Introducing perfect polly

Feb 22 2014_4207

What can I say about Perfect Polly…Let me start with some background.

I believe everyone has chatter in their minds that convinces them of things. Chatter that says you’re not good enough, smart enough, or capable enough. Experts call them critics, false-beliefs, or negative self-talk.  From Sark to buddhism, cogntive-behavioral therapy to self-help guru’s like the Mean Girls Reform School; they all point to the inner tapes, voices, and critics in our minds that convince us to believe things about ourselves. Convince us to believe in the negative.

I struggle with these inner voices. Everyone does. No one is immune to them. Really listen to celebrities tell their stories, and they often talk about their own self-doubt. How hard it was to break free of these critics and and to ignore that voice telling them to give up on their dreams.

A long time ago, I nicknamed my negative voice; Perfect Polly. She wants me to be perfect in every way. Be the best artist, wife, mother, psychotherapist, daughter, friend… To make all the right decisions. Make all the right moves. Do it all without missing a beat. And…if I can’t be perfect, well then, why bother.

But the truth is that I am not perfect. {I know, surprised right?} I am far from perfect. What I am continuing to learn every day is that perfection is a trap. Perfection keeps you from pulling out those paints and getting to work on your next painting. It keeps you from taking a risk to make positive change in your life. It keeps you from being vulnerable enough to share your story. It keeps you focused on your fears rather than focusing on your intuition. {You know, Intuition, that beautiful wise voice inside your heart that leads you through the difficult times. That voice we often ignore and then later say, man I should have listened to my gut.}

I am no longer afraid to be seen as imperfect. I feel fear. I feel shame. I can even feel unworthy at times, well a lot of the time. But I am working really hard on not letting that stop me. Not buying into the idea that everything needs to be perfectly lined up in order to move forward.

The difference for me over the last few years is that I have called Polly out. I have named her. I am recognizing that she exists. I am talking back to her.

“Perfect Polly, I know you want to think I am not good enough to do {insert fear here}, but I’m going to do it anyway!”

It may take time to move forward. Change is hard after all. I often break things down into small manageable steps. But I keep moving forward in spite of fear and always listening to my wise heart.

I just felt it was time to call her out in public. To really be vulnerable enough to publicly say I am imperfect. I talk with folks every day who struggle with these inner voices. Who don’t even realize that they have a choice to listen to them or not. Who thought they were alone in believing that they are not good enough.

Now that you have been introduced to Polly, I will be talking about her a lot on this blog. Talking about how I am working on listening to my wise heart and not her negative vibe. I hope you will feel inspired to do the same.

38 Responses

  1. Ahhhh….the Mean Girl, our inner critic – she came to visit me recently and took over my whole life for a while – the Nice Girl has kicked her out but she pops back in now and again. These two will be subjects in my new paintings in the near future. I hope your Nice Girl kicks out your Mean Girl.

    Great blog post, thank you for sharing.

  2. I love that you gave your inner critic a name … “Perfect Polly” – how cool is that? And I guess your sentence “Perfect Polly, I know you want to think I am not good enough to do {insert fear here}, but I’m going to do it anyway!” – that’s bravery. At its best. Congratulations to a wonderful post!

  3. Michelle, this was so beautifully written. Getting to know Polly will help you perspective of her when she does rear her mean little voice. Your post reminds me one of my posts – I wrote myself a letter… You may enjoy reading it. xoxo

  4. This is so great. Brave and inspiring post!

  5. wallowing in the healthy-rest-easy-ness
    of this powerful peaceful share
    …..thanks for speaking true, brave you:)
    (I really, really like it here.)

  6. What a beautifully written post, Michelle! I love that you named your inner mean girl; I bet it makes dealing with her so much easier. I use my own name when I talk to mine, but I may try to name her now; big, little, mean, nice; all of them going by “Anita” does get a little confusing!
    I look forward to getting to know you better through our blogging journey.
    Have a wonderful “Brave Tuesday”!
    xo, Anita

  7. That Perfect Polly sure gets around! I have a gremlin myself and I work very hard to keep him off my back. My thinking is if I wouldn’t let him near my children, I probably shouldn’t let him near myself.

  8. I experience the same doubt especially when it comes to art. The need to be perfect can be paralyzing. Great post!

  9. I love it! I should call my “Polly” out more often!

  10. Great story! And YES we all have Polly’s in our life. She needs to bend over so we can give her a swift kick in the behind.

  11. I loved this post. Admitting that you aren’t perfect really is one of the hardest things to do. Also, I recently did a writing exercise where you name your inner critic … mine is named Elvira and she’s always sitting around smoking and telling me that none of my projects will ever work … Good job calling Polly out in public!

  12. Giving your inner critic a name is brilliant – you diffuse her power by making her just another character in your life. And, in case she hasn’t had the guts to tell you lately, YOU ARE ENOUGH – imperfectly perfect and uncommonly beautiful. Hope you believe it.

  13. Absolutely love love love your post, your blog and your art .. just so beautiful. Truly, great work and am happy to have subscribed xx

  14. Awesome Michelle!!!

  15. Love, love, love! I also have an inner critic, I never thought to name her. She undermines me at every step. You have given me so much to think about, thank you for sharing!

    • michelleturbide

      she undermines me too! but I am trying to talk back to her as much as possible.

  16. I also love that you named that inner mean girl and separated from her in that way. I love that you’re the boss of you and you’re the boss of her too! Whenever I create something, I like to leave something imperfect on purpose. Years ago, I took a bead class and there were some broken beads in the mix. The woman next to me said she always like to include one that seemed out of place…one that no one else would have chosen…because it reminded her that life is full of imperfection and is perfect in that way. I loved that!

    • michelleturbide

      I love that! In doing printmaking there is a lot of chatter and flaws in many prints. But I relish that. It makes the work so authentic. Thanks for commenting and following.

  17. Great post! Love that you are “talking back” to her.

  18. Michelle,
    I’m right there with you on this “issue.” I read “Being Perfect” by Anna Quindlen and it opened my eyes to how high my standards of myself are. Great post!

  19. michelleturbide

    Thank you Everyone for your amazing feedback. I so appreciate you and your visit to my blog. I hope everyone names their inner critic and calls them out.

  20. Hi Michelle, what a deep and insightful blogpost! I first saw it on herfuture.

    I would love to feature your post on Perfect Polly on my blog, with links and credits back to you of course. If this is ok with you, you can pop me an email at the address I provided and I’ll share!

    Tell Polly hello for me ;-)

  21. Bravo!! I love that you named her – I’m going to take your lead on that one! Congrats : )

  22. Love this idea and your blog post. Stopping by from BBTL class. Hmm, a name for my inner critic…will have to think on this. She needs another job perhaps! Lol, Nancy Lennon

  23. Michele,

    This was so beautifully written. I loved your honesty. Your words were so relatable.
    Even though you introduced Perfect Polly, I could hear your beautiful intuitive voice.

  24. […] the way of creativity. The pressure that I put on myself to make it a masterpiece. My inner critic {Perfect Polly} loves that. She loves to beat me up over my process and get me stuck in the perfection trap. She […]

  25. […] Polly my inner critic loves to comment when I am trying to create. She loves to point out that what is pouring out of me is not what I had originally intended. She likes to control and pretend that perfection is the goal of art. […]

  26. […] “gone” there in awhile, my mind would freeze up. I would second guess. My critic Polly would wreak havoc on my self-esteem and I would be caught listening to all of her lies rather than […]

  27. […] have taken detours from the dream. I have listened to my critic Polly and felt as if it wasn’t possible. I have hemmed and […]

  28. […] for me.  I have to say thank you to Michelle Angier Turbide for naming her inner voice “Polly Perfect.”  I even thought of giving that inner voice of mine a name […]

  29. […] with our dreams? With our wishes? With our passions? The mind is always getting in the way. Like Polly (my inner critic) getting into my mind and passing on her critical thoughts as my […]

  30. […] an artist? Do I create good enough work? Do people pay for it? AM  I WORTHY ENOUGH? And all those inner critics start screaming…NO, don’t think so, not yet, I haven’t proven […]

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