Illusions of Control and Perfection

I am a recovering (some days, this is debatable) perfectionist and control freak.  Have you ever noticed that the traits in other people that drive you crazy are the ones you are most guilty of?  It took me a long time to figure this out.

I was talking with my coach about control and perfection.  For the past couple weeks, I have been *enjoying* (not) a break from running because of a wonky knee.  This is a problem, because I have lost control of being able to do what I want when I want.  It is very difficult to strive for perfection (or even visit the neighborhood) when you can’t play the game.  He pointed out that when you let go of control,you actually gain control.  After thinking about that, I would add that being in control is really an illusion.  Thinking back to times when I really felt ‘in control’ and on top of the game, I can see that instead of being in control, I was actually controlled by external forces.  External forces being other people, rules, conventions, circumstances.  I felt in control because I knew what the rules were, what the expectations were, and who was in charge.  Playing by the rules, coloring in the lines, marching to someone else’s drummer.  What felt like control was really comfortable, playing safe, no chance for the unexpected.

Perfection is an illusion as well.  If everyone and everything was perfect, there would be no individuality.  It’s our imperfections, quirks, battle scars, cracks in our armor that set us apart.  They are what makes us beautiful and attractive to others.  Those same things are what we see as our less than beautiful parts – shame, embarrassment, things to be hidden from view.  I think that we see those imperfections as things that we failed to control.  We need to learn to celebrate our unique qualities, with all our imperfections.  Not only celebrate our own imperfections, but also in those around us.  What an awesome way to send a message that *perfect* isn’t a valued ideal.

Personally, when I can find the courage to pry my fingers off the steering wheel, and let go of control (gasp) – once my breathing settles down, I can see possibilities.  Joy, laughter, forgiveness, love, play – these things don’t coexist well with control or perfection.  The only control that is important to cultivate is controlling the way you respond to whatever life throws at you.  Isn’t that really the only control we have?  How we respond…

So, with the knee thing – my workouts and training plan looks very different than it has.  Running is replaced by walking, learning to make friends with the elliptical, using the stationary bike.  Core and upper body workouts, swimming using a pull buoy (LOL – ‘pool boy’) so I am not kicking.  It all just feels weird.  Once I quit crabbing about it, and loosened my grip on control, I am having fun with expanding my repertoire.  No, it’s not perfect, but eliminating that word from the equation equals freedom to explore possibilities.  Besides – I expect to have rockstar arm strength by the time I start running again!

The picture of the sand dollars – I think illustrates that imperfections add interest and beauty – changing each one to be unique, instead of looking like the other ‘perfect ones’.  My second picture is of fog/mist on the ocean heading into the river.  I couldn’t completely capture the beauty – sometimes, when the sun reflected on the fog, it appeared that it was framed by a rainbow.  The fog was mesmerizing – inviting you to walk through it and see what wonders were hidden inside.  With a ‘control’ and ‘perfect’ mindset, you would look at the fog and not see that – you would know that the river and jetties were in there – no surprise.  Accepting imperfection and letting go of control frees your mind to explore and celebrate the magic.

Perhaps 2018 should be the year to ditch control and perfection.  (This is not license to go wild…some responsibility required.)  Can you do it?  Soon, we will be celebrating the birth of 2018 – think about choosing a word or phrase that you want to be your “theme” for the upcoming year.  I’m pretty sure my theme has found me.


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