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No 4


Taking time out for a few minutes of transformational reflection - cappuccinos optional!
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How to Be Better than Perfect!

I love this time of year. The changing colours of the leaves and their satisfying crunchiness underfoot; the exhilarating fresh nip in the air first thing in the morning; rediscovering the forgotten kinesthetic joy of snuggly jumpers and warm boots… There’s the unmistakable promise of something exciting in the air. Probably it’s a hangover from the anticipation of a new term, with new teachers, crisp unblemished exercise books and the unspoken opportunity of a whole new start.
I remember vividly the silent vows whenever I opened one of those pristine school exercise books… this time there would be no crossings-out, ink blots (yes, I was at school that far back!), scruffy writing – and definitely none of those reproachful red biro crosses. The whole book would be a thing of exquisite beauty and wonder…
And then, inevitably, the first blot or cross would land like an exocet, destroying the whole vista. Until the next new book, and the tantalizing promise of another fresh start…
There is something about the idea of perfection that can work like a perpetual carrot on a stick for some. For me, it was a mindset that continued long past my schooldays and elbowed its way into ever more areas.
Healthy lifestyle was one. Hands up everyone who has ever begun a diet on a Monday, ruined it by Wednesday – and then felt obliged to wait until the following Monday to start over again. Rubbish logic, but the lure of a fresh, unblemished week in which we can achieve diet perfection has illogical pulling-power. It’s the same with the gym – miss a visit and the illusion of perfection disappears… nothing for it but to sit tight until the next wave of inspiration to begin a whole new regime.
With the pattern set, perfection or catastrophe thinking can wreak havoc right across the board. Recently I came across a heartbreaking situation with a dad who disowned his son because he believes his own relationship with the boy’s mother was a mistake. Son and ex have therefore both been unceremoniously dumped in the less-than-perfect bin.
The pattern can be seen in other relationships, too: someone crosses a line - blots the book – and with the illusion of a perfect relationship ruined, the only way forward is to trash what they had and begin again with someone new.
The flaw in all this is that it is rooted in the biggest illusion of all – that we need to be perfect human beings to be acceptable – even to ourselves. Unless everything we are associated with upholds that aura of perfection, the game is up and we will have to to accept that we - along with the rest of the human race - are mere fallible mortals after all.
Funny, then, that when I think of the people who have made the greatest impression on me over the years, it isn’t those who have kept everything perfectly together in their lives. Rather, it’s those who have weathered major flaws and failings and grown through them… the true outworking of the phrase ‘there’s no failure, only feedback.’
These people make an impact through their genuine warmth, authenticity, and sense of being completely at ease in their own skin – qualities that actually come from living with no illusions about themselves, and owning and integrating all their experiences as they journey through life.
Their ability to forgive themselves and continue along the road affects the way they relate to others – like me – too. I know that I am accepted, respected, and understood - exactly as I am. It’s hard not to be drawn to people who mentally fling their arms wide open as you approach.
Sometimes as a Coach I encounter clients who are feeling ‘stuck' because of past defeats and disappointments. Often, revealing symbols and metaphors pop up as they explain their need to find a way to ‘keep the lid’ on a painful episode, to stop it seeping into their conscious thought; or to ‘wipe’ it from their roll-call of happy memories.The trouble is, these metaphors are actually holding them in to the sense of hopelessness and stuckness. How can you live life fully with half an eye on what might jump out if you fail to ‘keep the lid’ on a past experience?
Yet language and metaphors are powerful elements with a huge part to play in the way we experience our lives. The trick is to use them resourcefully to help us live in an authentic, compassionate and integrated way.
One client had a sudden 'Aha' moment as she admired a tapestry… one side a tangled mass of apparently random threads, colours and knots… while on the other, those self-same threads magically came together in an exquisite, intricate piece of art. She saw that it was true… no matter how flawed or random we may judge something to be, nothing needs to be negated or airbrushed from our consciousness: all can be acknowledged and find its place in an enhanced whole.
My own fixation with perfectionism ended in a face-off with the Japanese art of ‘kintsukuroi’. This is the amazing practice of repairing broken ceramics with gold – an art that actually makes the piece even more gorgeous and valuable than before it was damaged: the now-golden seams of the old cracks have become adornments, adding glorious new depths and richness. The pot is re-born, beautified, and has a whole new chapter to its life-story. At last, I got it.
So if you have had fresh-start junkie tendencies – what limiting metaphors might have influenced you, even sub-consciously? And what new ones will resource you to make peace now with your very own authentic, rich and fulfilling life journey…?

With love
Liz Ray is an award-winning TV Producer/Director and Presenter, and an accredited Life Coach and NLP Trainer. Having overcome many challenges in her own life, including a crippling lack of confidence and an eating disorder, she loves nothing better than facilitating others to be all they were made to be. Liz is married to Mick and has 3 children and 6 grand-children, all of whom are local to Molesey, in Surrey.

How to Be Better than Perfect!

Give up on the illusion of perfection - and find something even better!

'Perfect? I couldn't even feel good enough!'

How to stop listening to your inner critic, and start achieving your  goals! One client's happy experience...
'Ring the bells that still can ring 
Forget your perfect offering 
There is a crack in everything 
That's how the light gets in.' 

Leonard Cohen
'The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross
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Perfect? I couldn't even feel good enough!

Many people wrestle with an Inner Critic who constantly undermines everything they undertake. If you have a Critic that you would like to 'out' like the client below, get in touch with Liz and start designing the future you were born for!

I grew up being told that I was a low-achiever, and just accepted it. I expected to do poorly at exams or interviews; if I passed them I beat myself up about the things I should have done better instead of seeing what I had achieved. I worked hard at an unfulfilling job, and assumed that anything that really excited me would be out of my reach.
After meeting Liz, my thinking began to change. As she asked questions about my negative beliefs a light went on, and I suddenly saw how daft they were. I found myself recalling appreciative comments that I had never taken on board, and I realised I could do so much more. I am now half-way through a training course for my dream job, getting great grades – and celebrating them all!

SL, London

Copyright © 2014 Liz Ray Life Coaching, East Molesey, Surrey, UK. All rights reserved.