Perfection paralysis is a very sad and very real thing.
But the good news is that it’s not a permanent condition!
The first step in dealing with it is to acknowledge and identify the paralysis for what it is. To simply name it. To bring it out of the closet.
The real problem with perfection paralysis is not the straightforward desire for perfection. That desire can be a holy beacon that points us in the right direction in relationship to our work. But perfection is by it’s very nature an ideal and an ideal is something that can never be achieved.
Where people get paralyzed is in believing that the ideal IS attainable. That the ideal is the only thing worth having. The paralysis is connected to the fear that they can never attain the ideal. Which is actually the truth. Because the ideal is by definition impossible.
So it becomes this endless loop of fear and desire with no action. No manifestation. No movement.
When people come to one of my classes and they are caught in that loop they will say to me something along the lines of ” I’m afraid to paint the ____________ because I’m worried that this thing… whatever it is …. won’t come out looking like how I see it in my head.”
And I very cheerfully assure them that they are absolutely RIGHT! There is no chance in heaven or hell that they will ever be able to create what they see in their minds eye. Because NOBODY can.
At first they look at me SHOCKED …. I have validated their worst fear. But this also seems to help them relax on some level. Because I am also giving them the message that what they are struggling with is true for everybody. It’s a human problem. Not just THEIR problem.
Being given permission to NOT be perfect and maybe even a little bit human makes room for them to simply create.
One of the most common fears that people have before coming to my workshops is that they will stand in front of the blank piece of paper the whole time and never paint a thing. Which is perfection paralysis at it’s worst!! I am also very happy to be able to reassure them that this has never, ever happened in my class.
Perfection paralysis can’t really take hold in an atmosphere of love and support. And relentless nudging by a pesky intuitive painting teacher!
So one recommendation I would offer to someone who is caught in that painful cycle is to come out of isolation and begin to talk about it. To discover that you’re not alone. And to find a circle of loving creative folks to help you begin to create again.