3 Ways To Break Free Of Perfectionism

Worth reading – from Off the Web!

 “You’re imperfect and you’re wired for struggle but you are worthy of love and belonging.” ~Brene Brown

There’s nothing perfect about me, and I’m okay with that… now. This wasn’t the case for most of my life, though. In fact, I’ve been a perfectionist for almost thirty years. I’m not counting the first five years of my life when I was free to be as messy and magical as I wanted.

In third grade I asked my mom to buy me a stack of lined notebooks and colored pens. I spent hours neatly labeling each notebook by class, date, and assignment deadlines. If I made one mistake, like a jagged cursive letter or a misspelling, I’d rip out the page and begin again on a fresh sheet.

This was tiring but it was also a compulsion. Everything had to be neat and ordered or else—or else I’d be out of control, scared, and overwhelmed.

Before my parents divorced, they rarely fought, but my father’s frequent absences and his coolness toward my sister and me sparked a firestorm in me.

Expressing anger wasn’t a thing in our family, especially for women. That simply wasn’t Christian enough or loving enough or good enough.

So I denied my anger and my sadness and, most of all, my fear that my family was breaking apart and I couldn’t do anything to stop it.

Inside I burned like coals after a long night’s fire. I never let it get too hot. I played the good child, the loving daughter and sister, but my life was out of control. Thus began my long dance with perfectionism.

I tried to be a perfect girlfriend, perfect student, and perfect employee, all the while denying the expression of my full self, imperfections and all.

At parties, I perfected the art of banter and hosted like no one else. All was accounted for, each detail a way for me to control life.

I never realized that perfectionism was an attempt to avoid all rejection,                                       all criticism, and all failure.  It was a matter of life or death.

Perfectionism saved me from drowning, but it didn’t help me to swim. I was treading water, staying safe, and desperately trying to control my reality, which is never truly possible. What I realized later was at the heart of perfectionism is the desire for love and acceptance.

Life is a practice and when we practice we make mistakes. The desire for love and acceptance are universal desires. There is no shame in mistakes, just an opportunity to learn and to grow.

No matter the root causes of your perfectionism or your desire for it, know that it is a desire for love and acceptance and there is another path to get there. Maybe your family only showed you love and attention when you did everything right.

Maybe you feel the need to challenge yourself to be bigger and do better in your work and your relationships. This is not a bad thing. But there’s a difference between excellence and perfection.

The One Thing You Need to Know to Overcome Perfectionism –  Surrender

… to the moment, to change, to messiness or imperfection. Surrender is about accepting where we are at in any moment, knowing that we are a work in progress.

Excellence, unlike perfectionism, is about lovingly pushing ourselves to act, think, relate, and create from the highest part of ourselves.

Perfectionism is about trying to control the outcome in order to receive love and acceptance.  It’s all about fear.

Surrender gently tug us toward our own center of perfect humanness. Surrender also invites self-forgiveness, an act all perfectionists need to practice daily.

3 Tips to Manage Perfectionism

1. Laugh.

About anything. Do it often. Having a sense of humor about ourselves and our actions, especially embarrassing or disappointing experiences, doesn’t have to be a shield or form of protection. Humor can heal or at least create enough dopamine and endorphins to get us through the tough moments.

2. Forgive, forgive, forgive. Most of all, yourself.

Forgiveness is actually a selfish act. This is not a bad thing. Forgiveness releases us from fear-based thoughts and emotions. It is the gateway to surrendering our perception of control over our lives and over the actions of others.

3. Surround yourself by free spirits.

If you can’t find anyone like that in your circle of friends, then read about them or watch movies about dreamers and risk-takers—people who’ve failed or made huge mistakes only to overcome them and create an even better life than they could have imagined.

 • ~ •

After thirty years of perfecting perfectionism, I’ve finally learned to let go of controlling every detail of my life. It’s scary sometimes, and there are days when I want to organize and reorganize my desk instead of facing what’s really bothering me.

But those difficult, uncomfortable, and challenging moments pass much quicker when I simply exhale and surrender to whatever is in my heart and in my mind. A softening occurs, and my body finally relaxes instead of being constantly braced for struggle.

I may still compare myself to that social media dynamo who effortlessly attracts a huge following on Facebook or avoid looking at myself as I pass a store window for fear of being disappointed by my reflection, but now I just smile and keep going, knowing that this too shall pass.

Edited for readability
by  Erin Dougherty    Join Erin Dougherty’s mailing list at www.birdsongreadings.com and get a free copy of “Finding Your Personal Mythology.” Or join her Facebook group“The Mythic Life,” all about the everyday hero’s journey.

Being Mindful

Counseling TidBits

For an answer, go to the place where there is no thought and listen.
Who cares if you are enlightened forever? Can you get it in this moment, now?  ~ Byron Katie

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… Dismiss All That Insults Your Soul

Life Is Like a Book. 



Self Criticism? How to Overcome Your Inner “I’m Not Good Enough” Voice

Worth Reading – from off the Web!

Instead of going down the beaten path of self-blame and self-punishment for not being “good enough”, we can rewire our brains to think and behave differently.

We live in a world where the theme of unworthiness shows up in all areas in life. As kids, we proudly show off our high marks and perfect behaviors knowing they will earn us praises and approval from adults, and as adults, we constantly judge and punish ourselves for our lack of wealth, success, relationships and others’ good opinions of us. In my healing and coaching practice, the most common story that is told over and over is the one of “I’m not good enough.”

That was the story of my life as well, for over 3 decades. Having grown up in an Asian culture in the 80’s where being an overachiever was encouraged, the accepted, even celebrated method to motivate children was to subject them to harsh criticism and belittling (ie. “who do you think you are”, “you are nothing until you prove your worth so you can be something”, etc.) As a result, I not only internalized the disempowering belief that “I am not good enough” but I also made sure it dominated and manifested in every area of my life — without fail.

As powerful as this or any belief can be, it is only a belief, and we can choose to liberate ourselves from it – simply because it isn’t who we are. If you are constantly battling with a similar story, I invite you to read and practice the following steps to take your power back from that self-limiting belief.

Signs, Signs Everywhere

The first sign is always what we call a negative feeling. Our feelings are intelligent communications from our bodies to indicate to us whether a belief is in or out of alignment with who we are. How we feel at any moment is filtered by our thoughts and our thoughts derive from our existing beliefs. When our beliefs are no longer serving us, our feelings – being the language of the soul in a very literal fashion will give us a little (or large) kick to raise an alert. When I am in a coaching session, whenever a story comes up that is out of alignment, I always ask my clients how it makes them feel. The answer is always along the line of “it makes me feel crappy.”

The signs can range from physical ailments such as lack of energy or tension in various parts of the body to mental and emotional symptoms such as procrastination, depression and anxiety; or they can be a combination of conditions from all levels including feeling a tight knot of anxiety in the stomach that is often accompanied by digestive issues.

Our beliefs also have clever ways to disguise themselves as positive as well as socially approved motivations and behaviors.

Perfectionism is one of them. For the longest time I unconsciously chose to tell the story of “I am a perfectionist” which allowed me to get away from the harsh voice of “I am not good enough.” Yet time and time again when I ruthlessly put myself down for every little perceived failure, I finally realized my perfectionism was only a sugar coated version of “I suck.”

Another common disguise is altruism, or people pleasing behavior. We convince ourselves it is noble of us to place others’ needs before ours as well as compromise our own happiness because it earns us praises such as compassionate, kind and selfless.

Some of us have the tendency to give ourselves up or lose ourselves completely in relationships. Our society has a very powerful reinforcement system when it comes to encouraging selfless behavior without addressing the fundamental notion that our first relationship is always the relationship with ourselves. Without loving, cherishing and respecting ourselves, there is no relationship with others. When we do not know how to value ourselves and make the highest choices for ourselves, how can we honor others as loving, deserving and worthy?

There is certainly nothing wrong with giving our best in circumstances and relationships. However, it is helpful to always do a little honest self-inquiry and ask ourselves how each decision makes us feel. And if it does not feel uplifting, what belief is underneath that decision?

When we practice consciously acknowledging our old patterns every by listening to what our bodies are trying to tell us, we are stepping out of the unconscious and reactive way of living so we can compose a response that allows us to freely create based on who we want to be rather than recreate past scenarios of who we were told to be.

Instead of going down that old beaten path that leads to nothing but a stinking swamp, aka the self-blame and self-punishment for not being worthy, we can choose again and create a new path. The more we can catch ourselves on auto pilot, the more we can rewire our brains to think and behave differently.

Decisions, Decisions

Read more here: Self Criticism? How to Overcome Your Inner “I’m Not Good Enough” Voice

Why Practice Mindfulness?

Why Practice Mindfulness?

peaceMindfulness-Based Stress Reduction pioneer Jon Kabat-Zinn shares several good reasons for us to make mindfulness part of our lives and our communities.

The ultimate promise of mindfulness is much larger, much more profound, than simply cultivating our attentiveness. It helps us understand that our conventional view of ourselves and even what we mean by “self” is incomplete in some very important ways.

Mindfulness helps us recognize how and why we mistake the actuality of things for some story we create. It then makes it possible for us to chart a path toward greater sanity, wellbeing, and purpose.

“If our thinking is not balanced with awareness, we can end up deluded – Mistaking reality for some story  that we created.”

Today, as we bring science together with meditation, we’re beginning to find new ways, in language we can all understand, to show the benefits of training oneself to become intimate with the workings of one’s own mind in a way that generates greater insight and clarity. The science is showing interesting and important health benefits of mind/body training and practices, and is now beginning to elucidate the various pathways though which mindfulness may be exerting its effects on the brain (emotion-regulation, working memory, cognitive control, attention, activation in specific somatic maps of the body, cortical thickening in specific regions) and the body (symptom reduction, greater physical well-being, immune function enhancement, epigenetic up and down regulation of activity in large numbers and classes of genes). It is also showing that meditation can bring a sense of meaning and purpose to life, based on understanding the non-separation of self and other. Given the condition we find ourselves in these days on this planet, understanding our interconnectedness is not a spiritual luxury; it’s a societal imperative.

Even very, very smart people—and there are plenty of them around—are starting to recognize that thinking is only one of many forms of intelligence. If we don’t recognize the multiple dimensions of intelligence, we are hampering our ability to find creative solutions and outcomes for problems that don’t admit to simple-minded fixes. It’s like having a linear view in medicine that sees health care solely as fixing people up—an auto mechanic’s model of the body that doesn’t understand healing and transformation, doesn’t understand what happens when you harmonize mind and body. The element that’s missing in that mechanical understanding is awareness.

Genuine awareness can modulate our thinking, so that we become less driven by unexamined motivations to put ourselves first, to control things to assuage our fear, to always proffer our brilliant answer. We can create an enormous amount of harm, for example, by not listening to other people who might have different views and insights. Fortunately, we have more of an opportunity these days to balance the cultivation of thinking with the cultivation of awareness. Anyone can restore some degree of balance between thinking and awareness right in this present moment, which is the only moment that any of us ever has anyway. The potential outcomes from purposefully learning to inhabit awareness and bring thought into greater balance are extremely positive and healthy for ourselves and the world at large.

Working on our mindfulness, by ourselves and along with others, hinges on appreciating the power of awareness to balance thought. There’s nothing wrong with thinking. So much that is beautiful comes out of thinking and out of our emotions. But if our thinking is not balanced with awareness, we can end up deluded, perpetually lost in thought, and out of our minds just when we need them the most.

Jon Kaba t-Zinn is the founding director of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He is  the author of Coming to Our Senses: Healing the World and Ourselves through Mindfulness.   Article from Shambala Sun

Letting Go Of the Past to Appreciate the Present

Suffering doesn’t make us grow –

But what we do with our feelings could make us grow. ⚡️💡

It’s an interesting saying though. Where did it come from?  Perhaps it’s because anguish and acute awareness sometimes occur near one another, in time and space.dreamstime_m_43975880

For me, however, what makes us grow is understanding our feelings, questioning the thoughts behind them, seeing the cause-and-effect of it all.

If we utilize this information the next time these feelings arise (anger, sadness, depression, confusion, fear), we can remember the awareness, aha moment, or insight we discovered before. We can  notice that what we are experiencing in the here and now is separate from the past.

Uncomfortable feelings are nearly always preceded by a stressful thought, and when the feelings come, we can isolate the stressful thought, idea, or assumption and question it thoroughly.contemplation

I find journaling a powerful aid here. Just write your rambling thoughts about a situation that made you uncomfortable (in your mind or in reality – doesn’t matter). Then let it set. You probably will already feel better because the act of writing is cathartic. But for true growth to occur, go back later and read what you wrote. Pretend you are a scientist!  Your job is to (compassionately) dissect your writing to find the threads of connection…

Try asking these questions:

1. Have I ever felt this way before? Are there any other similarities?

Personal example:   I had to  go to my son’s junior high school to deliver his medicine.   I noticed I had a racing heart, a sense of urgency to complete the task, and an overall sense of shame.

It made no sense in my logical mind.

 Have I ever felt this way before? Are there any other similarities? 

Junior high was very scary for me. I was picked on by other girls and I was even beaten up a number of times. The threats often occurred when students were moving from one class to their next, so I was especially scared when that bell rang!

2.  What were the beliefs / thoughts around the event? 

Thoughts– (that caused the racing heart, urgency and intense fear.)

(BTW – I think I ‘should’ be embarrassed to share this, as the discovered back-thoughts seem so clearly absurd and immature… but, I wouldn’t have known these were the thoughts if I hadn’t compassionately asked and listened...)

THOUGHTS:  I might be attacked!.. Did I do something wrong???… If I can become unnoticeable, I might make it… Hopefully the bell won’t ring!

Well – pretty obvious right? But my body didn’t know that , so:
junior high  –>  made mistake (let son run out of meds)  –>  fear….

Let me say, I’m not reactive to junior high’s anymore.

By listening, compassionately, to your own mistaken innocent mind, you can become free… from this,  then that,  then…