Be imperfect

“I can’t do those yoga poses…. So there’s no point in me doing that class…”

Sound familiar???

We live in SUCH an outcomes- and prestige-focussed world that most of us are afraid of being ‘not good’ at something. We’d rather not even try something, than fail at it, or look silly or look like a ‘beginner’.

I’m not judging! I’m right there with you!

But I’m bringing this up because I feel passionately that we DON’T have to be perfect.

 

‘Perfection’ is all around us…

How many ‘perfect’ Instagram/Facebook/TikTok posts do you see every day? MANY – I’d guess!

This is becoming such a phenomenon that there’s even academic research about it. Academics call it ‘Socially prescribed perfectionism’ and argue that it is, in fact, a serious health hazard (Flett et al., 2022).

It’s not easy to ignore the seemingly flawless skin, the perfectly toned bodies, perfect family get togethers, or tidy and clean kitchens!

I’m definitely guilty of this…. Just yesterday I posted a Reel on Instagram about my day spent filming new yoga classes. This Reel showed everything that went well in the day. What it DIDN’T include was how we started very late because I had to go back home to shave my armpits and cut my toe-nails, which I’d completely forgotten to do!

 

The trap of perfection

Sometimes you hear the word ‘perfection’ or ‘perfectionist’ used in a positive way. For instance, someone might credit their tendency towards ‘perfectionism’ for being good at their jobs.

However…

THIS. IS. NOT. TRUE.

Perfectionism is, in fact, a troublesome personality trait to which a whole field of academic research is devoted! (Just type in ‘perfectionism’ in Google Scholar).

Perfectionism has been associated with burn-out (Hill and Curran, 2016), a range of different psychological disorders (Limburn et al., 2016) and eating disorders (Anderluh et al., 2009) – to name just a few negative associations!

I am, by no means, well-read in this field of research. But what I can quickly tell from browsing through a Google Scholar search is that ‘perfectionism’ is NOT seen as a positive thing by scientists.

The person who says “I’m a perfectionist, that’s why I’m good at my job”, is probably very persistent and determined, and has put in the necessary hard work to improve themselves to become good at their job!

 

Imperfection is liberating

So….. why am I writing about this?

Well, I believe that we’d all enjoy many more activities (yoga/sports/performing arts… etc.) and start more projects (work/creative/social) if we’d be OK with not being perfect.

Summing up the motivation and applying a sincere effort to something is what it’s really about. Not being ‘perfect’.

What do you think YOU can’t do?

(but secretly would like to do!)

…learn a foreign language?

…perform on-stage?

…attend a yoga class?

…run 5km?

Why not start whatever you feel you can’t do with an attitude of “when I first try it, I’ll be a beginner, and I’ll need to ‘learn on the job’. That’s ok. That’s normal.”

This is such a liberating perspective because it opens up the door to soooooo many new and joyful experiences.

 

Ironically…

When you want to do something perfectly, it is likely that you will feel so much anxiety towards that tasks that:

A) You might not start it at all, or

B) You’ll probably achieve a worse outcome, due to the nerves!

Instead… When you let go of the need to be perfect, you actually allow yourself to be more motivated to do something for the joy of it, which means you’ll do it more often and, usually, you’ll get better at it as a result!

 

A few examples about me…

A couple of ways that embracing imperfection helps me are in my own yoga practice, and in working on my online yoga business.

Whenever I get on my yoga mat, I give myself the permission to do the poses only to the level that feels right that day, and the permission to stop at any point if I’m really not feeling it.

This allows me to get over my resistance to practice (if I’m feeling tired or, shock horror, a bit lazy!). So it get’s me started, and uuuuusually I end up doing a pretty intense practice anyway!

When it comes to my online yoga business, I have sooooo much impostor syndrome! I feel like I cannot come close to the famous online yogis out there right now.

BUT! I know I should not let this get the better of me. So I make a great conscious effort to allow myself to ‘learn on the job’. When I started I was a complete beginner in the online entrepreneurial space, and I would never have continued to learn and innovate if I felt it all needed to be ‘perfect’ straight away.

I am STILL a baby in this entrepreneurial life, and very imperfect. And that’s OK! I will continue to put in the time and effort to learn more and improve.

What about you?

I invite you to take a moment to reflect.

What is it that you’re not doing, for fear of not doing it ‘perfectly’? Is it a type of exercise? A business idea? A healthy-lifestyle change?

In the coming week, perhaps try to take the first step towards this activity/change with a mindset that you can do it ‘imperfectly’.

 

Let’s do some yoga!

If you are a Bendywife Yoga member, I challenge you to pick a class that is difficult for you and practice it with the mindset of being OK with the fact that you can’t do it all ‘perfectly’.

If you learn how to embrace being ‘Imperfect’ while giving difficult things your ‘all’, then this will transform your life!

Open your diary, and plan it in!

❤️

Thanks for your attention!

I hope you enjoyed my ramblings. 🤓

I’d love to hear your views on this in comments below!

Jolanthe x

Strength, Posture & Mindfulness

I’ll help you gain body confidence and contentment

with short, easy-to-follow yoga classes from your LIVING ROOM!

On-demand and LIVE

Check out what I offer!

I’m a Small Business

Give yourself the gift of self-care for a super affordable price, while supporting an independent, small business!

I enjoy getting to know each and every new yoga student – so can’t wait to meet you!

Love, Jolanthe x

References

Anderluh, M., Tchanturia, K., Rabe-Hesketh, S., Collier, D., & Treasure, J. (2009). Lifetime course of eating disorders: design and validity testing of a new strategy to define the eating disorders phenotype. Psychological medicine, 39(1), 105-114.

Flett, G. L., Hewitt, P. L., Nepon, T., Sherry, S. B., & Smith, M. (2022). The destructiveness and public health significance of socially prescribed perfectionism: A review, analysis, and conceptual extension. Clinical Psychology Review, 93, 102-130.

Hill, A. P. and Curran, T. (2016) Multidimensional Perfectionism and Burnout: A Meta-Analysis. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 20 (3). pp. 269-288.

Limburg, K., Watson, H. J., Hagger, M. S., & Egan, S. J. (2016). The relationship between perfectionism and psychopathology: A meta-analysis. Journal of Clinical Psychology. doi: 10.1002/jclp.22435