PERFECTIONISM IS A KILLER
So many amazing women (and men) I meet and work with are suffering from perfectionism. No matter how wonderful, strong, beautiful, gifted, talented, kind, helpful, etc. they are, it’s never enough.
Old learned thinking patterns keep dangling the carrot of perfection in front of them, that keeps them striving, and never relaxing into and enjoying their already perfection.
Our culture and society encourage us to always be striving and improving. When is is enough? When do we get to literally rest on our laurels and raise a toast to how marvelous we already are?
“Shoulding on ourselves” might seem like a comical way of expressing this, but if what we mostly hear from that internal voice is an endless litany of ‘you should…you should…you should’, then is it any wonder that we numb ourselves with all kinds of substances or habits to shut it out?
Speaking to the title of this post, the stress of perfectionism, the tension it fosters, and the underlying depression it feeds are killers, if not only of our JOY and self-esteem, but sometimes so drastically as to lead one to take his/her own life to stop the pressure of those endless ‘never enough’ shoulds.
Your freedom from perfectionism is yours to claim, bit by bit, thought by thought, day by day. You are free to be perfectly imperfect human YOU! You very well may have to face and challenge the thoughts and beliefs about accomplishment and achievement that you were taught in your family and in society. This is a challenge worth taking on and committing to; your joy and your life may depend on it.
Many years ago when I worked in an inpatient eating disorders treatment center as Lead Counselor, I was well aware personally and professionally of the role that perfectionism plays in the development of eating disorders. As part of the therapeutic process, I gave my patients an interesting and challenging assignment. I told them that they were to deliberately do ‘something wrong’…in public. They were shocked, and dismayed. How could they possibly do this? What would people think? We tossed around ideas of what they could do: spill their drink at lunch on purpose, deliberately trip up the stairs, put two mismatched shoes on, wear a blouse inside out. They were aghast…and they were laughing nervously! But they went off and chose something and did it, and then reported back to the group.
Their stories of being ‘imperfect on purpose’ were hilarious. We all laughed ourselves silly. And then we dove into how much it struck at the heart of their vulnerability and their feelings of low self-esteem to be seen as imperfect. Despite the initial discomfort, they found the silliness and the lightness in challenging the notion of perfection, and they had some fun with it. Maybe not at first, because let’s face it, their perfectionistic tendencies ran very deep and struck at the core of their self-worth.
But they began to connect the dots, and found the anger about how pressured they had always felt to endlessly seek perfection,and never never never be satisfied with themselves. And how that robbed them of any peace, true self-esteem, friendliness and kindness toward themselves. They began to see that it was self-abuse of the highest order, this perfectionism. And they were pissed!
That anger is the fuel that keeps us going in the work of dismantling the self-abusive patterns and replacing them with kindness and self-love. There is nothing wrong with you. Never has been, never will be.
Please seek trustworthy help and support if you need it to traverse this tricky part of the path of personal healing and development. You deserve to get to the part where you can relax,kick back, and bask in the sunshine of ‘enoughness’.
And I would love to read your COMMENTS here below, so please share them.
As always, I hope you SPARKLE!
Janice Masters, The Shaman Mama