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Practice Does Not Necessarily Make Perfect

Linda: Becoming competent in any endeavor requires the building of skills necessary for competence and mastery.

The general principles include (but are not limited to):

Technical guidance

And oh, did I mention Practice?

In case you ‘re not familiar with the definition of that word, here is the Webster’s version: Repeated exercise in or performance of an activity or skill so as to acquire or maintain proficiency in it. The key word here is repeated.

To develop competency in any area of life in which we seek to develop expertise, we need to practice. The best place to practice if you seek to master the art of relationships is to be in one yourself. Books and workshops are good too; they definitely help. But there’s no better place to pit yourself against the challenges that relationships provide if you want to really experience the rubber meeting the road.

Some of the things that you get to practice are:


Despite the old saying that “practice makes perfect”, in most cases it doesn’t. Even the most gifted musicians, doctors, writers, actors, and others who stand out in their chosen career rarely if ever see themselves as flawless in their performance, even though many others may see them that way.

Morihei Ueshiba is the originator of Aikido. He was a gifted marital artist and a great spiritual teacher. Mitsugi Saotome Shihan was a student of Ueshiba for fifteen years in Japan, and then went on to become an accomplished Aikido master himself. Shihan once recounted a profound teaching story about addressing Ueshiba saying, “Your techniques are perfect! You never make any mistakes. You never lose your center!” To which his wise, accomplished teacher replied, “I lose my center frequently. I just find it again so quickly that you can’t see it.”

The development of any new skill involves the process of moving forward and then slipping backward repeatedly. That’s where patience comes in. If we expect that it’s a steady path upwards to mastery, we’re likely to get disappointed, frustrated and will probably eventually stop practicing. In order to master the art of relationships we need to become skilled in the art of “conscious combat”. Although most of us would prefer to avoid conflict, because of the inevitability of being with someone with whom we have some differences in how we see things, in our personalities, and even certain values, learning to manage differences before they turn into destructive combat is a more realistic view.

Like Ueshiba, we may not be able to always stay centered, but we may recover when we lose our center. It’s possible in fact, to recover so quickly that no one but ourselves even notices that we temporarily lost it. But this takes practice and that means that we have to be willing to experience being thrown. Not just literally thrown like a practicing martial artist but thrown off our internal center which happens when we lose it, the “it” being our sense of emotional balance.

Every instance of losing it in an argument represents another opportunity to practice getting it back. This happens more quickly, with less effort, and automatically, once we have overridden the old habit of reacting with defensiveness and/or offensiveness. Our new default becomes an instinct to:

1. Experience the feeling that is being activated
2. Breathe
3. Identify the feeling
4. Take a moment to pause and reflect
5. Communicate your experience to your partner
6. Repeat until you either feel more complete or need to take a break or a time out.

At first this process may feel awkward. Even though practice doesn’t necessarily make perfect, after a few repetitions, it begins to feel natural and you will find yourself running through the steps more quickly. At first it may take several minutes to get through the steps. You may not even be able to get through them all. In time, you will find yourself going through the whole process in seconds. Eventually you will be able to complete the process within yourself, without your partner even noticing.

Misunderstandings come up at least occasionally, but they need not derail us. And even if they do, we can put ourselves on track by focusing on what we can do to get re-railed rather than what they did that threw us off. The realization that we can be an effective agent in this process rather than a helpless victim is a game-changer. When we see the results of our experience, it’s hard to ever go back. But then, why would you want to?


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Practice Does Not Necessarily Make Perfect


Linda Bloom LCSW and Charlie Bloom MSW are considered experts in the field of relationships. They have been married since 1972. They have both been trained as seminar leaders, therapists and relationship counselors and have been working with individuals, couples, and groups since 1975. They have been featured presenters at numerous conferences, universities, and institutions of learning throughout the country and overseas as well. They have appeared on over two hundred radio and TV programs. Linda and Charlie are co-authors of the widely acclaimed books: 101 Things I Wish I Knew When I Got Married: Simple Lessons to Make Love Last (over 100,000 copies sold) Secrets of Great Marriages: Real Truth from Real Couples about Lasting Love, and Happily Ever After...and 39 Other Myths about Love: Breaking Through to the Relationship of Your Dreams. The Blooms are excited to announce the release of their fourth book, That Which Doesn't Kill Us: How One Couple Became Stronger at the Broken Places. They live in Santa Cruz, California, near their two children and three grandchildren. To view our upcoming events and to sign up for our free newsletter, visit our website at:

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APA Reference
Bloom, L. (2020). Practice Does Not Necessarily Make Perfect. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 26, 2020, from


Last updated: 13 Feb 2020
Statement of review: Psych Central does not review the content that appears in our blog network ( prior to publication. All opinions expressed herein are exclusively those of the author alone, and do not reflect the views of the editorial staff or management of Psych Central. Published on All rights reserved.