Getting it right: How to integrate perfectionism and self-criticism into a successful business

by | May 28, 2010

This morning after my meditation, I was visited by the image of my inner old maid. What a dried up prune! At first I couldn’t see anything to value, let alone love. I hesitated to approach her because I had nothing nice to say.

And then it occurred to me that I could start with what was true for me.

So I said,”Sure, you’re a great proofreader. You can spot an error in grammar a mile away. But you’re so mean! You nail me whenever I get too exuberant for your taste. (You say I’m too full of myself.) You’re quick to remind me that after pride comes a fall. And the fact is you’re just plain nasty to be around.”

Then out of the ether, this question arose: “What would bring you to life? What would make you juicy and kind? The kind of old woman I would seek out in a heartbeat whenever I needed counsel?”

Immediately I saw a vibrant old woman tending an English garden. (I’ve never seen such a garden, yet I know exactly what one looks like. Overflowing with roses, delphiniums, hydrangea, and peonies. Lush. Fragrant. A haven and an inspiration.)

Picturing my old maid like this, I found it easy, even comforting, to listen to her. And when she got preachy, I teased her gently. Sometimes I ignored her advice, but that didn’t keep us from loving each other. I felt toward her (and from her) enduring respect and affection. And boundless gratitude.

I left my inner old maid tending her roses in the soft English sunshine. The next time I feel assaulted by self-criticism or perfectionism, I’ll seek her wise counsel.

Besides, she serves the most delicious tea.
Photo by: Allie’s.Dad via Flickr
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