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Jill Allison Bryan : Two Wrongs Might Make a Right!

Two Wrongs Might Make a Right!

By Jill Allison Bryan

Recently, during a wonderfully relaxing yoga class, our teacher suggested that we do something wrong (actually, she encouraged it). She called this doing a "yoga don't." The idea being that by first purposely holding a position in the incorrect form and allowing ourselves to feel that sensation — once we made the necessary adjustments and corrected into the proper form, our bodies would truly feel the difference. It would allow us to experience the sensation of the "rightness" of the pose held in good form on a deeper level. And, you know what? It worked beautifully! The light bulb turned on in my mind, and I experienced the proverbial "aha!" moment. "So this is how it's supposed to feel!"

After class, as I reflected on how well this process worked, I realized the similarity to something I had learned during my Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coaching training. We can relieve the pressure we often put on ourselves to do something perfectly, if we first give ourselves permission to do it imperfectly.

At first blush, this may seem counterintuitive. Do something poorly — on purpose? But, think about it. Many of us set the bar so high for ourselves, that rather than take a chance on sketching a less than perfect drawing, writing a less than perfect song, or hosting a less than perfect dinner party, we don't even try. Jill Badonsky calls this "Perfection Paralysis" in her book, The Nine Modern Day Muses (and a Bodyguard). She suggests that we give ourselves permission to be imperfect. (If you can't seem to bring yourself to do that, consider finding a creative life coach who can help.)

Once you've lowered the bar and removed the pressure — you can approach anything from a two-act play about your great-aunt Harriet the archeologist to a business plan for the burrito shack you've always longed to open without fear. It might even be… dare I say it… fun. John Updike said, "Perfectionism is the enemy of creation." The time has come to bid your enemy adieu.

If you like, give it a try right now. I, Jill Allison Bryan, creative life coach and recovering perfectionist, give you permission to do something you've been avoiding — and to do it poorly. I hereby absolve you from any pressure to create a masterpiece. This is all about getting started. Say aloud to yourself, "I give myself permission to write a really stinky poem," or "draw a really lame sketch" or whatever it is that's been buzzing around in the back of your mind that you'd like to do but keep swatting down like a pesky fly.

Have fun with this. You may choose to go for it and make something truly horrendous. A sweater with three arms… a casserole featuring brussel sprouts and limburger cheese… you get the idea. At the very least, you'll have had a little fun doing something creative. And, more than likely, you'll actually come up with something that's not half bad. (if you leave out the limburger) And even something that's not half-bad is better than nothing at all!

The other wonderful thing this mindset allows is the "aha" moment when you begin to enjoy the process. When your mind and body begin to remember the joy you feel when you pull out your cookbooks to plan a special evening, when you type away on your computer letting the words flow freely or the delightful feeling of pastels gliding across a blank white page, slowly filling it with color and form.

Rather than side-step the process completely, and abandon any hope of experiencing the joy that comes with doing that thing you love to do, break the ice with your own version of a "yoga don't" — and give yourself permission to be human (that is to say, imperfect!) There's a wonderful line from a song by Leonard Cohen which sums it up nicely: "Ring the bells that still can ring/Forget your perfect offering/There is a crack in everything/That's how the light gets in."

Here's to letting the light shine through the cracks of our own perfectionism and opening ourselves to the possibility of creating something less than perfect rather than nothing at all. •

Copyright © Jill Allison Bryan, 2008. All rights reserved.

Jill Allison BryanJill Allison Bryan helps people to experience the joy and fulfillment that creativity can bring to their lives with Creative Oasis Coaching. More »

12/5/08