Self-Sabotage in the Pursuit of Perfection
Perfection is the enemy of progress when it comes to learning something new. If you are trying to get things perfect, you end up focusing on all the things that aren’t working. Some people are so concerned that they have to get it perfect that they don’t try doing anything because it will be a failure. This kind of thinking sabotages your process
Don’t try to become perfect or even what you consider proficient at an exercise before going on to the next. For best results, do a mixture of the practices even if you are bad at them in the beginning.
Think about someone who decides to get in shape by getting physical exercise. They start with walking in the neighborhood. They also cut out some unhealthy snacks. Cutting out unhealthy foods doesn’t involve exercise directly, but it helps. When some weight comes off, they start to jog a little bit while on their walks. Instead of just cutting out junk food, they make some efforts to shop and cook healthier. Shopping and cooking differently aren’t directly part of “exercise” but they are part of a greater lifestyle change that helps the body be fit. What you put in the grocery cart isn’t directly related to the workout you do at the gym, but the effect is. The same kind of mixture of activities and exercises helps facilitate a healthier mental and emotional state. You don’t want to be running a half marathon before changing what you drink and eat. You do them together. Making small changes in multiple areas helps facilitate change in the whole self. “Mixing it up” with the Self Mastery coursework accomplishes a better overall understanding of your practice.
Some Things Can’t Be Perfected Anyways
Some of these exercises can’t be perfected based on what you have learned up to this point. If you are doing the Basic Series you are going to find that you have judgmental thoughts about yourself, and other people. 99 out of 100 people won’t get rid of their judgmental thoughts using the exercises in the Basic Series. I address the dismantling of the Judge and Victim characters in the Advanced Series.
In the Free Trial Sessions, I invite you to be mindful of your Attention. You’ll probably try to control your attention, and will be successful part of the time. However, it is unlikely that anybody will be successful at this for extended periods of time. I try to manage people’s expectations on this one, but people’s minds are likely to imagine some perfect performance possibility anyway. You aren’t going to achieve that ideal control over your attention. That’s because there are beliefs that interfere with directing your attention no matter how hard you try. If you just discover what your Attention is, and that you don’t have much control over it, then you’ve gotten a great growth in awareness that is enough.
Actually getting control over your attention from those beliefs and emotional reactions is done in the Basic, Advanced, Relationship, and other courses I have planned. My point is that you won’t get any exercise perfect. So don’t let a story trick you into getting something perfect before benefitting from a new exercise, practice, or session. Keep learning and practicing in multiple areas.
As you get better at being aware of your emotions (Session 9) you will have more skill in identifying certain beliefs they arise from. As you break down these beliefs (Session 11 and others) you will have more personal power to hold an attitude of Acceptance (Session 6). Practicing Acceptance will give you more control over your attention (Session 3) Having more control over your attention will allow you to better shift your perspective (Session 5, 7, and 10) Better flexibility in shifting your perspective will improve your work in the Gratitude exercise (Session 1). These exercises work as a system to reinforce each other. When you get better at a later one, you can improve more in earlier exercises without having directly practiced it. If you try to get “perfect” by just focusing on a limited number of exercises, you actually limit how well you can do in that area.
If you limit the number of practices you do, you won’t have the chance to improve on that practice as much as you would if you included others. The work here is to become a better all around player, and not become “perfect” at just a small part of the game. If you were playing basketball, it would do you no good to be the best dribbler, but not be able to pass or shoot. In the realm of mindfulness practices, it doesn’t make sense to be great at a single aspect and yet not be a well developed and well rounded in your skills.
These kinds of sabotaging pursuits of perfection show up when people are doing the Free Trial sessions and consider moving on the Basic Series. There are sabotaging thoughts telling them that they need to be better before moving on. The same happens for people who finish the Basic Self Mastery Series and are considering the Advanced Series. They talk themselves out of expanding their tool set, techniques, and range of skills with thoughts lik:I’m not ready for that.”
“I still need to work on the Basic Practices”
“That’s for other people because I’m not really good at this.”
“I need to really get these skills of the Basic Series down before I move on.”
I think these are sabotaging thoughts and detrimental to progress. I generally find that people should be doing exercises that they are not ready for. If a person was ready for an exercise it would be easy, and they wouldn’t grow from it. For an exercise to be helpful, it is going to be challenging and you are going to struggle with it for a while. That’s okay. That’s generally how we grow stronger, develop new skills, and build new neural pathways.
One of my qualms is that I named the Advanced Series “The Advanced Series”. People have it in their mind that it is so “advanced” that it generates reactions in their mind. It’s not really Advanced in that you have to be an expert, or even proficient at the Basic Series exercises. Advanced just means it is a set of practices you advance to after you have done some Basic Series work. Later, if I get to it, I might change the name to something like “Self Mastery Series Level II.”
The Downside to Trying to Get Things Perfect:
The path to getting better is to practice a lot. Try, fail, struggle, make mistakes, and try again. That’s how we really learn, anyway. Be concerned with learning, which involves trials and failures. We learned to walk only by falling down many times. If you want to be a good golfer, you have to be willing to swing at the ball and hit a lot of bad shots along the way. With practice you learn to hit more and more good ones. If you keep practicing these steps you will travel far on your individual pathway to happiness.
For effective strategies in avoiding Self Sabotage, I recommend the Free Trial Sessions of the Self Mastery Course