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Tales of a Recovering Perfectionist 

Asha Frost - Tuesday, November 03, 2015

                      

Tonight I will be participating in a piano recital.  It is for "adult" students, and I have decided to participate.  Part of me thinks I might be crazy.  Part of me is super excited.  And part of me knows that this is a healed decision.  For it is going to help me to heal my fear of failure.

You see, at the end of June, I played the same piece.  It is a piece that my ballet friends would know well.  A piece that would lead to soul filled joy when I would stand at the barre to complete. Chopin.  One of my most favourite composers.  So I learned it and it was very challenging for me. Technically, after all of these years, I need to work really hard to get my fingers to work as well as they did all of those years ago.  But I did it.  I practiced my little heart out and I had it...

Until I didn't.  The night of the recital, I feel that I fell apart.  I made mistakes that I never made and was so disappointed in myself.  But truly, it was *only* a recital.  And we "all make mistakes."  But it hurt.  It hurt SO badly.  I ran out of there and did not want to look back.  I stuffed my music into my bag and did not go to my lesson for the next few weeks and just did not want to think of it again.

I remember my kind stepfather coming to me shortly after and telling me that he loved my performance and that even though I made a mistake it was so musical.  And I teared up, (behind my sunglasses), my heart so sad that I had messed up.  My heart so sad that it wasn't what I had hoped.  I had this intense disappointment for this one performance.  I kept thinking to myself:  "Asha, smarten up!  You are an adult, it is just a silly piano recital.  What is *wrong* with you?"  My husband would try and play the recording for my son and I would have to run out of the room.  So much shame.  So much sadness.

I couldn't even really think about it or talk about it.  When I went back to my piano lessons, I burst into tears.  This was ridiculous! I knew that there was something way deeper going on. 

And I had to ask myself, why did this one "performance" matter so much.   And it occurred to me that this perceived "failure" happened as a divine gift.  To heal my issues around being perfect.  And this one was especially charged for me.

For 2 years, I could not bend my fingers or write.  For 2 years, I thought that the arthritis in my hands had permanently deformed me.  And deep down, deep down inside my soul, my heart was aching, because I could no longer do what my soul longed to do, play the piano.  In my youth, I had played for 14 years and then took a long, almost 20 year break. When I contacted my childhood piano teacher after I had healed my hands, it meant more to me than even I could ever know.

I had healed something huge.  My hands that were crippled for 2 full years were beginning to unfold again.  I could express myself in ways that my soul knew how to effortlessly, with grace and ease.  My hands were proof that I had healed something in myself.

So I had placed unfair attachment on them to now be perfect, to never fail me, to express the perfection that my soul knew it could express...until they didn't, and then I felt like a failure.  My poor hands!  They didn't even know what they were getting into!

Attachment truly is the root of much suffering.  We attach ourselves to how we "think" things are supposed to go, to how others are "supposed" to behave to how *we* think life should unfold.  Until it doesn't, and then we suffer. 

Our big life lessons are to honor and love ourselves through our perceived mistakes.  To be gentle on our soul and just get out there and try again. Brene Brown speaks about "healthy striving" versus perfectionism.  I love this quote by her:

 "Perfectionism is a self destructive and addictive belief system that fuels this primary thought: If I look perfect, and do everything perfectly, I can avoid or minimize the painful feelings of shame, judgment, and blame.”

Yes!  Yes!  I am so guilty of this.  But learning as I go.  We truly are divinely perfect in our imperfections.

One of my good friends shared something with me right after my recital.  She told me that "perfect" people are annoying and I laughed so hard.  When I shared that I was trying again, she told me to go in with a light heart and to be playful and kind to myself whatever happens.

And that is what I shall do.

Forever learning, forever growing. 

A. xo   

   

 

   

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