Using writing, and meditation, and ice cream, and reading, and dreams,

and a whole lot of other tools to rediscover who I am,

after six years living with a man with OCPD.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Too Perfect Tuesdays - Chap 4 - On To Action

This post continues with On To Action from Chapter Four.

This series will look at a small snippet of The book on the Perfectionist Personality, aka The Obsessive Compulsive disordered Personality, aka OCPD, each week. Please follow along, leave your comments, engage more on the FaceBook website... whatever your heart calls you to do.

Too Perfect, When Being in Control Gets Out of Control by Allan E. Mallinger, M.D. and Jeanette DeWyze was published by Random House in 1992.  If you believe you are dealing with OCPD or someone who is "Too Perfect," whether that's you or a loved one, please buy a copy of the book and read it for additional insights that will not all be covered in these excerpts.

<snip>When a decision must be made, allow yourself a reasonable period to consider the available facts (as well as your own likes and dislikes), then register the direction in which you are leaning.  Acknowledge that it has its drawbacks, as every option does, and that it's not fail-safe; no decision is.  Grant that it might turn out to be wrong.  And just this once, fight the false notion that there is always a single correct choice and that it's always knowable in advance.  Accept that you can live with something less than perfection. <snip>
Once you've made the decision, refuse to question your choice.  Tell yourself that you can continue to doubt other choices if you must, but in this one case, you're not going to allow yourself to wonder about the path not taken.  <snip>
<snip> Tell yourself that you refuse to continue inflicting such pain upon yourself.  Then take a deep breath, let go of the conflicted thoughts, and get on with whatever you were doing.

I'm not suggesting you should never doubt, change your mind, or reverse your course.  If it becomes obvious that your path is wrong and another would clearly be better, by all means change directions.  Then do everything in your power to make that decision work.  Enjoy the positive aspects of the new direction, and resist dwelling upon doubts about it.


Life is not a game show - there is no guarantee that the "right" answer is one of the options we are considering.  Buying a shirt, as discussed in earlier Too Perfect posts - we can always find reasons to second guess: the other one was cheaper; the other one was more expensive, but made of a better material so it would probably wash up better; blah blah, woof woof.  Enough!   Just be happy you bought the damn shirt already!

One thing that helped me become more disciplined about decision-making was the deadlines with which I was faced when I was putting out a small newsletter for a private club.  It had to be in green ink, which meant (originally) it couldn't be xeroxed in-house, but had to go to an outside printer.  So, in order to mail on the 1st of each month, it had to be ready to go to the printers by three business days before that, which meant the day before THAT was final drop-dead proofing and tweaking day.  So, five business days before the first, I had to be done with it - any articles typed in, any headlines written, any artwork or graphics inserted.

I could dither endlessly over all those things - was this in the right font, was that the right picture?   Were the borders right, the columns - were there too many columns?

Sometimes I get hung up on prettifying posts for this blog; however, in order to meet my deadline (admittedly, self-imposed) of having a post for Too Perfect Tuesdays, every week until we have worked through the entire book, there comes a time when I have to "put the post to bed."  It will not ever be perfect.  Perhaps, given more time, I could find a more appropriate video clip or photo, but I don't have more time.

Having a regular deadline for any project trains a person to stop procrastinating, and to accept less than perfection, and to learn that good enough really is good enough.  Any act that is done regularly, from brushing one's teeth to stopping at a coffee shop for a morning latte - will become a habit, if repeated enough times.  Meeting a regular deadline is an excellent habit for an OCPD'r (or non) to form.

There's a certain confidence and pride that comes from hitting that deadline, month after month, week after week.  I know I can meet a deadline.  I know how to break it down into baby steps, and "back into it."

If that hasn't been a piece of your life to date, don't despair.  You can do it.  Start with, as Mallinger suggests, a determination that you're going to make a decision about one thing - and stick to it, no second-guessing allowed.  You've made it, you're gonna stick to it, you're going to make it work.

And then another decision.  And another.  You know, the whole "longest journey starts with but a single step."  Don't commit to failure, to "that's such a long way, I don't think I can make it," because you're simply teaching yourself to fail.  Commit to the journey, "I will do the best I can, right now, I will make the best journey, take all the steps I can, today."

Look at that baby - is he running any marathons soon?  No, he's simply enjoying his new skill of walking.  He's present in the now, thinking about the very next step, the way his feet feel on the sun-warmed floor.

Have you ever surprised yourself with good habits you've formed?
Have you made at least one decision today - even if it was something
like choosing toast rather than cereal for breakfast - and allowed yourself
to simply make it and move on?  No second guessing allowed?

P.S. - We're guest posting over at The Garden Gate - please stop over and leave some love.