Sunday, May 1, 2011

Good Enough

We were at dinner party with friends last week and two of the women, one a therapist and the other, a mother of two who had just been told by her marriage counselor that she was a perfectionist, were discussing the ravaging effects of perfectionism on women's lives.  The therapist was saying that women unduly suffer from this compulsion much more so than men apparently, and was encouraging our other friend to accept "good enough" as a standard she could hold herself to, rather than the impossible expectations that were holding her back from accomplishing anything at all.

I thought of that conversation when I sat down tonight to write this week's post, which I admit is late.  The fact is, I'm not sure I can keep this up.  Something's got to give.  Although I'm still on track to finish my book by year's end, I'm getting pressure at every turn.  There's so much work to do at the office right now, this past week I've had to come in early every day and work straight through my lunches, which means I've had to swim at night, which means I've had less time to write in the morning and to paint at night.  Moreover, there doesn't seem to be an end in sight to the research piling up at work!

The only way I'm going to be able to get through this is to work much faster.  Which to me can only mean one thing: not good enough.

In "Addicted to Perfection," Marion Woodman describes the problem as personified by Lady Macbeth who is "glued to the sticking place of insatiable power, unable to countenance failure to the point of rejecting life."  This archetype or pattern functions in modern women, petrifying their spirit and inhibiting their development as free and creative individuals and arises, Woodman argues, from the cultural one-sideness that favors productivity, goal orientation, intellectual excellence, spiritual perfection, etc. -- at the expense of listening, receptivity and relatedness traditionally recognized at the heart of the feminine.

I can just blaze through all of this and end up shocked and demoralized like the chalk lady I saw in the cement sidewalk on my way home from work on Thursday night, or I can try and imagine what "good enough" might look -- or feel -- like.

Can you?


Cynthia Wylie said...

I always felt that I accepted mediocrity too easily. That "Good Enough" would be my downfall because Good Enough was always good enough for me. I've been trying to connect to my inner perfectionist so that my work will be better. But I do get a lot done. That's the upside. I guess it's just about finding a balance between the two like anything in life. Great blog. Very thought provoking.

The Red Coat Writer said...

Thank you, Cindy. I learn so much from watching how you make things happen in the world!