Growing up as a child I never heard the term “practice makes perfect” used in my household. I believe that there was a sense of implied knowledge that if something was done the first time incorrectly, we needed to continue trying to achieve the desired result or face the consequences of failing. Today, as a mom myself I am not sure which one is worse, telling my son or daughter that practice makes perfect or punishing them for failing when they try. Making it more personal let’s take children out of the equation and add ourselves in there. Do you find yourself continually striving to be perfect, working towards and holding yourself up to this genuinely unattainable goal of perfection? Do you punish yourself for failing? Do you criticize all of your efforts and focus solely on the ones that may not have amounted to or manifested in the way you desired?
For a while, my answers to those questions was yes. Yes I wanted to be perfect, and yes I had goals and dreams that never came to fruition, and as a result, I emotionally punished myself. Growing through some of the experiences that I have worked through I realized that perfection is not reality and it will never come. I cannot imagine telling my daughter at the age of 8 to keep working on her tumbles because practice makes perfect. I cannot bring myself to say that to her when she runs crying to me wishing that she could be just as good as some of the other little girls in her gymnastics class. It would never cross my mind to punish her for failing or allow her to believe that her efforts were not good enough.
How do you speak to the children in your life or even your friends, do you encourage them, uplift and support them? My answer is yes, I always have and will continue to. I ask that because I have noticed that many people like myself understand how to extend that type of empathy outwards? We understand fully that our children, friends, families or loved ones should be comforted and their efforts should be acknowledged. Interestingly, we do not believe those statements and actions also apply to us. I am not a therapist to any degree however I have learned that self-compassion is by far one of the most difficult things for some humans to do. In my personal experience, I think it was growing up never feeling good enough just being me, that thought then became a core belief. That core belief became my motivation always to strive to be better than or perfect. I could never and hopefully will never allow my children to have these same thoughts or beliefs about themselves. It became vital for me to learn how to be compassionate and how to utilize words to help motivate them and acknowledge them without taking away from their sense of self or their abilities.
It is this level of compassion that we should turn inwards to ourselves. I choose the words that I use with my daughter very careful, understanding that children absorb everything their parents tell them and everything they hear and see around them. They also tend to question your theory which leaves you asking it as well. I make this point to say, just as you think about the words and statements you use when speaking to, inspiring or influencing children, think about the words and comments you use with yourself. What’s more important is realizing that those words and comments become internalized; plus repetitiveness or a sense of continued validation solidify them as they become core beliefs (or part of their belief system about themselves). Think about your childhood, relationships, friendship or even work environments; what things have you consistently heard that you now believe about yourself or that you are continually trying to fix? FYI, bones get broken, you do not!
You are probably wondering where I am going with all of this. Well, when it comes to transforming the way you think and see things (mental revolution), you honestly have to start with your internal beliefs and your thought process. I acknowledge the world around me differently because I see myself differently. I see people around me as imperfect humans just as I see myself as flawed. As crazy as it may sound I began defining the words I use (like hard copy Websters definitions). I needed to know the full meaning of certain words, and when I did, I began removing some words or only using them when the definition could be actualized — bringing me to the word perfect, which by the way practice can never make us (in my opinion of course). The word perfect as defined by Webster’s dictionary is 1. Complete in all respects; flawless. With that in mind, I do not believe that practice can make you perfect and I think that standard is overwhelming if you do not recognize that it’s not realistic. I could never be flawless as I was born with flaws and accumulated even more flaws the older I got.
When speaking to myself or about myself and my goals, dreams or desires I remove the words perfect and perfection, replacing them with MY BEST. Whenever I do something, I am going to give it MY BEST, not the best of anyone else, not society’s example of best but MY BEST. That’s all I can do, and I have to accept that my best is good enough for me. I also had to stop setting goals based on the goals of others. Unless I can replicate their life and their steps I will probably never accomplish what they accomplished and how they accomplished it. I can, however, look at myself, my capabilities, abilities, desires, drive, and motivation to outline a plan or goal that fits into my realm of being my best.
Micheal Jordan practiced a tremendous amount, and he never became perfect. He became terrific, great, exemplary and the best possible version of himself but by no means perfect. Being the creates that we are as humans we tend to place an enormous amount of value into words. Sometimes we do not consider the full meaning of the word. With that in my, I challenge you to be mindful in your speaking and use words and statements that are truly authentic to you. Let me know if you start seeing things definitely or start seeing yourself differently.
“Practice will never make you perfect; it can, however, make you the best possible version of you.”
Yours in writing and with monumental love