The information contained in this post is for general information purposes only. The posts on this blog represent the opinions and thoughts of those with ADHD, and are in no way, shape or form meant to be used as a way to diagnose anyone with anything. If you believe that you have ADHD we urge you to reach out to our general practitioner for an initial assessment and possibly a referral to a specialist.
What My Ice Rink Taught Me About Being Imperfect
I’m currently building an outdoor ice rink in my backyard. It’s winter here in Canada so the weather has been cold enough, but we’ve had some unseasonably warm weather that has lead to some rain. Here’s the thing. I’m not using an approach that many would consider, “easy”. Instead of using a plastic liner, which are prohibitively expensive for us at the moment, I’m using the traditional method whereby I compact a bunch of snow, and slowly add layers of water. As you can imagine this takes an incredible amount of time, patience, and help from mother nature.
I find myself feeling uncomfortable at different moments during working on the rink. It takes a lot of time to add water and my ADHD brain goes places. When I see water escaping through a hole, my impulse is to want to patch the hole with snow, add more water, and flatten it out. But, if I did that every time that I saw a hole, I wouldn’t be able to finish flooding the rink in a single session. This would lead to uneven surfaces due to weather changes. When I feel this way I try to remind myself that my current task is to put a layer of water on that space of ground. Hole patching is a different task, and that happens later. It’s not easy to reason with your irrational brain; but it starts by learning how to identify and experience your discomfort without necessarily acting on it.
The more days that pass, the better the rink looks. I realize now that every one hole that I patch makes a big difference. I have the kids out patching holes just for fun, and they are okay with filling one or two here and there knowing that it makes a big difference. I started took time to feel the discomfort that I felt about not patching every single hole. I recognized that I could have patched everything before spraying the ice in the first place, and that would have definitely been the best idea. But. This Is ADHD, and we do things differently here. Next time, I’ll patch every hole before I spray, now that I see the benefit. I needed to do Step C before Step B to feel, emotionally, why that’s important.
When we let the desire for perfection takeover, it can often lead to disappointment, failure and evening quitting altogether. We think that if it isn’t perfect then it isn’t worth doing. This is why perfectionism can lead to inaction, and sometimes even not feeling comfortable with doing a task that we aren’t perfect at. We need to learn how to process that discomfort.
Words From The Wise
Kristen Carder, host of my favourite ADHD podcast, “I Have ADHD Podcast”, has said a few things that have really resonated with me when it comes to perfectionism.
B+ work can sometimes change the world
Done is better then PerfectKristen Carder
Nothing can be perfect in one attempt. Complete the task, is it good enough? Great, you’re done! No? Then reiterate. Work on it again, make it a little better. Is it good enough now? That’s perfect!
How To Experience Imperfection
Perfectionism is a perfect feeder for anxiety. It’s an ADHD symptom that is misunderstood by many and sometimes inappropriately supported in children and adults. The rigidity of perfection is impossible for anyone, not just you. It’s more important to complete a task then to do a task perfectly almost 100% of the time. Complete the task imperfectly and put it out for feedback to the people that you love and trust. Be open to have made mistakes, and to receive constructive feedback. Be prepared to feel impulsively defensive. Don’t act on that impulse; instead, sit with those thoughts. Explore them.
You aren’t perfect, and can’t ever be. Your idea of “perfection” is an illusion of your own thoughts. You may look at other people working on a task and it appears “perfect” to you because you believe that they are doing it, or have done it better. That’s simply not true, and the other person might very well look at the way that you do that very same task and think that you might have a novel way of doing something.