I've observed that most people live their lives trying hard to get everything right, which, if you think about it, isn't possible.
Why isn't that possible?
Well, who's the judge of what's right? You? Your partner? Your parents? Your siblings? Your friends? Your work colleagues? Your peers? Society? Communities? Cultures? Religions?
Put a situation in front of all of them and I'm betting there will be a differing of opionions on pretty much any topic (with the exception of maybe a few big issues in the world) you want to name. Of course there are certain rules of society that are right and best to follow but many areas are grey and whether it's right or wrong depends on each person's beliefs.
So who's right?? And does that make everyone else wrong?
When we set out to make ourselves right, that means we're making the person we're in conflict with wrong. How do you feel when someone accuses you of being wrong? Not nice huh.
It's often when we take on a new project, maybe a business, parenthood, new job, new friendships, studies, that we pull out all the stops trying to get it so right it's exhausting. Its like we think our world will fall apart if one little thing goes 'wrong'.
Do you live your life trying desperately not to be wrong or get things wrong? (Take a minute to really think about this). Perhaps you're constantly pushing yourself to be perfect and get everything you take on right? From a person who used to live like this, I can tell you, trying to always be right is an awfully pressured way to experience life. It wasn't until I was well into my 50's that I discovered how hard I was being on myself.
I didn't purposely set out to be right - I just aimed for perfection because I felt inadequate and didn't know any different. Everything I did, I tried so hard to get right. I was simply trying to feel better, happier and more in control of my life - in other words, safer. "So how did that work out for you Wendy?" "Not well - I became sicker, more agitated, anxious and a lot of the time, my life was a constant struggle".
Because I was a risk taker and didn't care a hoot about whether I succeeded or failed, my perfectionism was hard to spot. I was called a go-getter, high achiever etc but all the while I was on edge, feeling anxious and putting enormous pressure on myself to keep up with what I thought was required in order for me to feel safe. Go-getting isn't always about achievement - it can be about security, or lack and that's what mine was. I was constantly striving to build a wall of safety around myself when safety, like happiness, is a feeling, developed from within.
So how do you stop trying to get it all right when that's all you know and you're terrified of failure, big or small?
For me, it's been my Mindfulness practices that have made the difference. Practicing conscious breathing, bringing my thoughts back to my breath, right here, in the current moment - noticing when I'm making up stories (see previous post) and being aware enough to stop them. When I feel the anxiety returning, it's a message that I'm not fully focussed on each moment and my thinking will be off on a tangent usually conjuring up (unsafe) scenarios and 'what if' stories. So I stop, accept that I'm feeling stressed/tense/anxious (rather than trying to fight it) and bring my focus back to my slow, gentle, even breaths and I feel myself smiling again.
With practice, it becomes easier to just be and not have to be right or perfect and as calmness prevails, life becomes safer and happier and you achieve more anyway. Funny about that.
When you don't try so hard and just relax and enjoy each moment, Every Day Gets Better.