Keep your engagements. Nothing is ruder than to make an engagements, be it of business or pleasure, and break it. If you memory is not sufficiently retentive to keep all the engagements you make stored within it, carry a little memorandum book and enter them there. Especially keep any appointment made with a lady, for, depend on it, the fair sex forgive any other fault in good breeding, sooner than a broken engagement – Martine’s Handbook to Etiquette and Guide to True Politeness, Arthur Martine, Dick & Fitzgerald Publishers, 1866.
We all have a film reel in our head. The reel entitled Great Expectations” seems to be the standard by which we judge success and failure, ourselves and others. Whether your reel is a comedic, tragic, dramatic or fantasy filled, it is a constantly turning and projecting. How we react when real life does not play out according to our film reel determines our resilience and adaptability.
How do you react when life’s actors fluff their lines or go off script? Are you flexible enough to change direction or do you lament the need to ad lib? And do you blame others when they do go off script?
Inflexibility or rigidity is one of the traits of perfectionism. What can easily be glossed over as a high standard, is really a low tolerance for deviation. Both in ourselves and others. This often leads to over thinking and planning things so that deviations can be minimized.
I used to be a planner. Researching, preparing and making sure each duck was in its right place in the row well ahead of time so that it could all be fine tuned if necessary. Now, not so much for I have discovered that my energy is better utilised in enjoying the activity or the company and in any event, you just can’t plan for every contingency, especially if human behaviour is involved.
As Brene Brown said: “Perfectionism is not about striving for excellence or healthy striving”. “It’s… a way of thinking and feeling that says this: ‘If I look perfect, do it perfect, work perfect and live perfect, I can avoid or minimize shame, blame and judgment.'”
Forgiveness therefore plays a big part in moving away from perfectionism. We need to forgive others for their deviation, but most importantly we need to forgive ourselves for our own.
There are some great movies in which actors ad libbed only to enhance the story. Who can forget Humphrey Bogart’s most famous line in Casablanca “Here’s looking at you kid”? or the scene between Richard Gere and Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman when he shows her a diamond necklace in an open and when she reaches out to touch it he snaps the box closed on her hand? The snap and Julia’s giggle in response are all unscripted.
The world is just waiting to be discovered through unscripted moments. We just need to be flexible enough so they will find us.
13 thoughts on “The F of Living Imperfectly: Flexibility and Forgiveness #atozchallenge”
the best part of movies are the bloopers..the imperfections, the stuff ups. We all have them in life, how boring would we be if we were so totally perfect. We wouldn’t be human. I say let’s deviate from what we feel is expected, let’s blooper our way through moments of intensity, let’s just say aww to hell with it 🙂 another excellent post…you do these so well lovely. x
We tolerate behaviour from other people’s children and pets that we would never tolerate from our own. This is just an extension of finding it easier to tolerate other people’s mistakes and faults than to accept our own. Forgiving oneself is hard.
I am trying to plan less, to be more spontaneous, but it’s not easy.
Great post. Two comments. One of my favorite ad-lib movie lines was in the movie “The Fugitive” where Tommy Lee Jones’ marshal character says “I don’t care” after Harrison Ford’s fugitive character says “I’m innocent” when cornered. The line was very much in character.
The other is about keeping your appointments. I had a client that often double and triple booked meetings. This is embarrassing and rude, especially after I confirmed the meetings before a colleague would get on a plane. It is one thing to make me wait, but don’t screw my colleagues over who have invested a whole day of travel and the flight cost.
Ah, now your talking. Forgiving ourselves is one of the hardest things we have to endure in life, much easier to forgive others and get on with life knowing it’s not worth getting worked up about. When it comes to ourselves, we seem to keep on thinking about what we’ve done or said, never quite getting over it. God loves us and forgives us so often, wouldn’t it be so much easier to follow his example and do the same?
Huge blessings, Geoff.
An excellent post. I am half serious and half joking when I say to people, “Hi! I’m Jim and I am a recovering perfectionist!”
While you can’t plan for everything, I find life is easier and nicer if you do plan and organize what you can with the understanding you need a plan B. I find friends or family who don’t plan at all spend their time reacting instead of enjoying each day. The blend and balance is what’s important and leads to peace. I also find being organized saves time and money.
Flexibilty …. Going with the flow. These are much more difficult for people like me who need to prepare ourselves for what’s ahead. Even simple transitions, thrust upon us too abruptly, creat angst.
I see it in children.where the differences are more obvious because their reactions are uncensored. It has become easier with time and awareness, but can be a challenge. Good post – have seen several about forgiveness – and all have been worthwhile reads.
I am more than likely to tolerate imperfection in my family and loved ones than I am in others. And people who are late or don’t show up…little forgiveness is given by me
I like to plan, but am flexible enough to adjust to unplanned or unforeseen situations. Inflexibility invariably leads to misery for oneself and for the people around.
i seriously have to learn to be a lot more flexible when it comes to my plan. loved your post 🙂
I love your theme Living Imperfectly! Kind of says it all, doesn’t it? I enjoyed reading your A-Z posts so far and I’m looking forward to the rest of them 🙂
I go through spurts on flexibility, especially with travel. However, I’ve learned with my husband’s family that time has no meaning. Thus I do not invite them to dinner. I have an ice cream social, and if one is late to that….well…….it’s rather sloppy. (Guess what? They now tend to show up on time)
Happy A to Z – very nice blog
As an improviser and comedy writer, I find flexibility is the key to comedy and life! Thanks for your post. Happy A-Z!