Practice Makes Better

by Janet Ong Zimmerman on 08/08/2011

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When we take the 1550s English Proverb “practice makes perfect” to heart, we put unnecessary pressure and unrealistic expectations on ourselves.  It can also keep us locked into our comfort zones and afraid of trying something different for fear of failing.  Love relationships give us vast opportunities to practice communicating openly, expressing ourselves, allowing our partner to be and do what’s best for them, being open to how our relationship unfolds, etc.

“Practice makes perfect” has a heavy energy to it and doesn’t inspire me to try new things or new ways of being.  It makes me feel pressured to do things perfectly.  When I’ve taken the approach of “practice makes better”, it takes the pressure off and opens up a space inside of me to experiment without feeling like I’ve got to do things right.

Like most men, my fiancé likes to give me advice.  In the past, I would become upset sometimes when he “told me what to do”.  I took it as, “He doesn’t think I’m competent and he’s trying to control me.”  I wasn’t able to hear the good intentions behind his words.  After several incidences, he pointed out that I couldn’t hear what he was saying because I was projecting my past experiences from my dad and a former boss onto him.

After reflecting on this, I saw grains of truth in what he said.  I started to notice what triggered this reaction inside of me by practicing being present.  Because I didn’t put the pressure on myself with “practice makes perfect”, it became more like an experiment.  I was able to stay open, curious and non-judgmental about the situation, him and me.  This eventually led me to understand his good intentions and be more open to his advice.  Things have greatly improved in this area of my life because I’m striving for better, not perfect.

What is one unproductive love situation that keeps coming up for you?  One that you can consistently apply the “practice makes better” principle? Taking an experimental approach to improving your love situation is guaranteed to move you closer to your ideal relationship.

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  • That addresses several of my concerns actually.

  • Dalia

    Whenever I feel ignored, uncared for, not treated as a priority, I tend to be aggressive in my reactions, cold, uncaring, and insist unconsciously to show my partner that he is good for nothing, as if I am telling him: if u think that u r doing something valuable here..think again, because i am the one who is doing and giving and trying to find an excuse for you..Any help on this issue..

    • Dear Dalia, the way you’re feeling is more about you and less about your partner. Unmet needs (i.e. wanting to have attention, wanting to be cared for, wanting to be a priority) are an opportunity for you to meet them within yourself. For instance, how can you pay better attention to yourself? How can you care more for yourself? How can you treat yourself as a priority? Practice meeting these needs within yourself, and your partner will either start to pay more attention to you, care for you and treat you as a priority. Or, he will continue being the way he is and you’ll know he’s not the partner for you. On an energetic level, your partner feels the negative energy that comes from your unconscious behaviors. Meeting your own needs will dissipate your aggressive behaviors. Sending you much love.

  • Cecilia Garza

    Whenever I feel unattractive, under appreciated or unloved, an overwhelming sadness fills me. My immediate reaction is to leave the room and hope that he will understand without me having to tell him why I feel that way (i.e. he doesn’t want to hang out with my friends and I, so I give him a distant goodbye before I leave; Or he does not feel like having sex, so I leave the room and I sleep on the couch because I don’t know how to handle sexual rejection). In most cases, he says that I’m reading too much into his actions, and that I should just trust that he doesn’t mean anything by it. When the time is right and I am able to tell him why I reacted so suddenly though, I find that by that time he’s disappointed in me for being emotional rather than trusting him. His disappointment in my reaction, then holds him back from seeing why my feelings were hurt in the first place. How can I handle future situations of rejection better??

    • Dear Cecilia,

      Thank you for sharing your story. As you’ve been experiencing, expecting your partner to read your mind results in misunderstanding. The only way others can truly know how we feel is if we communicate openly and honestly with them. Here are some suggestions for handling future situations.

      1) Express yourself in the moment, when the situation happens. While this may feel uncomfortable at first, expressing yourself in the moment will help decrease misunderstanding, may help him be more open and understanding about your feelings, and may help build back the trust.

      2) Try not to take things personally. What others do is more of a reflection of who they are, where they’re at and what’s going on with them. The message in this article may shed more light

      3) If you aren’t able to fully accept yourself as you are (i.e. not loving yourself completely), in a romantic relationship, you will rely on your partner to make you feel good about yourself. Your self esteem will be dependent on what he says or does. Work on loving yourself and your self esteem will be intact despite what he says or does – and in the process, rejection will dissipate. The message in this article may be helpful

      Please take good care of yourself.


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