How to be perfect
When I sat down to write this blog post for Artipeeps, I had a hard time coming up with something to write about. My mind started churning on how important it was to write amazing, informative, valuable posts when you’re introducing yourself to someone else’s audience. I wanted to give the perfect introduction that would sum up who I am and what I do. I wanted to help as many people as possible with this one post.
As I sat there, my shoulders started to feel tight and my heart rate sped up. In my mind, ideas turned to thoughts about how I had nothing to say. I felt anxiety jump and my self worth plummet.
As an artist (and a human being), perfectionism is something you have to learn to disarm again and again if you want to be happy. Read on if you want to know how I keep perfectionism out of my and my art’s way.
When it first creeps into your mind, perfectionism seems to make sense. It seems to be rational. You find yourself thinking things like:
This album has to be amazing. It has to be better than the last one we made
If this book isn’t as good as (insert the title of the book you love here) then why bother putting it out.
If this isn’t flawless then people will think I suck…that I’m mediocre as an artist
It makes sense because we want our art to be good. Perfectionism seems like a force that keeps us on track, reminding us that this must be our best work.
But here’s the thing…
IT’S A TRICK!!!!
Perfectionism is born when you over-identify your worth as a person with the art you make. Your mind starts perceiving the impending judgment and appraisal that your art receives when it’s released for judgements and appraisals of who you are.
When you believe these thoughts, the whole process of creativity grinds to a halt. It feels impossible to start and impossible to finish. Nothing seems right. It’s feels terrible. You start avoiding making your art.
So what can you do to put perfectionism in it’s place?
Now that you know to be on the lookout for perfectionistic thinking, you can use mindful awareness to allow the thoughts to rise, hang out in your mind and then pass without believing them.
When you feel those “this must be my best work ever” feelings and thoughts start churning, mentally label them as simply “perfectionism” and then just watch. When you momentarily become a dispassionate observer of these feelings, they lose their bite and then they quickly fade from your mind.
The moment when you’re watching your own perfectionistic thoughts come and go in your mind, try to generate some compassion for yourself.
Just think…you’re an artist, trying to make the world a more beautiful place, and your brain is trying to sabotage you every step of the way. What you’re doing is brave and authentic. It is an act of true vulnerability. So when your thoughts start telling you why you suck and you have to be perfect, give yourself some well deserved compassion.
The fight against perfectionism is a daily battle. These thoughts will come up over and over again. Just bring mindful awareness to them, let them pass, extend some compassion to yourself and get to work.