Adjusting my Standards

In a conversation with my coach this week, I discussed letting go of perfectionism and learning to live with compassion, ease, kindness and grace.

I don’t feel normal right now – physically, mentally or emotionally. I’m off-balance. Unfocused. It is unsettling. I want to hibernate until I feel more like myself. Wait it out. Isolate. I have a vague sense that this approach will not work and that I might never feel quite normal again – at least not in the sense I experienced normal before. I can’t be the perfectionist right now given what I’ve got going on. I don’t feel like I can do more than I am already doing, and it is not even close to everything on my to-do list. How do I create my life from this not-normal space? As difficult as it seems, I believe there is a gift for me here.

Don’t get me wrong, just because I think there might be something of value here for me to learn doesn’t mean I am particularly enjoying this new normal. Some ingrained parts of us are so difficult to unlearn that we probably won’t do it unless we are forced by external circumstances to do so.

Perfectionism is one of those parts for me. My circumstances in the last couple of months have forced me into a position where I have to let go. It’s not the first time externals have brought about internal change. For many, the pandemic has been one of those circumstances that have forced change.

The opportunity lurking in the shadows at present is to let go of my normal way of doing things – personally, in my business, in our house. I say opportunity because it will be a gift to me and those around me if I can develop a way of being that is much more compassionate and flexible. While I generally don’t have a problem being empathetic when it comes to others, it is much harder to extend kindness, grace and compassion to myself.

This is the gift in my not-normal new space. I don’t feel able to live up to my usual standards for myself. I. Just. Can’t. Do. It. So I must adapt. Daily, I practice letting go of the expectations that I would have had of myself previously. I remind myself to lead with empathy and compassion – myself first, then others. I ask, what is a compassionate, loving way to approach today? What do I need to adapt or adjust? What can I let go of that feels too burdensome right now? Is there an easier way to do this? As a recovering perfectionist, these questions don’t come naturally. I have a deep (and unhealthy) belief, that something is wrong if things are too easy. I’m working on re-training my brain to let go of that idea. I’m looking each day for the path of compassion, of ease and flow, of kindness and enjoyment. What if I enjoyed this activity in front of me? What would I have to change to help me enjoy cleaning these dishes or writing this blog?

This is the gift in my not-normal new space. I don’t feel able to live up to my usual standards for myself. I. Just. Can’t. Do. It. So I must adapt.

I feel like I am doing less than I ever did (which is not actually true). Perhaps I feel that way because I am doing things in a very different way than I have before. There is a new pace and a new way of being. The gift of feeling like I could not live up to my unrelenting high standards is in learning to let them go. I’m adjusting my standards. I keep practicing what it looks like to be empathetic and compassionate, to follow that path of ease and flow and to consciously step away from perfectionism.

Here is the surprising thing. With all the grace, ease and compassion focus in this past month, and the letting go of my usual standards, I feel like I’m not accomplishing a lot of what I should be doing. And still, things get done. Life carries on. In fact, in many respects, a lot of things are better. I like being kinder to myself – it feels lighter. I’ve eased up on some of my rigid ideas and I feel less stressed. My business is flourishing.

My opportunity in this time is to unlearn perfectionism and re-learn a path of greater ease and compassion. Progress, not perfection. My gift is to learn to accept exactly where I am at this moment and create today from that place. It feels lighter, more hopeful and kinder.

On the path to more compassion, here are some regular questions you can ask yourself.

  1. What is a compassionate, loving way to approach today?
  2. What do I need to adapt or adjust?
  3. What can I let go of that feels too burdensome right now?
  4. What would I have to change to help me enjoy this activity?

This Week’s Photos

Sometimes you just have to adapt your pace, change what you’re looking at and find something to be grateful for. Here are some photos I took this week that help me do that.

If there’s one thing, I want you to know it’s this: we all have shadows in our lives. It is my deep desire to help you to become more accepting and compassionate when it comes to your struggles. It doesn’t have to stop there. I’d love to help you to use what feels difficult to define what matters to you.

The work I do as a coach focuses on personal growth. That could include but is not limited to: developing courage and mental fitness, clarifying values and honouring those values in your life, setting boundaries, becoming more assertive, developing self-awareness and confidence, setting goals, finding your inner strength, identifying and dealing with the thoughts that sabotage you, support in making changes or in going through transitions, and work on discovering your life purpose. Personal growth can have a profound and positive impact on your career, your work and personal relationships and your general satisfaction with life.

This past year has crystallized for me that life is fragile. What we take for granted may be gone tomorrow. My hope for you is that you will take this moment and bring into being the things you wish were already here. All we have is now.

I’d be honoured if you would allow me to be part of your journey. You can connect with me here about coaching, get weekly inspiration by subscribing to my blog , learn more about me or what other people say about me.

Sue Das, Coach, CPCC, ACC, B Soc Sc (SW)

4 thoughts on “Adjusting my Standards

  1. I applaud your pursuit of life beyond perfectionism. There are many life factors that lead to it, including being hyper-attentive to details, and receiving encouragement from others who recognize perfectionists as being very dependable and self-motivated. Mid-game, perfectionism often provides satisfaction in successful projects and strong flow moments of bliss. But perfectionism results in hoarding opportunities for oneself, an exasperated and ignored family, and a loss of growth and skills in team members. Perfectionism generally puts the task before relationships, which ultimately creates sadness or worse. I wish I had learned earlier to focus on relationships, and recognized that high quality projects do not require 99.9%. I would have been happier sooner.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting, Rob. I love this idea that perfectionism has us focusing on tasks and not relationships. True. Perfectionism affects those around us immensely, but it also affects how we see and feel about ourselves. I so agree that learning to release the nasty grip of perfectionism leads to greater happiness and better relationships.


  2. Wow! Its like you read my mind! This is my constant struggle. To let go of “what I used to be able to handle” and accept my current level of ability. Physically, mentally, emotionally. And like to you said “to create today” with my actual self in mind, rather than my idea of what I should be able to do. Aka lowering my standards. Thank you for this post and helping me navigate this struggle!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reading and commenting. So good to know there are others on this path to more compassion and kindness. It is a daily choice for us and a great reminder to take it a step at a time. Progress, not perfection.


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