Tag Archives: perfectionism

Embrace the Beauty of Your Darkness

“The wound is the place where the light comes in” – Rumi

What to do when you’re not the happiest person you know? What about when you’re depressed, fearful, anxious, jealous, greedy or angry?

Yesterday, I was working with a client who appears to be a huge success in the outer world. She’s a coach and inspirational speaker. She jaunts around the country inspiring hundreds of people, has a strong, supportive, sexy relationship with a gorgeous man and frequently gets paid to travel to exotic locations to lead corporate retreats. Her family is loving and close. She has an enviable following on social media and garners lots of press and media coverage.

Inside…she’s shaken and feels like a fraud. She carries over $20,000 in credit card debt and has little savings or retirement fund. Her financial house is weak and therefore her confidence wavers. She’s constantly comparing herself to colleagues and can never live up to her own perfectionism.

This is her “Shadow”.

The shadow, a concept brought to light by famed Swiss psychologist Carl Jung – is the part of ourselves we don’t want to look at – qualities we deem unattractive, try to push away, overlook, sugarcoat or hide under the surface.

In the spiritual and yoga communities, the emphasis is often on positivity. Sometimes called spiritual bypassing – this is the tendency is to overlook or minimize our very real human flaws. We are encouraged to “meditate our way out of” difficult emotions or habits. The focus is on getting better, being happier, moving up and out of our current circumstance toward enlightenment, miracles, or bliss.

Moving forward is important, but we also need to honor the beauty of our darkness and not pathologize the troubling aspects of Self that may be holding us back. Taking the time to recognize the beauty of darkness allows for integration and reconciliation. We train our psyche to “own” those cut-off pieces of ourselves that we’d rather tuck away in a back closet. Instead of slapping a smile on and sitting in blissful (strained) silence – we learn to proudly integrate all the good, bad, and ugly parts of who we are.

Shadow Work: The ‘Fuck You’ Letter

“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” ~ Carl Jung

The quickest way to see your shadow is to notice what qualities you tend to criticize or gossip about in other people. Look carefully as these aren’t necessarily “bad” qualities, but often masquerade as traits that society applauds such as the tendency to overachieve, project positivity or be a “Supermom”.

Once you recognize the qualities you criticize in others, flip it to see how they show up in you.

While my client exuded an outer confidence and success, inwardly she was ashamed and confused by her finances. She was in denial. To bolster her wavering confidence, she criticized friends and colleagues for being materialistic and shallow. It took her years to acknowledge the sobering reality of her financial disillusionment and irresponsible spending.

A great way to start to own these qualities in yourself is to write a “Fuck You” letter. If you have someone you’re angry at or harboring resentment towards, write a letter addressed to this person and tell them what pisses you off and why.

“Dear ….., 
Fuck you for…..
Fuck you for….” 

Be as specific, graphic and thorough as possible. List out the exact qualities or incidents that irritate you.

[Caveat: This language is strong. I have found that it is useful to get this raw to access the primal, emotional core that is hurt or afraid. If you resist writing such a strong letter to someone you love (your lover, parent or child) – know that this is only 1 voice of your psyche – not the whole story, but one that needs to be heard.]

Once the letter is complete, go back to the beginning and replace their name with your name. As you read through your letter recognize where these qualities show up in yourself, even if to a lesser degree. For example, how have you abandoned, betrayed, or criticized yourself?

Practice Radical Self Forgiveness

Once you identify your shadow, you can move from judgment to understanding by practicing forgiving yourself. Allow yourself to be human and experience the full spectrum of emotions.

In yoga and Buddhism, this is known as karuna or compassion and is the foundation of self love and freedom. Soften your perception. Breathe deeply into the sides of your heart to expand. Consider how such unsavory traits were necessary in the past as a coping or defensive mechanism. Be kind and generous of Spirit.

Compassion for yourself blossoms, breeding compassion for others. Everyone wins.

Only when my client released her perfectionism and forgave herself could she turn her full attention to cleaning up her financial house. She was no longer at war within. She got honest with her boyfriend about her credit card debt and quit feeling like a fraud. The bridge between our inner and outer worlds leads to an unshakeable confidence. We actually like who we are when we know we can trust ourselves to keep it real.

Nurture Yourself 

Nurture yourself as you begin to uncover your shadow and open up. Give yourself permission to process emotions freely. You may notice that it gets harder before it gets easier. You are bringing up unprocessed, repressed material. As your shadow rises, cumulative feelings of shame, sadness, anger, and frustration may surface.

The irony (and beauty) is – you can turn this energy into fuel to fire for your passion and creativity. The energy you used to hold up a false self or hide out is now available to redirect.

Our vulnerability is the tender place where we have the most opportunity to crack open and experience deep unconditional love and authentic connection.

What are your shadow qualities? Please leave a comment below with a few of the shadow qualities you’ve identified.

Mine:

  • being late
  • being competitive and jealous
  • perfectionism leading to procrastination that holds me (and those around me) prisoner
photo by: Hamed Saber

Confessions of a Recovering Perfectionist – Top 10 Reasons to Chill Out

Not That PerfectionistIt was the end of a typical weekday at my house: a moving and shaking day at the office, home for some giggles and play with my young daughters, dinner, baths and bed. Finally, I get some time to myself – hooray! Out of the corner of my eye, I spot a massive pile of clean laundry that has been waiting to be put away for a whole week now. Momentarily, I consider putting it away, but … naah! Instead, I decide to grab my laptop, prop my feet up and work on some writing. I giggled to myself realizing that previously in my life I would have never been able to do that. That tiny bit of clutter would have gnawed away at me, making me super-uneasy and totally unable to relax in-the-moment.

You see, I am a recovering perfectionist. And, boy, I had it bad! Aside from my obsession with cleanliness and everything in its place, I would usually have multiple projects going on at any given point in time, agonizing over every detail, which, of course, needed to be executed juuuust right. Upon completion I would say in one long breath, “Woo-hoo, that was great, finally did it, okay, what’s next?” I used to pour over blog posts editing and re-editing them in the quest for perfect arrangement of the exact right words until they were finally worthy to be released (maybe). I used to work out 6 or 7 days a week and it would take an act of God for me to actually skip a workout!

For years, I would brush my neurosis off as, “I am just built that way. It’s in my DNA.” And, to some extent, this is true. I have a lot of passion and energy eager to pour out. But, what is different these days is my self-talk around this energy. The story I tell myself. I am enough, already. I still have high ambition and put tremendous amounts of love in what I do, but I give myself a break. I have loosened my grasp on expected outcomes and value peace and harmony waaaay more than flawlessness.

So, what was the wake-up call that helped me make the switch from high-strung to mellowed-out? These are the top 10 realizations that I made about perfectionism that helped me along in my journey to become easy like Sunday morning:

  1. “Perfect” is an illusion. It’s striving for the impossible. Even if this high-level of excellence can be met in a particular moment, don’t blink because it is a fleeting ideal. Perfection has an insatiable appetite, and the constant expectation of it sets you up for a whole lot of disappointment, stress, and unhappiness. All the while, the fun of life whizzes right by.

  2. Perfectionism stifles creativity and blocks the birth of fresh ideas. Sometimes we just need to throw the paint on the canvas, allow the notes to be strummed, or let the words pour out. When you mix intense worry into the equation, self-confidence erodes and the artistic flow becomes suppressed. Is everything just right? How it will be perceived by others? This type of thinking takes us out of alignment with our creative source and smothers the flames of imagination into submission.

  3. The ever-present quest for perfection is merely a shield from vulnerability. When we do everything perfectly, then we cannot be judged or criticized. It’s an excuse not to be vulnerable. Just as staying busy in the process of constantly trying to achieve the unachievable is a good way to avoid having to look at and deal with our “stuff.” (And we all have “stuff”). Unfortunately, the only way to heal is to deal (as in facing things head on). The shielding of perfectionism is merely a coping mechanism, which works temporarily, but meanwhile, whatever we’re suppressing only continues to gain more power over us.

  4. Vulnerability shielding inhibits connection. For me, I realized that if I really wanted to be a great writer, coach, mother, and friend who really connects with others then I’d have no other choice but to let down my shield and allow my authentic self to be fully exposed. This means being perfectly imperfect at times, owning it, and granting others permission to do the same.

  5. There is a big difference between striving for excellence and perfectionism. It’s called actually enjoying what you are doing! It’s okay (great, even) to have high aspirations. Shoot for the stars. Go nuts! But, go easy on yourself along the way. Enjoy the journey. Don’t get so tripped up in the outcome that it sucks every ounce of joy out of the process

  6. Perfection is to life what those plastic covers are too a really nice sofa.  Sure, it keeps the dirt off, but what’s the point?? The guitar whose notes are strum slightly off at times is better than the untouched guitar collecting dust on the wall. The laughed in, played in, loved in, house is better than the spotlessly clean one where you can eat off the kitchen floor. The published, yet slightly imperfect, blog or book that allows somebody else to have an “a-ha” moment or inspiration is way better than the “almost perfect” one that is still hiding away, never to be experienced by another soul. Don’t miss the point of life in pursuit of way-too-high standards.

  7. Self-worth is not determined by any outward measurement. This goes for any number on a scale, how clean the house is, how many feathers are in our cap, etc. It’s what’s on the inside that matters most. And, it starts with loving self-talk, not the “I’m not good enough’s” associated with striving for perfect.

  8. It’s even scarier. Yes, it can be scary sharing your passion with the world (whatever the medium). But, what’s even scarier is not sharing your passion with the world because you felt it didn’t meet your own ridiculously high standards. The reality is that nobody’s opinion of your work is going to be quite as critical as your own, anyway. And, even if it is. So what? It’s just somebody else’s opinion. Be passionate, create, love, share — this is living!

  9. Because what perfectionism really is: Throwing an amazing party and forgetting to have a good time because you are worried about some silly little details that nobody else even noticed or actually cares about! (Yes, I might have actually done this before *whistles*).

  10. Perfectionist parents create perfectionist kids. And, I want my girls to grow up knowing unconditional self-love, acceptance of what it is, and enjoyment of life. ‘Nuff said.

Perfectionism is a way of closing off and controlling things. It may look pretty on the outside but in reality it’s cold, isolated and dark. It’s the cracks that let the light in, anyway. So, go on and ease up a bit. Let some light in and shine on!

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Giving Voice To My Fears Helped Me Find Empowerment

urlOne day in the not-so-distant past, like within the last month, I had a rare moment of complete clarity around my fears. Usually, when I’m wanting to unearth such things, it takes hours of work, awareness, and meditation. But this was different. All of the sudden, I just had a vivid moment of clarity. They all came to me. At once. Naked. I grabbed a pen and started writing.

1. Parent guilt: I am afraid I do not create space for, or dedicate enough of myself to quality time with my children. I am afraid I allow them too much screen time.
2. Spouse guilt: I am fearful that I am not pulling my weight financially or responsibility wise. I am concerned that I might not be doing enough work to keep the workloads fair between us.
3. Fear of finances: I am worried I will never make enough money to pay the bills and/or accumulate savings.
4. Fear of aging: I am terrified of weight gain, wrinkles, hair in unwanted places… I am concerned that I will become less and less attractive over time.
5. Charlatan fear: I am petrified that I am full of conflicts. I am frightened that I may not be disciplined enough.
6. Fear of insignificance: I am astounded by the grandeur of my dreams. I question my worthiness of such lofty goals that are in line with the great people on the scene like Brene Brown and Jennifer Pastiloff.
7. Fear of not “doing” enough: I am anxious that I am not planning enough workshops, applying to enough conferences and/or retreats.
8. Fear of being a bad friend: I am ill at ease around the decline of the welfare of some of my friendships.

Once I captured all of these, I felt somehow relieved. And then, I had to, absolutely had no choice but to write on the opposite page, the left hand side, I had to write more words of which I did not even understand their origin…

Relax, it’s all OK.
Trust yourself.
Be in love, of love.
Stay connected to your magnificence.
Believe — it is exactly as it should be.
Connection = Joy
You are enough.
Riches come in all forms.

I look back at my journal and read these words. I realize, they came through me, not of me. They were not words I concentrated on or carefully chose. My pen flew across the page, the words pouring forth. I could not have stopped them had I tried, which I most certainly did not.

With regards to my fears — What I realized is that these are the ways in which I expect to be perfect. I expect to be the perfect parent, spouse, forever youthful breadwinner, infinitely important and perpetually wise and kind. In reality, I am not perfect. I do have some perfections, but I also have many imperfections. We all do. And in truth, I am doing the best I can daily.

I drew comfort from these words which transpired during a recent discussion between Oprah Winfrey and Brene Brown on Super Soul Sunday on March 17th.

O: “Perfectionism is walking around projecting the facade that everything is perfect — clothes, car, relationships, family but really, we are slaving to the ultimate fear that people are going to see us for who we really are and think that we won’t measure up to our desired image.”
B: “We think of it as a 20 ton shield protecting us from being hurt, but really, it protects us from being seen.”
O: “It’s kind of sad. Perfectionists are striving for a world that doesn’t exist. It’s attempting to be beyond judgment. But really, there’s no such thing.”

So what is the answer? According to Brene Brown and her 12 years of accumulating scientific research on shame, vulnerability and courage, “The cultivation of gratitude and joy is the way home.” She goes on to say that, “The most terrifying, difficult emotion that we as humans experience is Joy. Not shame, humiliation, fear. Joy. When we lose our tolerance for vulnerability, joy becomes foreboding. [We say to ourselves] I’m not going to soften into this moment of joy. I’m going to beat vulnerability to the punch. We try to dress rehearse tragedy so we can beat vulnerability to the punch.”

What if instead of slaving to our fears, allowing them to remain silent and hidden, what if we acknowledged them and voiced them? When you voice something, it begins to lose it’s power over you. And who wants their fears to have power over them anyway? I’m comfortable wagering a guess that the answer is no one. None of us want to be ruled by our fears. So how about it? What are you afraid of? And how does perfectionism play a part? How about freeing yourself right now?

6-year-old Boy Declares the Word “Perfect” to Be Extinct

By Jennifer Pastiloff

“Mom, why isn’t the word ‘perfect’ extinct since nothing is perfect?”
Will Sherwood, age six

Perfect (adj.): being entirely without fault or defect : flawless <a perfect diamond>

I was teaching yoga to my private client, and I told her that her body was perfect.

She then told me something that her six-year-old son Will said, and I realized the error of my ways.

It is brilliant, and I will now borrow it and use it in class. Quoting Sir Will, of course.

He’s just learned the word “extinct” at school. He comes in and says, “Mom, why isn’t the word ‘perfect’ extinct since nothing is perfect?”

My point exactly, Will! Why hadn’t I said this yet? (Because often six year olds are smarter, more observant, and more honest.)

He made this deduction himself after the constant reminder from his mom that no one is perfect.

As I often say in class: Perfect people are boring people.

I even said it on Good Morning America! (Aren’t they though?)

All jokes aside, at some point I forgave myself for not being perfect. For many years, I struggled with an eating disorder and the feeling that I had to be/look perfect. This nearly killed me, in many ways. I still struggle with this in times of stress, if I am being one hundred percent honest, which I am committed to being. But it’s a silly notion, this extinct idea of striving for perfection, isn’t it?

I am now committing to not being perfect. Because of this commitment, I made my new tagline:

There is no getting it Right, there’s just getting it Awesome.

Conforming absolutely? Ick. Who wants that?

Excellent beyond improvement? Blergh. Yawn.

To be clear, we are perfect. Perfectly imperfect.

Here are some examples of being perfectly imperfect: I can’t hear well so I wear hearing aids. My nephew has Prader Willi Syndrome and Autism, and he is perfect as he is. My friend Emily has one leg. I never booked a job when I was pursuing an acting career. I am extremely disorganized and quite messy.

It’s this idea of perfection as something outside of ourselves; as something better than ourselves; as something someone else has decided. The idea of perfect as something unattainable.

I believe it is most certainly inside each and every one of us already. Let’s unite and give up this notion that it isn’t! Let’s take a stand!

A child’s laugh is perfect. A sunset blue and purple as a bruise is perfect. A good cup of coffee or glass of Cabernet can damn well be perfect.

Check out this poster one of my dearest friends Karen Salmansohn made:

In the comments section, please answer: Where in your own life can you stop trying to be perfect?

I will start. I can stop trying to be perfect when it comes to yoga poses. I cannot press up into a handstand in the center of the room, yet I am a successful yoga teacher. When I do certain poses I feel like a beginner. It’s okay. I am still a damn good teacher!

I can also stop trying to be perfect when it comes to comparing myself to women my age who are pregnant or already have kids, and I haven’t even begun to try. I can stop worrying and trust in divine timing. If it is meant for me, I will make it happen. I am exactly where I am meant to be.

Know this: I support you in your perfect imperfectness. At the core of us, at the root of us, at the very base and also the very highest, we are perfect. And that can never be changed. It is NOT outside of us. Not now. Not ever.


Jennifer Pastiloff was recently featured on Good Morning America. She is a yoga teacher, writer, and advocate for children with special needs based in L.A. She is also the creator of Manifestation Yoga® and leads retreats and workshops all over the world. Jennifer is currently writing a book and has a popular daily blog called Manifestation Station. Find her on Facebook and Twitter and take one of her yoga classes online at Yogis Anonymous.

Jen will be leading a Manifestation Yoga® weekend retreat at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in the Berkshires, Massachusetts Feb 1-3, 2013.

Why ‘Good Enough’ Never Is

Last week’s post focused on impeccability as a possible key to integrity. Raising the question of impeccability coupled with having quoted a reader who found inspiration from Carlos Castaneda on the subject seemed to inspire many while riling the sensibilities of others.

Some took inspiration from the aspirational focus of living to a higher standard, while others trashed the idea as impossible (given the implied notion of impeccable as perfect). Fortunately, this turns out to be another one of those cases where "you’re both right." Kind of. 

Kind of like one of my favorite quotes from Mark: "All generalizations are false, including this one."

 

Indeed, perfection is unlikely to be achieved on this planet, and yet striving for impeccability just might be worth the effort. As Dylene wrote to me in an email following last week’s article:

Several things came up for me around this great blog, and will most likely continue to do so. Impeccability is a goal for me in my work and my life. While I can’t pretend I always attain it, the standard is a good one for me personally.



  • Commitment to deadlines: This has created a more healthy dynamic in my life–in working hard to under-promise and over deliver, I am conscious of the commitments I make nowadays–it wasn’t always true. It helps me keep my work impeccable.
  •  

     

  • In the example in your blog of the appointment and searching for a reason to cancel: the times I have done this, it’s because I agreed to something that didn’t engage my passion. I’m a little more selective now about where I choose to spend my life, and that has increased the quality of my contribution to the places I do attend now. It makes it easier to be impeccable.

 

You can agree or disagree with Dylene and her approach. You can dismiss her approach to impeccability for any number of reasons. However, if you’re Dylene, you have made a choice (striving for impeccability) that has enriched your life, and, most likely, the lives of those with whom you interact.

If you keep playing with this for a bit, you may wind up at a collision point in your thinking: on the one hand, pursuing perfection can lead to perfection paralysis. If the goal is perfection, there will always be one more iteration, one more improvement, one more change that will help move things along. However, moving things along is motion, not perfection.

On the other hand, if you abandon the pursuit of perfection, you may then wind up settling for "good enough." What’s good enough? Is there a standard by which "good enough" could be determined? One person’s good enough could well be another person’s abject failure.

There is a classic story of Debbie Fields, founder of Mrs. Fields Cookies, who early on found herself on a visit to one of the first stores in her chain. Apparently, she was fond of saying something to the effect that you should set your standards so high that even your flaws are considered excellent.

On a surprise visit to the store in question, she came upon a long line of customers waiting for her freshly baked cookies. However, she also noticed the cookies that were coming out of the ovens were overcooked by her standards.

When she asked the manager to taste them before serving, he replied that they were "good enough." Legend has it that having more than a little pride in her products and her name, she replied "Good enough never is."

Debbie apparently took the whole batch and tossed them in the trash and told him to start over. She then went to each of the customers in line, explaining what she had done and why. She let them know that she wanted them to enjoy perfect cookies and offered them free product when it came back up.

Of course, Debbie Fields was acutely aware of the phenomenon, "you-never-get a-second-chance-to-make-a-first-impression" and just how competitive the industry already was. She did not want to risk her brand image with product she considered inferior.

And so "Good enough never is" became the watch word for Mrs. Fields Cookies. Eventually, this lead to a series of standards about cookies including how long they could sit on shelves before being declared "cookie orphans" and donated to local charities…

CONTINUE READING AT HUFFINGTON POST!  

Photo: CC Flickr//scubadive67

Can Your Perfectionism Kill You?

 Well, yes and no. 

According to a new study published by LiveScience.com (via MSNBC), perfectionism is good for people who are already diagnosed with diseases that require vigorous health regiments but is terrible for all us people who just stress about everything be juuuust so.

When [Trinity Western University psychology professor Prem] Fry and her colleagues examined the relationship between perfectionism and the risk of death, they found that those with high perfectionism scores ran a 51% increased risk of earlier death as compared to volunteers who had low perfectionism scores. The researchers theorize that high levels of anxiety and stress – common in perfectionists –  may contribute to a reduced lifespan. 

While the researchers wondered whether striving to be perfect could impact negatively on those with a chronic disease, the opposite turned out to be true. In one study of patients with Type 2 diabetes, those with high perfectionism scores had a 26% lower risk of death than those who scored low. 



The study demonstrated that perfectionism does have advantages. Paying attention to blood sugar levels and following a strict diet can help type 2 diabetics reduce the severity of the disease, for instance. For the diabetics who worked harder than the average person to follow their doctor’s orders, perfectionism was a positive trait, the researchers found. “So they ended up taking better care of themselves through self-management than people who were sort of more easygoing and lax,” Fry told LiveScience.com.



But no matter how perfect a perfectionist may be, they may not be happy with the results.  “(Perfectionists” are very self-critical, they are not satisfied ever with their performance,” Fry told LiveScience.com.

NY Daily News

It makes sense when you think about how stressful it is trying to make everything "perfect" and just what stress can do to one’s body. Stress has been known to cause heart attacks and strokes due to higher blood pressure and glucose levels, as well as plenty of other issues including headaches, back pain, anxiety and depression which can all lead to even bigger problems.

Getting a little nervous because you’re a perfectionist? 

(If you’re not sure, don’t worry, Discovery Health has a test for you!)

It’s okay, many of us have a certain degree of perfectionism in our lives- whether it’s our diet, our relationships or our work- and you can always work towards chilling out! 

Check out these articles from Intent Voices:

What Is The History Of Your Perfectionism? by Pavel Somov

Why Are You So Hard On Yourself? by Eli Davidson

How To Stop Being So Hard On Yourself by Eli Davidson

And check out Pavel’s book on the subject, Present Perfect: A Mindfulness Approach to Letting Go of Perfectionism and the Need for Control

Photo (CC): flickr//Stitch

Perfection: Aristotle versus Buddha

“The Buddha lived in India five centuries before Jesus and almost two centuries before Aristotle.  The first step in his belief system was to break through the black-and-white world of words, pierce the bivalent veil and see the world as it is, see it filled with “contradictions,’ with things and not-things, with roses that are both red and not-red, with A and not-A.  You find this […] theme in Eastern belief systems old and new, from Lao-tze’s Taoism to the modern Zen in Japan.  Either-or versus contradictionA or not-A versus A and not-A.   Aristotle versus the Buddha.” (B. Kosko)

Seeing yourself as either perfect or imperfect is black-and-white thinking.  Time to update your understanding of perfection from the standard Western, psychologically toxic, dualistic view of perfection to a more self-accepting, psychologically healthier, nondual view of perfection: you are neither perfect nor imperfect or, if you prefer, you are perfectly imperfect.  Same thingless thing!

Perfectionism suffers from Aristotelian dichotomies and bivalences: it cuts life in half, into “what is” and “what should be,” into “perfect” and “imperfect,” into “actual” and “ideal.”  A perfectionistic mind is sore with the either/or self-fragmentation.   Time to learn to accept your whole self in its existential continuity.   In other words, time to stop falling onto this Aristotelian sword of black-and-white self-judgment.  

Yes, you are doing the best that you can at any given point in time and you can still do better.   Time to perfect perfection!

Resources:

Self-Acceptance Manifesto

A Vibe of Ordinary Perfection

The human body is a “treasure-trove” of vibrations (1).   “After all, our hearts beat, our lungs oscillate, we shiver when we are cold, we sometimes snore, we can hear and speak because our eardrums and larynges vibrate.  The light waves which permit us to see entail vibration.  We move by oscillating our legs.  We cannot even say “vibration” properly without the tip of the tongue oscillating… Even the atoms of which we are constituted vibrate.” (2).

In sum: no vibration, no communication.

But what is vibration?  Vibration is a function of periodicity, a result of “a pattern […] that repeats itself over and over again.” (1). 

As I look back at the periodicity of my own thoughts over the last five or so years, I see one and the same mind-pattern, the idea of “ordinary perfection,” the realization that perfection is not only attainable but is inevitable, the compassionate realization that everyone (without exception!) is doing the best that they can at any given point in time.  This line of thought has been both personally sobering and professionally catalytic.  If a human mind is a lake of consciousness, I’ve been busy skipping thoughts of “ordinary perfection” one after another, like pebbles, trying to start up a rippling brainstorm of self-acceptance.   

Today, June 3, 2010, thanks to New Harbinger Publications, my opus-to-date, Present Perfect, is finally out.  This private vibe of “ordinary perfection” is finally made public.  I feel a great sense of relief.  This strange meme that “perfection is not only attainable but is inevitable” has to no longer depend on the vibrations of my larynx.  I can now shut up for a while and let the word-pebbles of the book ruffle up the placid lake of cultural consciousness.

Vibe’s finally on it’s own.  I hope to see you on the other side of this ripple effect.

Be well.

Resources:

Meme

Perfection

Self-Acceptance Manifesto

References:

Vibrations and Waves, A.P. French

Vibration, R. E. D. Bishop

How to Stop Being So Hard on Yourself

 Why are you so hard on yourself? Over the last two weeks I’ve been exploring this.

What can you do about it? A lot.

The opposite of Perfectionitis is what researchers call "healthy striving." Studies show that healthy strivers set realistic goals that are the natural next step from where they are now. You can too! Go ahead and way you can work smarter, not harder.

Not only that. You get to acknowledge yourself for completing each step along the way. That adds up to a lot of positive internal reinforcement. The more often you declare something done and done well, the more you build your self-image as someone savvy and successful. And that feels great. Instead of rewarding yourself only when you reach the mondo outcome, you savor the delights of the journey. Since it’s a pretty fab expedition, you take the flubs and toe stubs into account as part of the adventure.

Stop "Shoulding" On Yourself

Healthy striving goes along with healthy self-esteem. And when your self-esteem is alive and well, you tend to live from the inside out. You "pick a game you can win," as my friend Kathryn Allen says. You go for things that have juice for you inside and are attainable outside. You pay attention to the smarts inside of you. You let go of the "shoulds" and let the dreams of your heart have a say. When you do, you can’t help but take better care of you. And, miracle of miracles, you cut yourself some slack and others too.

Contentment can’t tell the difference between a Cadillac and a Camry.

Sounds like the perfect way to live? Are you beating yourself up because these three paragraphs don’t seem to describe you? Watch out. Perfectionitis may be infecting the way you read this. It’s easy to be a perfectionist about not having Perfectionitis! But there’s an antidote. Read on.

The good news is that no one is unblemished. As far as I can tell, there isn’t a single perfect person on the planet. Everyone has zits or cellulite or both. Everyone gets angry and disappointed. There isn’t a person around that doesn’t have some weird quirk or secret they’d probably prefer to keep to themselves. Hallelujah! Those vulnerabilities make each of us unique and even more lovable.

There are no perfect people. Everyone has zits or cellulite or both.

Eli Davidson

Who would want to live in a world of Stepford Wives? Not me. So why not give yourself a little break today? Let whatever isn’t as good as you want it to be, be okay. Take a few minutes to let yourself just be. Be fab. Just as you are.dream big. Then lay out a set of reasonable steps that

Treatment: The Get a Life Game

Now it’s time to kick off your Perfectionitis treatment plan. 

Pick one or two of the the following items. Do it for three days and watch yourPerfectionitis.subside.

Please don’t try to do this perfectly … small steps are the surest way to succeed.

1. Center Yourself. Take in three deep breaths of tenderness. Let out three deep breaths of fatigue. Brava! You just took a step toward replenishing yourself. Way to go!

2. Ask for the Greater Good. As Mayor, take a moment and claim your office, and ask that your choices that are aligned with the highest good for all concerned.

3. Set Your Intention. Set the intention to be gentle with yourself and to honor all of you.

4. Just Say No. Take a look at what’s on your schedule. Write down what you plan to get done today. How much time have you marked out for each item? Double it. Stuff takes longer than you think. What items on your list need to be removed? Say no to those tasks and renegotiate their timeline. Dr. Andrew Jacobs, one of the country’s top sports psychologists, has helped many champions cultivate the mental attitudes that make them winners. He suggests to clients, "Learn to say no. Learn to let go."

5. Get Real. That’s not all. Where is your You Time? If you don’t schedule in time for yourself, who will? As Mayor, plan a recess break of at least 15 minutes. And make sure you keep it.

6. Get Really Real. Take a peep at your To Do List. Are your goals realistic? Or would you need to clone yourself to get everything done? Take a tip from my friend David Allen. Make a Maybe Someday List of those items you’d like to get to but can’t at the moment. Check your Maybe Someday List weekly to see if the status has changed. 



7. Get Really, Really Real
. Stop being the Lone Ranger. Pick up the phone. Ask for help or advice. You probably have a pal who excels in an area that isn’t your best. 



8. Keep It Real.
 Sharing support is a sure sign of being in Perfectionitis recovery. There is nothing like pairing up with somebody to help you get real. Check in with each other. Having a buddy will help you to keep your commitment to take care of you while setting more realistic goals.



9. Praise and Prize.
 Congratulate yourself often. Even for the silly little things. " Boy, what a good job of flossing I did today." "Bravo, that was a superb meal I prepared for the cat." The more you praise yourself, the less you will be driven to seek praise from others.

10. Thank Yourself. Thank yourself for making any fabulous choice to take back your life.

What have you done to stop being hard on yourself? Please share your tips and tricks with us!

* Excerpted from Funky to Fabulous: Surefire Success Stories for The Savvy, Sassy

and Swamped
 (Oak Grove Press) with permission.

You can receive notice of my blogs by checking Become a Fan at the top. Ask Eli a question atinfo@elidavidson.com or go to www.elidavidson.com today.

Eli Davidson is a nationally recognized motivational speaker and executive coach. Her book, Funky to Fabulous: Surefire Success Stories for the Savvy, Sassy and Swamped, (Oak Grove Publishing) has won three national book awards. Eli is a reinvention catalyst, who can transform your professional and personal life from Funky to Fabulous with her 10 trademarked Turnaround Techniques that create rapid and remarkable results. Check out her blog athttp://funkytofabulous.blogspot.com/

 

Why Are You So Hard On Yourself?

 The results of last week’s quiz showed that just about everyone has a case of Perfectionitis. Fellow Huffington Post blogger, Dr. Cara Barker did a 10 year study on this challenge. Her work entitled, World Weary Woman: Her Wound and Transformation came to the same conclusion. Here is what we found: There are not a lot of people who are living in healthy self-acceptance. The culture just doesn’t support it.

The Bra and Pantyhose Problem

If you are a working woman, you are likely to have the added pressure of managing both work and home life. If you are an entrepreneur, you are trying to do everything. If you are a woman working in a corporate environment you may have to work harder than the men to prove yourself. Sorry guys this is an ailment that is more prevalent in women. Basically, if you own a bra and have ever worn pantyhose, my money is on the table that you have a touch of the old Perfectionitis bug.

Our society, founded on the Protestant work ethic, seems to think the Impossible Workload is just peachy keen and even necessary for success. People get more strokes for achievement than for being happy, so they willingly take on what is in fact a toxic work schedule. Magazines are full of stories of uber women who cook as well as Martha Stewart, are as slim as Kate Moss, run an empire like Oprah, and claim to have a dreamy marriage, all on three hours of sleep a night.

Pop quiz: Is it better to be successful or happy?

News journals sing the praises of executives who hardly rest like they’re a new, improved breed of capitalist warrior, above and beyond the mere mortal who needs a daily eight hours of shut-eye and eight glasses of water. "Extreme Jobs (and the People Who Love Them). 80-Hour Weeks? Endless Travel? High Stress? Bring It On!" was the cover caption on an edition of Fast Company magazine. Next to the article was a cartoon of a woman holding a cell phone: "I Have No Life . . . and I Love It!" Boy, she sure needs an anti Perfectionitis prescription!

Lydia’s Story

More and more companies are demanding insane work loads as a norm. A member of an audience of women executives drove the point home dramatically. Lydia is a slim, vibrant brunette with bright eyes. A partner in a large law firm, she was about to retire. "In the late 70s and early 80s the hours I put in made me look like one of the hardest-working people in the firm. If I worked those same hours as a young lawyer who had just joined the firm today, I would be fired as a slacker." Her voice lowered as she continued. "My daughter is a young attorney who is trying to become a partner at a law office in New York City. She works such long hours that the stores are closed by the time she goes home. Sometimes she just doesn’t have the time to go buy toilet paper, so she steals some to take home from the firm’s supply."

Etiology: How the Heck Does It Happen?

Two things come together to bring on a bout of Perfectionitis: a culture that values high performance above everything else, and a person with low self-esteem who has assimilated those values and is motivated to try to live up to them. When somewhere inside you believe you are unworthy, inadequate, or incompetent, it’s easy to start living from the outside in. You do things to get approval from others–the culture, your boss, family, teacher, colleagues, or children–instead of doing what is a healthy choice for you.

As a kid it is easy to equate being good with being loved. Your good manners get applauded. The bad ones are punished. As time goes on, your value as a person may seem to be based on how you perform. In some families there is even the message that if you don’t excel at school, sports, or socially, you are a big failure. Behavior, then, appears to be a magic wand. It has the power to get you more love. How intoxicating! It casts its spell time and time again.

If you were like me growing up, you thought, "Boy, I want to be loved all of the time, but I can’t be good all of the time. I can only be good some of the time. If I can’t be good all the time, I must be bad inside. That means I have to work extra hard to do things really, really, really well."

Like so many other women, you become a champion self-nitpicker. You chide yourself about your weight, your career, your woefully single status. *

Bottom Line:

Self-criticism is a convoluted defense mechanism: "If I am hard on myself, then other people won’t have to be."



Pop Quiz Answer: Happy= Successful

* Excerpted from Funky to Fabulous: Surefire Success Stories for The Savvy, Sassy

and Swamped
 (Oak Grove Press) with permission.

You can receive notice of my blogs by checking Become a Fan at the top. Ask Eli a question atinfo@elidavidson.com or go to www.elidavidson.com today.

Eli Davidson is a nationally recognized motivational speaker and executive coach. Her book, Funky to Fabulous: Surefire Success Stories for the Savvy, Sassy and Swamped, (Oak Grove Publishing) has won three national book awards. Eli is a reinvention catalyst, who can transform your professional and personal life from Funky to Fabulous with her 10 trademarked Turnaround Techniques that create rapid and remarkable results. Check out her blog athttp://funkytofabulous.blogspot.com/

 

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