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You Have to Do it Right, Is It True?

blurry image from a car window
I just pointed my camera out of a car window and took this picture. Without the thought, “I have to do it right,” I’m just experimenting. There is no problem.

If You Want to Suffer, Get a Motive

I loved the Open Session recording where someone questioned the stressful thought, “I have to get it right.” This idea can be so debilitating. In the recording, the participant talked about her experience of stress while taking a class on how to facilitate The Work. I could relate. The pressure we put on ourselves to get it right makes it nearly impossible to relax, to open our hearts, and to serve.

Behind the thought, “I have to get it right,” is always a motive. Something big is always at stake. Maybe I need the approval of a teacher so that I can pass a class. Or maybe I just want someone to like me, or not be angry at me. With these motives running, it is so easy to fall into the trap of believing, “I have to get it right,” or “I have to do it right.”

Who Would You Be Without This Thought?

Free to experiment. Free to do it wrong. Open to feedback. Humble. Happy to be learning. Like a child trying everything.

To be without this thought is to be without the identity that I’m trying to assume. If I’m trying to be a good facilitator, then I think I have to get it right. If I’m not attached to the idea, then there is no loss if I do it wrong. I can be myself instead of trying to be “a good facilitator.” 

It’s just a case of false identity. “Good facilitator” is never really who I am. It’s not even who I really want to be. I just want to be me. I know how to be me, but I don’t know how to be “a good facilitator.” What the heck does “good facilitator” mean anyway? It’s such a concept!

This Applies in Every Area of Life ​

Where do you feel pressure? Just last week, I was feeling pressure to deliver the end of my course, The Work 101, on time. My identity was that I’m the person who does it perfectly. When time became short, I became stressed.

Who would I have been without the thought, “I have to get it right (do it perfectly)?” I would be doing my best, and seeing that it is plenty good enough. No stress. Just learning what is working and what is not. Free.

That’s How I Want to Live, Don’t You?

When you’re walking on eggshells for someone, who would you be without the thought, “I have to get it right?” And if your boss gives you a new job, who would you be without the thought, I have to get it right?” 

And who would you be doing The Work with people without the thought, “I have to get it right?” Who would you be making dinner, without the thought, “I have to get it right?” Who would you be in your marriage without the thought, “I have to get it right?” 

The list goes on and on. And in each case, there is always someone you’re trying to please, someone who is the judge of right and wrong. Someone outside of yourself. That is what makes it impossible. What if you just experimented, admitted that you don’t know what you’re doing, and opened to learning instead? What if you started looking for what works for you, rather than trying to please someone else?

I Invite You to Experiment

Experiment with doing it wrong. This continues to be my remedy. The remedy for being a perfectionist is to do it wrong sometimes and to allow the consequences to come. The consequences are: I can no longer pretend that I always do it right. 

When I really take this in, it frees me so much. I die to being right, and am born back closer to who I actually am. 

For me, this is a continuous process. And life shows me when I’m still attached to getting it right. I feel the stress of it. And that leads me to The Work. Stress is always my guide back to questioning what I believe: “I have to get it right, is it true?” Or I can question the motive behind it: “I want to be a certified facilitator, is it true?” or “I need him to be happy with me, is it true?” 

If you want to do The Work, I’d love to do it with you. Join us for my online course, The Work 101.

Have a great week,

“When the mind matches the heart (my name for our natural wisdom),it doesn’t discern right from wrong; it’s completely right with itself, always.” Byron Katie, A Mind at Home with Itself

Further reading: How do you handle story telling as a facilitator?

Todd Smith has been doing The Work of Byron Katie on an almost daily basis since 2007. He is just as excited about this simple process of self-inquiry today as he was when he first came across it. He also enjoys writing about The Work, and training others in the subtleties of this meditative process. Join Todd for The Work 101 online course, private sessions, virtual retreats, and his ongoing Inquiry Circle group.