The Imperfect Journey of Living More Mindfully

Coral Gables Counseling Center - Saturday, March 09, 2019
By Courtney Waugh, LMFT

Mindful living is such a wonderful, nice, wholesome idea. The problem that happens with this idea and with mindfulness in general, when you’re a perfectionist and/or treat people struggling with perfectionism, mindfulness can become a job, another task that needs to be done “right,” and quickly given up when one feels they can’t do it.

The reality, however, is that mindful living is truly a journey of its own that is perfectly imperfect. It’s a huge part of overcoming many struggles including perfectionism, anxiety, fears, insecurities and it helps one become a better partner, mother/father, friend, person.

It’s meant to be done very imperfectly with progress made over time through practice.

The key to mindfulness is awareness. Awareness, or being the observer, is the foundation to any change or progress. So, on the journey to becoming more mindful, we start to become more aware of thoughts, feelings and judgments that arise. But rather than attaching to them, falling into the story, we just notice. We become the observer, not the player.

A perfectionist will tell themselves I’m doing this all wrong, I think too much, I can’t be mindful, I don’t know how to do this, I give up. Yet, noticing you’re thinking too much, noticing the self-talk telling you can’t do it, telling you to give up… that’s mindfulness. Starting to be aware of our thoughts and self-talk, our emotions and triggers all while not attaching to them and giving them the power we oh so love to do, is the foundation of mindfulness. It takes practice. Imperfect practice.

Some ways to practice being mindful:

Practice being observant and curious…rather than judgmental of yourself and others.
Practice making mental notes without attaching…Oh I got pretty angry there. Noted.
Practice being the observer, not the player…observe thoughts without reacting and buying into them.
Practice self-compassion…Thought: “I am really bad at doing this mindfulness stuff.” Self-compassion: “That’s okay, it’s not supposed to be done perfectly. I’m doing a little at a time. That’s progress.”
Practice acceptance…accepting the now without attaching to it being good or bad, it is what it is.
Practice giving yourself space…to be imperfect. Perfection doesn’t exist and when we become mindful, we become aware of how imperfect we truly are all while empathizing with and embracing this beautiful part of ourselves and others.

Here’s to the imperfect journey of a more mindful life.

How has the critical voice that often comes with perfectionism affect your journey of bettering yourself whether it be through mindfulness, meditation, maybe trying a yoga class?