The Four Agreements (Four)

28 Feb

Smiling Soul describes the Fourth Agreement as it was discussed in the workshop.  She says:

Always Do Your Best
Not necessarily The Best. Only your best.

It is impossible to be perfect.

He doesn’t want someone who is obsessed with perfection. Too much energy is spent with achieving your idea of perfection. Often there isn’t enough energy for Him. She (slave namaste) was really into a Martha Stewart type of home. He didn’t want that much time put into how a house looked perfect. He would often ask her to leave the dirty dishes in the sink or drink their wine in  paper cups to teach her to put things into perspective.

I think we often are perfectionists and it could be to our demise; not only with our dynamics but in life, too.

“Hi, i’m  aisha, and i’m a recovering perfectionist.”

All that about “it doesn’t have to be THE best, just your best…”  Hmpf.  Useless.

The website says:

“Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.”

And all i can think is, y’all don’t understand.  If you even say the “B” word, it sends a rush of anxiety right through me.

Sigh.

i can decide to clean the kitchen.  i’ll be cruising along, dishes all in the washer, wiping counters, then i get to the stove top.  It’s an ancient stove.  The more i clean, the more i see wrong.  i have an old toothbrush i keep for nooks and crannies.  i’ll clean with that for a while.  But the deep, almost hidden dirt is still out of reach.

A toothpick.  A toothpick with a bit of paper towel wrapped around the tip is just what i need.  Now i can get to that finely hidden dirt…

and half an hour…

forty-five minutes later, i’m still cleaning the stove top.  Trying to do “my best.”

Thank goodness i don’t have to do my best all the time.  Sometimes, i just need it to be “good enough.”

“Good enough” is actually a technical psychological term ~ no, i’m not kidding.  D. W. Winnicutt developed the concept of the “good enough mother,” and if you’d like to know more about it, this is a pretty good basic description of the concept.

Shorter version – if mothers were perfect, it wouldn’t really be good for their children, they’d be totally unprepared for the real world.  The goal is not to be your “best” all the time.  We just need to be “good enough.”   

Seriously, if you’re not familiar with Winnicutt’s ideas, go read about it now… i’ll wait.

Ok, wasn’t that cool?  So i try to apply the same basic idea to all aspects of my life.  There is surely a “good enough” threshold for cleaning the stove.  It’s something short of my personal best, which would require almost endless scrubbing.

The truth is, for me, it’s easy to go for “good enough” on most domestic chores.  Not really an issue.  It’s more difficult in other parts of my life.

Work.  Relationships.  Even writing.  Just think how crazy i could make myself.  Do you realize that every single day i have dozens of opportunities ~ maybe hundreds of them ~ to do “my best” on something?  

Conversations with staff.  Endless emails.  Sessions with clients.  Meetings, many of which i facilitate.  Paperwork.  Every single one of those things has a goal, a purpose.  Every single one of them is an opportunity to be done well or poorly.

Good grief. 

Often, my “best” is limited by time anyhow, and sometimes i think i procrastinate so i don’t have time to endlessly tweak and tinker with whatever i’m doing.

i wonder if part of the charm of submission is that when i let go of being in charge, i can let go of judging myself.  Not  ~ like dinner, where i don’t actually know what He wants, that makes me anxious.  

But when He’s there and He tells me or shows me what He wants, i can fully let go.  That’s what training’s about, isn’t it?  Learning to do it His way so i don’t have to worry.  

i know, i sound a little crazed for real today, don’t i?  Can’t help it, this is where the idea of doing my “best” takes me.

So i don’t care how many qualifiers and explanations you tack on to the B word, it still strikes me as overwhelming.  Blood pressure up, heart pounding.

That’s why i’m just not buying it.  i won’t commit to doing “my best.”  “Good enough” is good enough for me.  

“Hi, i’m aisha and i’m a recovering perfectionist.”

11 Responses to “The Four Agreements (Four)”

  1. vanillamom February 28, 2012 at 8:52 am #

    Master does not expect perfection. I really have few rules to adhere to. He controls my orgasms all the time, has full sanction of my sexuality. He expects a “good morning” and “g’nite” text. He expects a written orgasm report the next day after He allows an orgasm. That’s pretty much it.

    He’s not at all protocol driven. That kind of stuff bores Him. Be compliant, yes. Be perfect? No. Don’t yessir or nosir Him to death…he hates that.

    He expects me to be happy. To work my way through things…and if i am struggling, to turn to Him. That goes, even, for shit in my vanilla life …to call him and just cry on His shoulder.

    **********************
    As to the perfectionism…i have it to some degree. I’m not perfect (shocking to hear, right? LOL)…And I too have spent time scrubbing the stove …yet what you described to me reads almost closer to OCD..? Not that you can’t walk by the stove 100 times and ignore the toothpick in the grooves thing…but when you start…?

    I’m like that about things being in their proper places. It makes me wild when I take time to declutter, and find the spot for everything and the next day things are still strewn everywhere. It seems that it really isn’t important to anyone else. I’m learning to adapt to that…tho there are some rules I’m totally not bending on.

    my head is everywhere today. Am I making any sense?

    My vanilla is crashing into my D/s and I’m still subspacy and..I am kind of maundering on here…but mostly there is way more perfectionism in my vanilla life than in my Ds world.

    nilla

    • aisha February 28, 2012 at 8:46 pm #

      @’Nilla,

      No, my Sir certainly doesn’t expect perfection, that is all me. i wonder how many of us share that to some extent. There’s a research study for someone…

      I don’t think i’m OCD, although it does have some of that flavor doesn’t it? I think – for real – you know, attention is on a continuum. So at one end of the continuum, you have people who are ADHD or ADD, but at the other end of it, you have people who are uber-attentive.

      i think i’m just close to that end of the spectrum – a little over-attentive. Not easily distracted, can focus for long periods of time, actually have trouble shifting attention. And that’s true for me whether i’m cleaning the stove or reading. Add in some perfectionism and voila – cleaning with toothpicks, reading a book all day long, literally, til i finish it, or writing a blog post til i have to tear myself away, almost late for work. Yep

      And i bet you are a little spacy today!! Take good care of yourself, tonight, ok??

      much love,

      aisha

  2. monkey February 28, 2012 at 11:31 am #

    I so completely identify with the tooth pick, and 45 minutes later thing…sigh. For years I didn’t start projects because I knew I would not be able to “do them right”. I’ve been able to embrace good enough but still am occasionally swamped by the “do it right” compulsion. It is very deeply entrenched, think I’ll be fighting it until I die.

    • aisha February 28, 2012 at 8:53 pm #

      @Monkey,

      i’m with you ~ i’ve been working on it forever, it seems like, in all kinds of different ways, with different strategies, and it STILL pops up, much to my dismay. Now, i try to just say, “O, yeah, there you are. Go away now.” But i agree, it’s part of who i am.

      aisha

  3. Michelle February 28, 2012 at 11:47 am #

    You always give me so much to think about, aisha. Coming from a family where “good enough” wasn’t a option, I too stuggle with “my best” having to be perfection. I so get the stove thing – I’m exactly the same way. To the point I don’t start things because I get overwhelmed thinking of doing them perfectly.

    And I think there is something to the idea that one thing that draws me to submission is letting go of all that. I can let go of anxieties and just be.

    • aisha February 28, 2012 at 8:57 pm #

      @Michelle,

      That’s good ~ i think! Yeah, my family was big on perfection too, although they would have said they weren’t. Like i told Monkey, i don’t think i’ll ever not feel that pull to be perfect. Those early rules we learn go deep. The beauty of recognizing it is you can allow yourself to do things poorly. {i’m working on it…}

      But yeah, that submissive letting go is a real treat….

      hugs,

      aisha

  4. lil February 28, 2012 at 6:27 pm #

    Hello aisha, my name is lil. I have taken the first step to recovering from my perfectionism–I admit I have a problem.
    I’ll be recovering later over in the corner.

    • aisha February 28, 2012 at 8:58 pm #

      @lil,

      i read this at work, and in my head i heard a whole chorus of folks saying “Hello, lil!”

      i ❤ you!

      aisha

  5. smilingsoul February 28, 2012 at 7:06 pm #

    Another aspect to consider is we are all in the process of training to do things His way. Sometimes, I do things the way He wants them done and they are finished in the state he wants it finished. What I think is finished doesn’t matter. What I think needs to be done is sometimes in alignment with His list. Sometimes it is not. I have to drop what I am doing and do the task He wants me to do. (I have to add here. He works from home. So when I say I’m in a 24/7 TPE relationship, I really am in a 24/7 TPE relationship.)

    You learn pretty quickly to give up on your perfectionism with this scenario. I don’t know how many times I have had difficulty with obeying Him when told to stop what I was doing. It is a struggle to fight the urge to keep working until I think it is done. But i do. It is an act of surrender.

    • aisha February 28, 2012 at 9:01 pm #

      @Smilingsoul,

      What a lovely image that is ~ you having to accept non-perfection, learning to let go when told to… but i suspect it’s “lovelier” for me to imagine than it would be to experience it. i bet it’s tough.

      Another great example of deep submission.

      Thank you,

      aisha

  6. jade March 2, 2012 at 12:49 pm #

    Two tips:
    1. The steam cleaner with attachments is *fabulous* for jobs otherwise reserved for toothpicks. Just grand. It has this teeny tool that just rocks my world. i do believe “Shark” makes my favorite one. i started to explain it via the infomercial but….yeah…nevermind. i’ll send a link to your email.

    2. Perfection in my world is dealt with in a coping mechanism that could be named after me one day it works so well. It is my best invention to date. “Perfect” means whatever it means to the person i am serving at that time. “Butch Clean” is sometimes *exactly* what Sir wants. Okay….so it helps that i’m blind and can’t actually see the ceiling fans. But still…. it works and is highly adaptable. You don’t give up the concept of perfection as a concept….only what it means in any given situation. For bonus points, you can remind yourself that it IS perfect because its perfect to your Sir. To other perfectionists it just sounds *way better* than “good enough.”

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