Let me be honest right out of the gate: I consider myself to be a Recovering Perfectionist. I’m writing this post, as much for my own benefit, as for your’s. Truth is, if I really want to clear the mental clutter this summer, this is THE place I need to begin, and I suspect that many of you might have the same issue to deal with.
Do you remember those old cartoons where the main character has a little angel sitting on one shoulder and a little devil on the other, and he’s trying to decide who to listen to? Well, for me, that translates to my “Inner Zen” sitting on one shoulder (that’s the part of me that is peaceful, gentle and goes with the flow), and my “Inner Perfectionist” sitting on the other (the part of me that is demanding, controlling and critical). It seems like, at some point every day, I experience a tug of war between the two of them (and I probably don’t need to tell you which one usually wins!). It can be really exhausting.
Most women struggle with perfectionism and it’s the single most effective way to sabotage our success. We create an unattainable ideal and, when we can’t achieve that ideal, we feel guilty and ashamed. We believe we’re not good enough, smart enough, talented enough, disciplined enough...the list goes on and on. It can cause us to give up on things that we don't excel at, or to refrain from trying anything new. And that really saps the fun out of life.
This Inner Perfectionist is most vicious, when it comes to diet and exercise. She convinces us that if we don’t eat perfectly and exercise enough, our efforts are for naught and we might as well just give up.
“You had that piece of pound cake for breakfast? Well, today’s shot...you might as well eat whatever you like now!” she tells us - or - “You didn’t get up early to go to the gym this morning? Don’t bother to go for a walk at lunchtime. It’s too late.”
The fact is...SHE’S DEAD WRONG! The Inner Perfectionist lives in a world of extremes - things are either perfectly controlled, orderly and predictable, or they’re pure chaos. The problem with that mindset is that life is not an “all or nothing” experience. In fact, the really good stuff lies in between order and chaos. We have to give ourselves enough order to feel safe, yet enough chaos (I prefer to think of it as adventure ;) to feel creative and inspired. That means that some days, we’ll have pound cake for breakfast and, some days, we’ll skip the gym and sleep in. And that’s ok. We need to be gentler with ourselves. When we hear that old tape playing, we can simply turn it off and go right back to our healthy habits.
This week, I want you to notice when you are being critical and controlling with yourself. The minute that you hear your Inner Perfectionist begin her rant, tell her, “Thanks, but I got this one. I know that you mean well, but I’m taking a different approach, called REALITY. It’s time for you to move on now...” Then rock on in your own perfectly imperfect way!
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