m giving it up this Christmas -- or at least, that’s what I’m going for!
Instead I plan to practice “presence”. I will practice getting things done while remaining present to myself and others. I may not be as efficient (although, who knows?). However I’m certain that I’ll be happier in the process – and open to the experiences of love and joy that this season affords.
I plan to practice presence by:
- remembering to laugh (If I don’t laugh at my husband’s corny jokes, it’s a sure sign that I’m taking everything WAY too seriously!)
- remembering to breathe (A few conscious breaths returns me to myself and the present moment.)
- remembering to focus on “being” with others, in the midst of my “doing” (That means actually LISTENING when they talk to me, rather than pretending to listen while I plan the next to-do.)
If doing-it-right or doing-it-perfectly is a trap for you too, I invite you to join me in practicing presence-not-perfection this holiday season. I know your family and friends will love it. However what’s more important: You’ll give yourself the gift of the present moment – the only place where joy is found.
Thanks to all my readers in 2013! And a special thanks to those who've taken the time to comment or let me know how an article has landed for you. Your comments inspire me to keep writing and add to my learning. May the Christmas season bring new hope and inspiration to us all!
I would love to support you around your goals, hopes and wishes for 2014. So if you're feeling discouraged or stuck -- or you know that IT'S TIME to take action -- I invite you to do a complimentary intro session with me, to explore how I can help you achieve your hopes and desires. Click here to book it.
Shirley Vollett BSW PCC is a Life and Relationship Coach, with over 20 years of combined experience in counselling and coaching. She delights in helping pro-active individuals make positive changes in their lives, their work/business and their relationships. Her clients appreciate her ability to listen deeply, her compassionate wisdom and her support in staying focused. Contact Shirley for a complimentary intro phone session. If you are experiencing a challenge or are eager to make some changes, explore how coaching works and how she can help. Click on a link below or visit her website at http://shirleyvollett.com