Perfection. We all strive for it, right? The perfect job, the perfect life, the perfect hair, the perfect family, the perfect body... I could go on and on. We strive for it even though we know that true perfection is impossible to obtain. It could be that your teeth aren't perfectly straight, you didn't say the perfect thing at the perfect moment, or you lost the opportunity to get the perfect job you knew you we perfect for. Whatever the case may be, nothing is perfect. This world isn't perfect. But for some reason we keep striving towards it. Like if we try just that little bit harder, we'll finally get there.
I'll admit, I'm a bit of a perfectionist. Not necessarily in the way that everything needs to be in its place or that I need to look polished 24/7, but in the way that I expect a lot from myself. Maybe a little too much. Okay, more than a little. It's the way I've always been. Work hard, and you'll get results.
It's part of the reason I don't write as much as I'd like to. Everytime I try to sit down and write, it never seems to flow the way I want it to and then I'm not 100% happy with the result. Sometimes, I'll post it anyway, but most of the time I won't. Take this post topic for example, I've been sitting with it and rewriting it for 3 weeks now.
Where I see this problem of being too hard on myself really shine is in the ring. Maybe it's being out of the saddle for many years or maybe it's that I just wished I was more advanced than what I am. But trying to be perfect really get in the way of my progress. If I make a mistake, it sits with me. And then I take it with me throughout the lesson. Even though I try not to let it affect me and try to learn from it, what actually happens is that I obsess over it and try to avoid making the same mistake twice. Sounds like that shouldn't be too big of a problem, right? Well, like I've written about in other posts, that obsessiveness actually makes me tense and then instead of being in the moment, I overanalyze and the next time the mistake will be even worse. And it becomes a downward spiral.
Riding, as I'm sure you know, is all about connection and being in the moment. It's about the communication between a human and a horse and working together to accomplish the same goal. Well, that can't happen if the rider is trying to control everything. It becomes less of a partnership and more of a dictatorship.
What I've been working on is to be in the moment and analyse after. I've been starting to count the horse's strides as I go around the course. Not just in between lines or 3 strides before a jump, but all around the course. It's helping me to get out of my head and pay attention to what I am doing.
Being a perfectionist isn't always a negative thing though. It can be a good thing. If you retrain your brain. Instead of aiming for perfection, try aiming for excellence. You can use that perfectionist energy in a positive way instead of a destructive way. Think about it. We wouldn't bother trying to put in the effort into the things we love if we didn't want to try to make them better. This world wouldn't have progressed at the speed that it did without people wanting to make things better than what they are. And pushing their limits to get there. Don't beat yourself up when you fail. Failure doesn't mean that all is lost. It just means that you need to find another way. Always try to strive for better, but never let it break your determination and spirit. It's all about that balance. When to listen to your perfectionist nature to encourage you and when to ignore it when it discourages you.
Photo taken by me
If there's one thing I'm learning it's this. Mistakes are going to happen. It's what you do to move forward that changes things. Don't beat yourself up or obsess over what's already happen. Instead, take a breath and move forward.
Until next time, happy riding!