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  • Writer's pictureHannah Marsh

An Antidote to Perfectionism

When you hear the word perfectionism, what comes to mind?

Perhaps an image of someone you know: upright, rigid, immaculately put together. Or something more abstract: an equilateral triangle with its perfect sharp angles. Or something more personal: the familiar urge to get things "right"; the anguish of falling short.

Or perhaps perfectionism brings to mind that which lies beneath it. Under hard expectations may be a fear of rejection. A desire to be valued and accepted. A wounded heart.

There are no right or wrong answers here - simply seeing what this word evokes for you.


Once you have a sense of perfectionism, I invite you to imagine a spectrum. If perfectionism is on one end, what's on the opposite end?

Before arriving at a clear answer, you might give yourself space to imagine. Perhaps an image comes to mind: colourful and wild, like a child joyfully finger painting. Or descriptive words: free, light, loose. Or a felt sense: open, curious, willing to be wrong.

We'll all imagine something different, of course, which may lead us to a different answer. For me, right now, if I had to chose perfectionism's opposite, it would be play.

While perfectionism strives toward a particular outcome, play doesn't know where it's headed. It's an exploratory, present-moment process. We can make a mess, laugh, and keep exploring. Play is often dismissed as silly or childish, yet it has tremendous power. It helps us release the need for control. It takes us down unexpected paths and leads to new discoveries. It teaches us that it's okay to take a creative risk and mess up - we can recover. And in knowing we can recover, we may learn to be less afraid of making a mistake. We may learn to trust ourselves - to make space for a freer, bolder version of who we are. Play is proof that we contain something much bigger and more wondrous than any "perfect" self we could dream up.

In our next Mindfulness & Creativity session, we'll invite our perfectionistic side to rest, and open the door to the possibilities of play. We'll see what it's like to invite play into our meditation practice. We'll consider what gets in the way of play, and what supports it. We'll ask what might happen - in our lives and creative practice - if we formed an intention to play more often?

I look forward to playing together on Sunday!



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