May 27, 2014 | Healing, Healthy Living | No Comments
“I’m a perfectionist”, I hear many of my patients say to me. When I ask them to tell me what that means, they often follow with, “I’m really hard on myself.”
Being perfectionistic can manifest in various ways: an eating disorder, a physical injury from pushing the body past the limit during workouts, being overly concerned with what other people say (because you’re so busy trying to appease them, rather than being concerned about how you feel in the given situation), being suicidal on the down low for simply not being physically or mentally perfect (or not getting good grades, reviews, or feedback from people who are meaningful in your life), or becoming so full of anxiety that you operate from a place of fear in day-to-day life.
Being a perfectionist is different from wanting to excel and be the best you can be. When you have a healthy drive, determination, and focus, you excel in various aspects of your life. When you’re a perfectionist, your inner critic has a field game with your self-esteem. One builds, the other destroys.
When we glorify perfection in our society, whether it be perfection of body, beauty, career, family, home, or whatnot, we unknowingly perpetuate the unhealthy view (especially for women), that perfection = worth. And, that simply isn’t true!
I can identify with this common perfectionistic claim. I used to be so hard on myself, that there was no room to be human anymore! The tension would build within, and my muscles would tighten up, my belly would whirl with the uncomfortable energy of nervousness, doubt, and fear (little did I know, later on, that the feelings of uncomfortable whirling were occurring in chakras), and my body would rebel in some way, exhibiting itself on a physical level, including, but not limited to, nausea, anxiety, and your general feeling of not knowing what the hell is going on in your body!
One way I released myself from that craziness was learning to love myself, including all of my imperfections. I learned to turn off my inner critic, reset my awareness, and propagate my thoughts with much more positive self-talk. One way I did this was through meditation.
The meditation itself happened rather organically. I was initially turned off by the word, meditation, because, at the time, I thought it sounded too “woo woo” and unrealistic. Little did I realize that once I started placing a few minutes between sleep and getting out of bed when I woke up, that I was already beginning my meditative lifestyle. And, I didn’t start because I wanted to be enlightened (although, becoming more deeply in touch with myself became a joyful byproduct), but because I was simply so nauseated from my paralyzing anxiety that I needed time to decompress before preparing for my day. Those 5-10 minutes of chance check-in before I started my day soon became a scheduled hour of self-care that helped me do some micro-healing on energetic levels that I found were priceless!
When we make room for our humanity, which is exquisitely flawed, we allow ourselves the room to expand and grow.
No one is perfect.
I remember telling that to one of my proudly perfectionistic patients one day, during her session. She was not pleased with hearing that, because she’d invested so much of her emotional energy into being perfect. And, because no one is, she was often disappointed with herself. And, because she’d put so much time and effort into this ideal, she was often exhausted. After time, however, she soon softened to the fact that it was ok to make mistakes, and she started to consider that even if she didn’t complete a certain task, her life would not fall apart, she would still be worthy, and that life was still falling into place.
Because, that’s really what happens. Life will still go on for your optimal good, and no children or pets have been harmed. You find out that, after having built up the circumstances in your head, that even after your proverbial mistake, you are ok.
Being overly invested in being perfect stems from fear. The fear of repercussions for things not being perfect. This usually comes from having dealt with some serious consequences as a child for making mistakes, and sometimes it comes from something carried over from a past life, where mistakes were fatal. I often see this previous life issue carry over when the trigger reaction is extremely primal. The person actually feels as if they’re going to die if they mess up. Because, in a previous lifetime, that’s indeed what happened.
But, you can choose to live in your past, or to be present in the now. And, in the now, you have the ability to create new options. That’s one thing that perfectionistic people often forget, that they have options. So, next time you give yourself a metaphorical punch in the face for messing up, consider that the consequence you fear may not be the only one. And, also consider that the thoughts your focus on, can manifest. So, choose to focus on what will lift you, rather than cut you down.
With all the talk in recent years of rallying against bullies, we often forget to apply that to ourselves. Because when we put ourselves down with self-criticism due to our imperfections, we are being our own bullies.
So, stop the self bullying, and start the emancipation of your spirit!
How? With self-love.
A good way to start showing yourself love and care when you’ve had a long time of bullying yourself is to start making yourself aware of the language and words you use when you describe yourself and talk to yourself. Are they loving and kind? Or are they biting and severe? Choose the former, and you’re well on your way to starting healthier patterns based on self-love!
And my favorite affirmation I offer those who are feeling challenged when it comes to self-love is, “I love all of myself, including my imperfections”. Just saying this shifts the energy dramatically towards one where you feel more supported. And, saying this with conviction can be a game changer.
What are you favorite ways to embrace your human fallibility and imperfections?
Loving your glorious imperfections,
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