Are You Killing Your Inner Child With Perfectionism?
‘Tis the season to be jolly’ apparently right now. Christmas is coming fast and this year I decided to make some gifts for people in a group I am a member of. Crafts and artistic creations.
My entire body got tense. Nothing I tried would work according to my perfectionist rules for creating art and after some time I finally finished one gift and collapsed on my bed in tears as I realised what was happening.
My inner child was being bullied by the inner perfectionist, the critical parent. And she had been bullied with regards to creativity (not writing), for a very long time.
I lay on my bed asking myself when this all began; when did I lose my spontaneity; when did I need it to be professional and perfect; when did my art become painful to me?
I think it happened even in the first year of primary school or upon starting primary school. I think before primary school I was playful, spontaneous, didn’t care if I scribbled outside the lines or messed up when it came to art. But something happened when I started school and I began creating to impress others, to get a positive response from adults around me.
This could relate to a primary school experience I had when I was criticised severely, but I somehow think it was before then.
Fast Forward Into Adult Years
When I look at my own judgements of myself and others over the years I can see now what was happening.
At high school my favourite teacher, Mr Graham, said how much he loved my art; my perfectionist art; my ‘looking for approval’ art. I was guaranteed an A grade on my final exam, but instead he gave me D. When I saw that D my heart sank. I was devastated. Art was the only class at school I really, really loved. I didn’t care about any other classes, but art. Art was the only place I felt at home and did not feel pressured by teachers, but instead I had pressured myself to impress, to out-perform my fellow students.
And I was shocked when my best friend Laura who did a very childlike pink castle for her final exam got an A grade.
And as I got older I was in awe and shock when I saw others do some simplified ‘baby’ art (‘baby’ in my critical adult eyes), and make a living out of it, in fact not just make a living but thrive at art and make a lot of money from something I always wanted to do.
It hurt like hell. I did not know why until now.
My Inner Artistic Child Has Been Locked Away For A Long Time
The strange thing is I attended an adult art class a few years back and could not stand being told what to do by the art teacher. I hated the controlling grown-up art that we were asked to do, but I now realise she was teaching us discipline. She was not restricting our creativity. I was either creating from a ‘devil may care’ attitude or a ‘this must be perfect’ attitude. I was not in the happy medium at all.
As I made my craft piece today I realised that the feelings and thoughts streaming through my consciousness were: ‘this looks crap’, ‘this isn’t good enough’, ‘this looks so amateur’, ‘I hate making mistakes’. Even though it was the first ever time I had done this particular craft project, my ego was bullying my inner child so badly.
So I lay on my bed and I did some Ho’oponopono.
It was needed.
I’m not sure how creating will go from now on. I will have to become super aware when the body tenses; when the mind comes in and tries to control the creation, and I will have to let myself fall out of the perfection box.
I understand now why, when I made Christmas cards a few years back with a friend over a few glasses of wine that my cards were amazing! My inner child was not held back by the critical parent because the wine silenced the critic in me.
I’m quite scared to let go I realise, to let the freedom out.
I am grateful to finally know why I had so much resentment arise when I saw people I knew doing so well in the artistic fields with youthful artistic expression. It was envy from the repressed child.
Self-forgiveness, self-love and acceptance are now needed on this subject.