One of the lessons I learned while I was in treatment was to do my best effort while letting go of the outcome.
I thought I was already doing that but I didn’t realize that what I was trying to achieve was perfection. I was never satisfied with the results I got. There was always something else I could have done better, differently; it was never enough.
I was using my need for perfection as a cover for my insecurities. It was a 20-ton shield that ultimately left me exhausted.
I now try to show up to life regardless of how I’m feeling. I just put in the effort without trying to control the outcome. And sometimes I can actually do it.
A friend illustrated this beautifully with a memory from school. He used to take a drawing class in elementary school. He thought he was going to get a bad grade because in his mind the work of his classmates was much better than his.
He was surprised when at the end of the year he received an “A”. He was surprised because he thought his drawings were not good enough compared to the work of his classmates.
He spoke to his teacher who told him that she had two reasons two give him an “A”: He was always present in class and he was always putting in the effort to do the work to the best of his abilities.
That’s how she graded him. That’s how I now try to “grade” my performance in life. Am I showing up? Am I being present? Am I putting in the effort? It doesn’t matter what the results are if I can answer yes to those questions.
I’m not suggesting that I settle for less than I can do. What I am saying is that when I accept my limitations I can then focus on my strengths.
Just for today, I let go of the need to control, please, perform and perfect.