A friend once told me that following a session with a divorce counselor, she was told to make a list of all the things she felt made her a good wife and mother. She began to write these “rules” and discovered she had over 120 of them. It was no wonder she felt less than! Who could possibly live up to this incredibly hard standard she set for herself?
If you were to write down all the rules you have for yourself, could you live up to them? What happens if you don’t? Take a minute to think about what it is you tell yourself about what it means to be a good spouse/partner. How about what it means to be a good parent (whether or not you are one). What does it mean to be a good employee or boss? A good person?
When you fall short, what do you say to yourself? What actions do you take in response to that self-talk?
The Trap and Cycle of Perfectionism
Learning that we are not perfect seems silly in a sense – after all, we intellectually know we aren’t perfect. We make mistakes, we know that. But what we can’t seem to grasp as easily is meeting ourselves with grace and love when we fail to meet our own high expectations.
We seem quick to bash, evaluate, judge and put ourselves down for the same mistakes that we offer compassion to when they happen to others. Or, maybe we are even in a place where we find it difficult to offer love and grace to others – especially our own family members and loved ones – those closest to us. Ouch! This then creates a cycle of more self-loathing and tighter control on our perfectionism.
Instead of repeating this cycle again and again, we need to find a way to interrupt the pattern and then respond differently. We need to learn to give ourselves radical self-love. Here are some tips:
- Take a breath. When you feel yourself become upset over unmet expectations, take a deep breath before going into anger, negative self-talk or other self-injurious behaviors.
- See yourself as a beloved child. Take a moment to visualize yourself as a child who you love. This can be your “inner child” or an actual child in your life. Consider what response you would give to them out of love and offer that same response to yourself.
- Take it easy. Often below perfectionism is the need for control. Working with a trusted counselor, guide, or self-care practice, you may begin to delve into this and release whatever is keeping you from your true joy. There you will discover you are flawed and still worthy!
In my book “Flawed and (Still) Worthy”, I share my personal story of struggle with perfectionism, disordered eating, and never feeling good enough. I also share how I came out of that toxic pattern, overcame the challenges that threatened to beat me, and built the life of my dreams. I hope it inspires you to find the beauty in your life and self as well. Find it in your favorite format on Amazon today.