I can’t believe my eyes. How can this be? It was a path of perfection yesterday…tidy, clear, level.
True, it stormed last night but man, not even a hint of my studio path remains.
I groan. More shoveling. Looks like I’m in for quite a work out.
That’s the upside.
Bundled up in layers of winter clothing- trudging, struggling, sinking through 3′ snowdrifts just to get to the shovel, frustration overtakes me as I recognize the downside.
Whoa! As soon as frustration meets ‘downside’ Lizard Brain jumps on the bandwagon chiming in with a resounding ‘Shoulding’ refrain.
“I should have shoveled a wider path.”
“I should have put up a snow fence.”
” I should be better at this by now.”
“I should have parked the snowblower where snowdrifts CAN’T bury it.”
“I should have known about the snowstorm.”
Does this refrain sound familiar?
Does all this ‘Shoulding’ make you feel just a tad paralyzed by perfection or the need to get it right?
This need, aka Perfection Paralysis, is high octane fuel for the Lizard Brain. Give her an inch of frustration and she’ll turn it into a mile of misery.
If you let her, she’ll lodge that ‘Shoulding’ refrain in your head for days, weeks, months, even years at a time. Worse yet, the bigger your need to be perfect, the louder and stronger her voice.
Built into to our physiology to protect us from danger, to ensure our survival, you can appreciate that the ancient Lizard Brain is committed to you 100%. The faintest glimpse of the enemy, the slightest sound of fear and she’s got your back, using any tool she can lay her hands on. She takes her job very, very seriously.
It’s just that these days she’s a little confused about the enemy.
It sure seemed like she heard alarm bells…isn’t that what all the muttering and moaning was about?
She’s also learned how to read my thoughts…
“Obviously if I had set things up perfectly to start with, it would be easier now. I’ve been shoveling snow for years. When am I going to Get-it-Right?”
No. I can’t blame Lizard Brain. She’s just trying to do her job.
As far as she knew, reading my reaction; irritation, frustration, unhappiness, anxiety over shoveling through 3 feet of snow-AGAIN…I was obviously in great peril.
“DANGER! MUST SAVE DAWN FROM?…ah, LARGE WILD ANIMAL CLEVERLY DISGUISED AS A SNOW SHOVEL! IMMINENT FREEZE-DRIED DEATH! LOOK AT ALL THIS SNOW. IT MAKES MY BLOOD RUN COLD. YES-THERE’S DANGER OUT HERE.
QUICK! AMP UP FRUSTRATION. BRING ON ANXIETY and EMOTIONAL DISTRESS! CREATE PANIC! I’LL MAKE HER FLEE INTO THE HOUSE FOR SAFETY!”
Ahhh, poor little Lizard Brain.
I pat her on the head, thank her for her vigilance and settle her down for a nap on a nearby sunlit snowbank.
Over time, I’ve learned to pay attention to the whisperings of my Lizard Brain, to let go of my need for perfection and develop new habits to bring Peace to the moment.
Here’s what works for me:
- Lean Back and Sigh~ Gain a little perspective by claiming some breathing space. In this case, I lean on the shovel. Practice Awareness, 10 seconds at a time. Take in the beauty of the pure white snow. Pay attention as my moist breath floats like a cloud into the morning sunlight.
- Hang out with the Nine Modern Day Muses~ I choose Spills and Bea Silly. Both are into the Joy of DOING, not just the Joy of Done. For those stalled by the ‘Paralysis of Perfectionism’, Spills uses the power of Close Enough. She rewards me for having patience with the process of practice. Bea Silly uses Kidstuff ™ as a way to infuse an attitude of Play into everyday life. Any way to lighten up and have a little fun here? (Sure! I go back into the house and slap on my favorite trapper style Canada hat.)
- Three Breaths ~ Take 3 even, regular breaths. Pay attention to your body as you breathe in and out. I know, you hear this all the time. Why? Because it works. Attention to your breath is the simplest, smallest step you can take to still inner stress.
So there you have it. Snow, glistening white in the morning sun; Lizard Brain content to dream away the moment in the warm sunshine and me…Trapper style Canada hat on head,shovel in hand, clearing a path for imperfection as I embrace my own process of practice and play.
1-2-3 shovel-breathe. 1-2-3-shovel-breathe. 1-2-3-shovel-breathe-lean back and sigh.
Want to Laugh More, Love More, Live more? Curious about how your Inner Genius, Creativity, Pursuit of Meaning and the Success Experience connect naturally? Find out at dawnkotzer.com. Dawn Kotzer, Certified Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coach, Modern Muse Group Facilitator, Artist and Martha Beck Certified Life Coach engages Life from her Boreal Forest home in Saskatchewan, Canada.