I remember going for a walk with one of my girlfriends who was talking about some her struggles with emotional eating and dating. I couldn't help but notice how incredibly hard she was on herself, as I used to do the same to myself....so I asked "Do you think you might be a perfectionist?"
She turned to me, laughed, and said "Well...that would be ironic because I'm the farthest thing from perfect!"
We both died laughing, knowing that both of us were internally trying to force perfection while externally our behavior and results were far from it.
I think back to this moment often now, because I see so many women (and men, for that matter) struggle with the same thing. Whether it's with our bodies, our relationships, our habits, our careers, or even our 'spiritual growth'....we're always want to get it right, be the best, and never let anyone see us sweat or slip up.
And when we do slip up, or take 'imperfect' action, we feel shameful, and hopeless.
It's a shitty feeling.
So how do we surrender our perfectionism and flow with a little more grace and love? We've all heard that 'perfectionism doesn't exist." Which is a nice refrigerator magnet, but how do we ACTUALLY embody that? We have to dig deeper into our own experience with perfectionism.
Let's unpack it a little further. Grab a journal and take a few minutes of yourself to work through some of these questions.
1) Who do I have to be in order to be loved and accepted?
My man Tony Robbins asks the question "Who's love did you crave more? Your Mom or your Dad? And who did you have to be for them to love you?" as a a starting place to get people clear on some of the qualities they deemed worthy and acceptable as a child.
Did you have to smart, disciplined, and focused on school in order to get your father's approval? Did you have to be soft-spoken and well-behaved for your mother to love you?
Because these ideals we set when we were child are ultimately dictating the persona we try and live up to as an adult.
And now, let's stretch even further. Who do you have to be now to be loved and accepted? And not just from your parents. From your friends, your boss, your lover, SOCIETY,? We all have our own ideal image of who we have to be in the world to be loved, accepted, and of course.....admired.
For me, I believe I need to be healthy, positive, ambitious, loving, inspirational, and resilient. Which I am a lot of the time. WOO! But, on those days where I feel unmotivated and want to hide on my couch watching Netflix eating popcorn....I get hit with the shame spiral.
"If they only knew how you really were, Caty. You shouldn't be doing this! You're never going to get anywhere in life if you keep falling into this trap."
Luckily, I've developed a strong awareness of my inner critic so I can snap myself out of this in moments and rebuttal back with "It's okay, Caty. You've been working really hard lately and just need some time right now to relax. I love you and it's okay."
But, damn....I remember the days when I had no idea WTF an inner critic even was, much less how to dissociate from it. And I'd let that negative Nancy ruin my entire day.
And what's ironic is, that inner critic never motivated me to take action. She just hung around with me all day on the couch distracting me from paying attention to whatever lame, binge-worthy series I was watching.
So, to sum up here, your sense of love and worthiness for yourself needs to be unconditional. We can't withhold love and acceptance for ourselves (or others) until we meet certain set expectations. That's a trap. Make the commitment now to offer love to yourself no matter what you achieve or how badly you fuck up.
2) How is my perfectionism keeping me stuck?
People that struggle with perfectionism have an increasingly difficult time taking action. Especially when that actions puts them at risk of being vulnerable.
I can't tell you how many clients and friends I have that have big, beautiful desires inside of their heart, but make a crap ton of excuses as to why they're not "ready yet."
"Once I lose a little more weight, then I'll start putting myself out there and dating."
"Once I get more comfortable in my message, then I'll start writing a blog."
I hear these empty promises all of the time. And it breaks my heart because I know that if they keep this same mindset, they will NEVER take the action to fuel their desires.
When you catch yourself in resistance or procrastination, stop and take a deep breath. Put your hand on your heart and say "I am worthy of taking action on my desires. I will love and accept myself no matter what happens."
Don't get me wrong, you're still going to feel uncomfortable. Taking action that pushes us outside of our comfort zones never feels good, but we can never reach our desires unless we push through discomfort and take action.
Ask yourself "What actions have I delayed because I don't feel 'ready'?" Because this idea that you need to feel READY is just your perfectionism in disguise.
People that make strides in their lives and get what they want don't wait to feel ready. They know they're not perfect. And they do it anyways. It's part of the process. EMBRACE IT!
3) How is perfectionism blocking me from connecting with others?
If you're constantly in your head worried about the way you look, how people are perceiving you, and how badly you fucked up at work....it's impossible to be present with other people. We're in our heads, not in our hearts. And people can feel it.
Not to mention, if we're constantly hiding behind this mask of perfectionism, we never let true selves be seen and loved. And I know what you're thinking "I don't pretend to be perfect!"
Maybe you don't pretend to be PERFECT, but you certainly don't let people see ALL of you. You'd rather pretend to have your shit together than let people see that sometimes you're an emotional mess. You're hiding pieces of yourself from the world. You're afraid of being vulnerable. But, the ironic thing is, you can never connect unless you're vulnerable.
Think of the people you have the deepest connections with. I bet you've seen them cry. I bet they've let it all fall apart in front of your eyes. I bet they've offered a raw vulnerability that shook you and made you love them more
When we can take down the walls, speak our truth, and let people hold us in those sacred moments....that's where we find peace. That raw connection is what all of us desire.
We've just been mislead to believe that in order for people to LIKE us, we need to meet certain criteria. But, there's a difference between LIKE and LOVE. There's a difference between admiration and acceptance. There's a difference between love and unconditional love.
And the people that matter MOST to you, the people that light up your soul, YOUR PEOPLE...will love you no matter what.
4) How can I celebrate myself more?
If by now you're saying "Yikes....I think I might be a little bit of a perfectionist..." you more than likely have a totally relentless inner-critic running the conversation in your head all day long.
The negative thought loop of "I can't believe you did that." "When are you ever going to get this right?" "You'll never be as good as they are." It's incessant. Sometimes we don't even notice it, but it's running our thoughts, emotions, and life.
If this sounds like you, I want you to get super clear on the thoughts you're inner critic says to you on a regular basis. Then, take those thoughts, and put them on trial. Are they true? Would God himself deem them as true? Is it proven you're unlovable/unworthy?
I'm guessing HELL NO.
So, write down those thoughts. Then rip them up. Then write down new, empowering thoughts about yourself and practice thinking them. Every single day. And when you catch yourself slipping back into that negative chatter...bring yourself back to your TRUE thoughts about yourself.
I am a beautiful, vibrant, and capable woman.
I have everything I need to thrive in life.
I am doing my best and things are working out for me.
Find whatever thoughts get your mojo pumping full of goodness.
5) How can I switch my fear to love?
At the end of the day, your fuel to be perfect and get it right is super fricken' powerful. Your strength, drive, and courage for greatness is an awesome resource. So, instead of letting it burn out, how can you change the direction of your fire?
Instead of coming at this life-thing from a fear-based place of wanting to fit in and be accepted....what is you came at it from LOVE? What if you decided that you were already worthy? What if you decided that the hunger you have can be used to fuel your dreams and serve the world?
Play around in that idea. Because that is where greatness is born.