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March 10, 2021

Why Perfectionism is an Enemy.

 

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Prior to the advent of the new year, I made a promise to myself.

After yet another journey through a black underground in my soul, which dimmed my vision of the world and my place in it, I slowly but surely reached an impasse.

Tired of the fog that surrounded me whenever I asked myself what I wanted the next three to five years of my life to look like, I vowed to remain committed to my growth.

What, exactly, did that commitment entail?

Well, to begin with, it involved reprogramming the internal working models of attachment,which held me captive to the toxic seduction of codependency and love addiction. I joined a 12-step program and learned to unlearn all that I had come to believe about who I was and what I was worth. I learned to identify my boundaries and enforce them, and sometimes, this included setting limits with and for myself, as well.

I became a member of Thais Gibson’s Personal Development School in order to deprogram a nearly lifelong anxious attachment pattern that kept me up all night wondering whether I was enough or would be abandoned by a person I loved more than myself. I ate for health more consistently—something I have always believed so strongly in—and grounded myself in the vibration of the natural world.

I began writing, not only for personal enjoyment but also to get published. Knowing that no true change can occur without first addressing the shift that needs to take place from within, I watered my soul’s garden daily and basked in all its small budding glory. This time, I am the phoenix, I told myself. I will rise from these ashes.

In order to balance the yin and yang forces within me, I created a vision board during the last new moon of the year. On it, I created a professional template for myself alongside a list of steps I needed to take in order to get where I inevitably wanted to be. I enrolled in some certification courses as a foundation to secure a base for what I desired. I began to become addicted to the dopamine rush I experienced whenever I achieved a goal—however large or small—I set.

I structured my day in order to accomplish whatever I felt I needed to, and whenever I felt lacking in that “get-up-and-go,” I found myself feeling restless and dissatisfied. I felt anxious, scattered, and self-critical. I stopped seeing friends because I viewed socializing as a distraction, something that held me back from carrying on with my own objectives, and I sometimes even compared myself unfavorably with others.

Instead of codependent, I became counter-dependent, hardly ever reaching out to or relying on other people. I knew this was a symptom of an energy imbalance, and once again, I beat myself up for not being awake enough to transcend these lower vibrations within me.

What do I have to change now? What is the key to balancing my life?

These were questions I frequently asked myself, as I dreamt of what balancing my life would look like for me.

I was obsessed with self-improvement, with “getting somewhere,” and ultimately, with proving something to myself. After recognizing that I had spent so much of my earlier life vying for the unconditional love, respect, and approval of others, I turned that focus inward and became not only my greatest ally, but also my own most formidable enemy.

It dawned on me, quickly: perfectionism was my own weapon of mass self-destruction. And I realized how pervasive it was. Talking with my CODA sponsor every Saturday morning made me more aware that the issue wasn’t necessarily only needing validation from others, but also needing to overdo things, and, in turn, be excessively hard on myself in the face of real or perceived personal failure.

Over the next few weeks, I thought long and hard about self-care and how it was more than simply eating a plant-based diet, walking through a field barefoot, falling asleep to binaural beats, and wearing certain gemstones.

It was also about the steady stream of thoughts I allowed to flow through the river of my consciousness, the emotions I gave power to, and the life events I judged as being either positive or negative. Once again, this was part of setting boundaries with myself. I had to learn the art of mastering the mind, and thus, improving the quality of my thoughts.

As a spiritual teacher, Eckhart Tolle said: “The beginning of freedom is the realization that you are not ‘the thinker.’”

Reading that quote set me free for the first time. It made me aware that I could be a passive observer of my mind instead of an active participant that breathed more and more life into the creation of a specific, albeit negative, thought.

I learned to call on my higher power and ask for guidance, in whatever recognizable form it took, in moments of struggle. I learned to surrender and allow something to simply be. More importantly, I now take perfectionism like a fine grain of salt, and drink from the cup of balance and my internal self-care practices to the very best of my ability.

Although still a work in progress, it is something I adamantly believe in. Perfectionism is useful only so that it motivates us to better ourselves and to grow. However, if taken to its extreme, it can dampen our spirit and cloud our consciousness.

When we rise under the umbrella of this awareness, life begins to flow in perfect alignment. What do I mean by this? Moreover, how do we do this?

We need to accept one thing:

What is meant for us, whatever that may be, will indeed find its way to us—sometimes in a manner we would not expect or wrapped in a package we do not automatically recognize as being for us or having in it what we need.

This happens once we radically accept who we are along the journey of our lives. Radical acceptance is not a precursor to giving up, but instead allows us to see ourselves more clearly from a place of love rather than lack or fear. For example, if you want to become a best-selling author, you must first accept that you are now working in a power plant and haven’t even so much as submitted an article to an online journal for publication.

Be mindful of where you are in the here and now and envision the steps you need to take from the place you already stand. Don’t begin to think about traveling the world, signing copies of your first book, but think instead of the ways in which you could work your way up to that, and begin to build the foundation of that dream in so-called smaller ways.

Expecting something bigger from nothing only sets you up for the inevitable disappointment. More importantly, do not become so focused on where you are not that you forget where you are. The present moment is your point of power. In doing this, you learn the art of surrender and your life flows more gracefully.

Because, beginning as children, we learn that we are what we do, how we think of ourselves, and how we behave. We learn that there are consequences for not doing, thinking, and acting in accordance with the expectations of those around us. We then internalize their disappointment, turning it inward against ourselves, and poison our soul with negative self-talk.

Unknowingly, we identify with those judgments and resist this radical self-love and acceptance, believing that neither of those things will motivate us to be productive or gift us with what it is we so desire from ourselves, others, and our lives, in general.

We thus fail to see this perfectionism as a disease, an enemy that chronically and pervasively erodes the fabric of our happiness.

Happiness is not an outcome; it is a by-product. More often than that, however, happiness is a choice, as it is the by-product of our perspective.

Once we disassociate from our thoughts and learn to see them from a bird’s eye view, we hold space for ourselves to make changes, nurtured by the awareness that at its extreme, perfectionism is a foe that does not ultimately serve us.

~

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