How many people struggle with perfectionism? I know I do.
I wanted to share a little transformative experience that I had recently, in case it helps anyone out there who’s also in pain from their pursuit of perfectionism.
Recently, I hit an all time low. Lockdown has triggered so much that is still unhealed within me—loss, abandonment, and rejection, and I have been continuing my journey of healing. What an amazing journey it is.
But recently, and probably for around two weeks, I was pretty much lost in feelings of shame, panic, “I’ll be found out,” “I’m a fraud,” “I’m fundamentally a terrible person.” It was crippling—especially given the fact that I thought I’d broken through these particular negative belief patterns.
I woke up and I was like, “I can’t live with this feeling overwhelming my body emotionally and physically anymore, something needs to give, something needs to change.” I wanted this gone for good; because I knew somewhere inside that if I could soothe these feelings from within, then I would at last have some control over my deep, scary emotions. I knew I had people out there if I needed them—I have an amazing support network of friends, colleagues, and therapists, but I also knew somewhere inside that I needed to do this from within.
I was listening to someone speak about our inner wisdom, and although she wasn’t saying anything I didn’t know already or anything I hadn’t heard before, for some reason, it landed that day in a new way.
I went inward, and I sat in the shame, the pain, and the terror. As I sat, I cried a little. And I let love in. As I allowed that love to come in, I realised that some critical, perfection-driven part of me was not allowing me to mess up, was not allowing me to be human. And as I realised that, I allowed love to come in even more, and the shame and the terror eased off. I cried some more, and I sat comfortably with the feeling of shame and the terror eased a little.
Because I’d let love in, I realised that this shame and terror was just a little part of me that strives to be perfect, and of course fails, and with the “fail” comes shame and terror. And as I realised this, and realised that as a human I’m not supposed to be perfect, and that I can love myself even when I’m not perfect—perhaps even more at that stage, when I realised this in my heart rather than just with my head (I’ve known this in my head for years), the shame and terror lessened its grip, and I was able to feel love for myself at the same time.
I was able to sit in the feelings, loving myself, being okay with how awful I felt, and knowing everything was actually okay, and that humanness and vulnerability —whatever the situation—are actually incredibly safe places to be.