Do you recall those days when a paper was handed back to you in school with big red circles or checkmarks on your paper? You did your best, and yet it was not good enough. Or the day you brought your report card home all aglow because you had earned so many A’s. But your parent pointed out, that B could be an A as well. Try as you might, you were never able to please these people in your life. Why? Because they are perfectionists.
Indeed, there is great value in doing things well. However, doing things well is measured differently by different people. To the english grammar teacher, a missed comma deserved a bright red circle and the more particular the teacher, the bigger the circle. To the poet, a missed comma can be a purposeful emotional expression of enhancement.
Over the years, it’s natural to accumulate a plethora of emotional red circles doled out by teachers, parents, siblings, spouses, friends, and finger pointing by people we don’t even know. The more blatant these are from those we love, the more wounding they become. Eventually our decisions become colored by our desire to gain approval rather than being our authentic selves.
In most cases, the “red circle patrol” believe they are being helpful. In some cases they are, for it is through correcting our errors and education that we grow. But as with the comma, one person’s perception of perfection can be another person’s bane. In the environment of school, we expect corrections. Out in the world where we are living freely in our childlike innocence, those corrections can be what stifle our dreams and shut us down.
As a result our self worth goes down the toilet. Our time and energy is spent in attempting to gain other people’s love and approval. For example, if I’m in the store buying clothing. Instead of pleasing my authentic sense of style, I’m concerned how my spouse, daughter, or friends will react to my purchase. As a result, I’ve turned into someone else’s idea of how I should look and act.
Society and government have their own set of rules for what is or isn’t appropriate within the masses. Here, the game of duality has its own set of fear based red circles. Many of those red circles instill anger that gets thrown about like frisbees we either catch and toss back and forth, or have to duck.
Where do the red circle patrol get their ink pens? These red pens have been passed down from one generation to the next based on how they have been treated since childhood. They are wounded adults in search of love. In their attempt to perfect you, they are attempting to appear perfect and powerful because they feel unworthy themselves. They too have lost track of their own authentic self and their own self love.
I have had several red flags wave across my psyche these past few days. Perhaps it’s all the planets in retrograde asking for self review. Or perhaps, I have become aware of graduating to a new way of being.
I read a lot. I enjoy reading. With the advent of self publishing, books no longer go through a series of professional editors. As a result, I am constantly running across published errors. As a writer they stick out like a sore thumb and I stumble across the words with my judgement. Once I self published my own books, I realized how easily these errors can slip onto the page no matter how often I self edit.
When a reader contacts me to point out a publishing error, I go into immediate perfection mode. I abort what I am doing and jump to the manuscript to correct what I consider my imperfections. On occasion, I might also become irritated with those who are persistently pointing out flaws.
The last time this happened, I was involved in something far more important than correcting one simple word. Red flags began swishing in front of my face. All the old red circles in my life began to surface. In that moment, I realized the absurdity of my prior overreaction to judgment.
Instead of self judgment, I realized this was brought to my attention so I can gain clarity for what is truly important to ME. I have nothing to prove to anyone else. I have no need to be perfect. Not to others. Nor to a judgmental self.
What I realized in that moment is this:
Every time I engage in judgment (mine or someone else’s) if I stew about it or feel obliged to point it out to another, that judgment is stealing my own self joy. I realize that other’s life choices do not need to fit into my personal perception.
My rule of thumb: If someone asks for guidance, I freely share. Otherwise, how another chooses to live their life is none of my business. I do not appreciate others telling me how to live my life. Nor do I appreciate finger pointing from others. Therefore, I have no business interjecting the same on others because each person is on their own soul path.
I have learned to relax into life, leaving the mental muchacha of judgement behind. I now use discernment. For anything that offers joy in my personal growth, I make a correction and move on. Otherwise, I simply allow it to be.
I have put perfectionism to rest. I honor all the red circles that have created my strong life foundation and I have released those that never resonated with me. I am now experiencing life though the eyes of my GodSelf who knows not of judgment.
I have stepped into expressing as my sovereign and authentic self. For the writer in me, it’s free flow poetry, occasionally making up some of my own new words. For the musician, it’s improv. For the artist, it’s painting outside the lines. And the child in me is delighted!!!
There is so much Joy to be had in life and thereto I pledge ME my troth.
~Sharon Lyn Shepard~
“Wisdom of the Inner Voice”
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