I need to come clean about a problem that has had an immense impact on my health, my business and my personal and professional relationships.
I’m a Perfectionist.
The never-ending feeling that I need to be doing more, that I’m not good enough, that I have so much more to do, has weighed me down long enough. I’ve found myself struggling to find inner peace and I’ve come to the realization that the culprit behind it is my crippling perfectionism.
I’ve always wanted feel at peace and connected with my wise feminine instincts, but my perfectionism has kept me in anxiety mode instead. I can’t remember the last time I felt good enough or gave myself a pat on the back for a job well done, even when others were singing my praises.
I know I’m not alone. When I see perfectionism in others, it’s somehow much easier to recognize the tell-tale symptoms that I have experienced throughout my life.
Do any of these ring true for you too?
- Overwhelmed by a lengthy “to-do” list.
- Feeling that you’re not doing enough or getting enough done.
- Comparing yourself to others as in, “They’re accomplishing more than me.”
- Feeling that you haven’t accomplished enough in your life or should be further along.
- Your happiness and inner peace go up and down based on external validation and successes.
- Frustrated at yourself for not meeting your own standards.
- You worry a lot and struggle with anxiety.
- Regretful that you could have “done it better.”
- You hold yourself back from something you’ve dreamt of doing because you’re afraid of failure.
- Constantly trying to self-improve in all areas of your life.
- You have unrealistic expectations of others and get easily frustrated when others aren’t living up to your standards.
Why do we/I feel this way?
I developed perfectionism as a default mode to cope with how I was raised. I was taught (whether consciously or subconsciously) that being “perfect” meant being safe and secure. It meant that I would be loved and accepted in my over-achieving family. Being perfect meant my voice would be heard and that I didn’t have to fear rejection. Unfortunately, that screwed up way of thinking just kinda stuck with me through adulthood too!
Ultimately, the need to be “perfect” has taken its toll on me. The stress of it all has contributed to my sleep issues, cancer, depression, hormonal imbalances, digestive issues, and my development of an autoimmune disease. While I have a handle on many parts of my life, I still suffer from feeling anxious, overwhelmed, and fatigued from taking on too much.
I’ve been working on myself to change these patterns in my life. I’ve had to make this a daily practice and stay vigilant and conscious of it. Unfortunately, it’s very easy to slip back into old patterns, but you have to choose to give yourself permission to turn off the pressure, replenish yourself, relax, and know that you’re still safe and loved – and now you get to love yourself, too! In doing so, you’ll also start to reverse the physical symptoms that may have resulted from perfectionism running the show.
As a perfectionist in recovery, here are the simple practices I’ve been using to heal:
Tune in and listen to my intuition
I have a strong intuition that gives me information in the form of physical sensations (a feeling of unease or tightness in my throat or gut), and insightful thoughts. If I listen, these sensations reveal my deeper intuitive knowing and my desires. This has helped me be more honest with myself about our motivations, and stay in alignment with my needs.
Give myself permission to practice self-care
Make more time for recharging and rejuvenating. Don’t underestimate the power of getting a massage, meditating, practicing yoga or getting out into nature. These clear my head, and decompress my body. I’ve learned that practicing self-care is not self-indulgent it is a health care must!
Interrupt negative self-talk
When I hear the negative self-talk telling me I’m not good enough, I give myself permission to interrupt with a new message! I think of 5 things that I find awesome about myself and repeat those to quiet that ugly inner voice.
When I compare myself or my successes to others, I’m defining my own self-worth in relation to someone else, rather than honoring my own beautiful uniqueness. There is room for us all, and we’re all needed. Comparing wastes my precious time and interferes with the gifts I have to share with the world.
Take ‘should’ out of my vocabulary
Taking out ‘should’ is a tough exercise, especially if you say it as often as I did, but how we talk to ourselves really does influence how we feel. If you want to get out of the “should” pressure cooker, don’t say the word completely for 3 weeks.
Give myself more credit
Perfectionists think of all the things we didn’t get done, rather than giving ourselves credit for the things we did – small or big. To shift that, I have a practice before I go to bed where I come up with at least one thing I did that day that made me feel good about myself. Bonus: There’s scientific evidence that this type of optimism can help you to attract more wealth and success into your life.
Why am I sharing this with you?
As I come to know myself more and have a deeper understanding when working with clients, I’m coming to realize that perfectionism is an epidemic. We could all learn to have a little more compassion for ourselves and take the time to understand the reasons I/we became a perfectionist in the first place. Until we check that part of ourselves, we can never truly heal.
I welcome and embrace a softer more feminine approach to my life. I’m learning to see that the Universe has my back and it’s a safe and friendly place. I’m learning to let myself rest and go with the flow when I need to. I hope you will, too.