Friday, July 22, 2011

We Begin From Here: HSPs and Perfectionism

After somewhat of a hiatus from the HSP Community, I am slowly returning to writing, and to "being involved."

The last couple of years have been somewhat of a blur. It has been a good blur, though-- involving many life changes and a lot of personal growth. Still, I have repeatedly come face-to-face with the reality that we HSPs go into "overwhelm mode" when we have too many things on our plate, all at once. Once upon a time I would simply have forced myself to get everything done, but I have learned a measure of discernment that allows me to let certain things "drop out of the loop" so I can focus what energy I do have to give on what is the most important.

"Coming back" has always been an interesting process, for me. Coming back from vacation, coming back from illness, coming back from a period of overwhelm, coming back from an absence. Coming back TO writing and community involvement. Or to a hobby. Or a job, or way of life.

I always end up at the same place: "Where do I begin?"

Seems like a simple enough question, right?

Not so fast. It takes me very little time to get all worked up in the process of figuring out where and how to reach "the perfect re-insertion point." Very quickly, something as simple as sitting down to write a few words becomes this giant nightmare of studying dozens of my own private blog entries from the past couple of years, brainstorming with myself for hours, and basically turning a very simple task into a complex problem that makes the planning of D-Day look like a picnic. Because, after all, "everything must be perfect."

The truth is that all I am trying to do right now is get back in the habit of writing, reaching out and connecting with the community. The whole notion that I somehow am only "allowed" to return once I've mapped out the next six months in great detail is... well, a self-imposed nightmare. Indeed, I do have a lot of "80% done" articles I would like to share, but trying to make their completion and scheduling part of this moment is really irrelevant. Not only that, it becomes a way for me to get caught in an eternal loop of (metaphorically) "cleaning my desk perfectly before I can do my work."

HSPs-- as a group-- probably struggle more with this kind of perfectionism than any other subgroup of the population. We can label it "conscientiousness" (or something else) till we're blue in the face, but ultimately we're just "getting in our own way."

Sure, I probably have 20-25 viable articles I've started... and could finish writing "before I am ready to return to blogging." And I probably will finish them. But for now?

I am choosing To Begin From Here.

A lot of sages and gurus teach this very thing. After all, "the past" has already unfolded... and we can't do anything about it. In this case, the past is represented by my partly finished articles, and my choice to step away to deal with more important things. That has happened. It's done. No amount of getting "perfectly prepared" will undo it.

The future? Well, it's always fluid; in motion; unpredictable. No matter how much we may plan and scheme, there will never be "a perfect moment" in the future... in which we resume whatever it is we've been waiting to start. We just have to start somewhere, and then wing it.

So whatever you have going on, out there... and have been "planning" and "thinking about..." I'd suggest you simply start where you are.

And yes (for those of you I can hear protesting and rationalizing). It IS just that easy...

Talk Back: Do you struggle with various forms of perfectionism? Do you tend to "get in your own way" when starting or resuming a project? Do you find yourself (metaphorically) "cleaning your desk" eternally before you can start anything? 


  1. I am so glad you're back! And I must say with PERFECT timing! I've been struggling with perfection, overwhelm, and getting in my own way all week. Thank-you for sharing this.

  2. Well said. An effective piece of meta-writing.

    The honesty, authenticity, and congruence that comes through in what you've shared speaks, in my opinion, more effectively and more helpfully than a so-called 'perfectly polished' piece.

    But then I'm a big fan of things like raw silk and oaken furniture. I appreciate the spontaneity of a communication from 'within process'.

    More than that, however, is the fact that when one has done a great deal of contemplation and writing in the past, there's a certain polish that remains even when expressing oneself spontaneously.

  3. Reading this i do relate; except it seems to me you took a lot of words to simply say that there is no time to do something other than just go ahead and get started; to prepare for it is another excuse to delay it; if we had to prepare ourselves to do things everyday; there are so many of us who would never get anything done; myself included...we do things because we if a person wants to restart something like writing or whatever it may be; they simply need to stop procrastinating and like the nike slogan says; Just do IT!!!....I have made many excuses to put off doing something and then my inner voice will speak to ask me why i am waiting; just do it...and i find that when i get started it is easier than the procrastination of preparing to get it done...

  4. Perfection somehow for me lead to procrastination. To solve this..I've to begin everything no matter what.. but it end up to be preparation for real matter! Because still I look for perfection..

    ps: Thank goodness You've back! Really need your article since "Perceptions and Reality: Childhood, Part One "..greeting from Malaysia!


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