Perfectionism is something I have struggled with from my first breath of Earth’s sweet gases.
As a young woman in America, eating light and exercising was not enough. So, in the name of a perfect body, I meticulously counted calories and sweated in surplus like an anorexic Olympian.
As a student, studying was not enough. In the name of good grades, I abused Adderall and coffee.
As an adult woman in the working world, clocking in from nine to five was not enough. So, in the name of “more is better,” I worked overtime and embodied the spirit of a go-go gadget.
Slowing down was not in my vocabulary. Move, I have sh*t to do was.
My achievements were never enough. I lusted for more.
I began to see how convoluted this belief system was in 2016. The universe recognized my stubbornness and that I had no intention of healing my addiction to overdoing everything. I felt the universe then gifted me with a grocery list of mysterious illnesses and chronic insomnia.
I felt forced to slow down.
My illnesses stemmed from being horrifically harsh on myself.
In my 200-hour yoga teacher training in 2017, the leaders helped me shed light on this. But, first, I had to uncover my lie—that crackling cassette tape that’s jammed in the silky folds of my mind.
Something good happens: “You’re not worthy.” “You’re not enough.”
Something terrible happens: “I told you, you were a f*ck up!”
I knew my lie instantly. I felt I was not good enough.
Finally, I was ready to step out of this fog and into my power. Busyness was making me sicker by beating myself up and running away from my wounds. I committed to working with my coach and coaching myself.
Through facing my dysfunctional cassette tapes and manic behavior, I began to experience radical transformation which boosted my confidence, alleviated perfectionism, and helped me to cultivate contentment.
Here are nine ways to recover from perfectionism and invite more flow into our lives:
1. Breath meditation.
Breathing meditation is the most straightforward, most effective tool I know to calm the mind and ground yourself in the present. There is no room for a nagging voice. The ego dissolves.
“Be aware of your breathing as often as you are able, whenever you remember. Do that for one year, and it will be more powerfully transformative than attending all of these courses [you can take]. And it’s free.” ~ Eckhart Tolle from A New Earth
Journalling is another simple, accessible, and effective tool to clear the mind. Journaling helps to release thoughts and feelings that tornado white noise gossip in our minds. We can write it out to get it out and give our thoughts and feelings permission to be released. If journaling isn’t your thing, another suggestion is to make a list.
Celebrity therapist and acclaimed hypnotherapist, Marisa Peer, has helped thousands of people overcome addiction, self-sabotage, and low self-confidence by working with the affirmation, “I am enough.” This affirmation slowly records the negative tapes in our minds. I know it sounds too good to be true, but the most significant questions always have the simplest answers.
4. You are not your thoughts or feelings.
You have thoughts and feelings. And changing your thoughts gives you the power to change everything.
The next time you catch yourself drowning in negative self-talk or scrutinizing your life with a magnifying glass, take a holy pause. Breathe. Then turn those thoughts into positive or constructive ones. Say, “I am enough!”
“Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habits. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; they become your destiny.” ~ Lao Tzu
Exercise boosts energy, motivation, muscle tone, and self-esteem and alleviates depression and anxiety. The science is irrefutable now—exercise is a form of therapy.
This is something I invite all my clients to do, not just those who want to lose weight. Who doesn’t want more joy in their life? Move that body!
As a coach who gets coached, I see the power of having someone trustworthy to who you divulge darkness. Sharing secrets may make you cringe, but they will suffocate you if you do not give them a voice. There is so much healing in simply speaking to these wounds.
Coaching helps boost confidence by bringing awareness to these harsh thoughts, challenging, and replacing them with constructive ones. A coach also helps you set realistic goals (keeps you accountable), celebrates your success, and reminds you to practice gratitude.
7. The need for deeper sleep.
Sleep is not only imperative for overall wellness; it’s also free. When I sleep deeply, I am confident, focused, happy, and that nagging voice is like a faraway whisper.
As a recovering insomniac, I know sleep deprivation can cause depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. Make time to sleep eight hours a night. If you tend to have nighttime anxiety or want deeper sleep, cut off electronics an hour before bed, journal or read, drink some sleepy time tea, make your room cave dark, and hit the pillow.
If you have chronic insomnia, seek help now. Please do not wait; it only gets worse.
8. Find your flow state.
You can find flow in almost anything. However, the activity must have a challenge, immediate feedback, and a goal. My favorite flow activities are yoga, writing, hiking, singing, coloring, and road trips. Add a flow activity to your weekly routine (three times per week for one hour) and see your joy skyrocket.
A flow state is a heightened state of consciousness where people are absorbed in their present activity that nothing else matters momentarily. Flow silences our inner critic (what recovering perfectionist doesn’t crave that?!), accelerates learning, and cultivates immense joy.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi coined this term in the late 1960s amid the most extensive happiness study to date. He found that the people with the most flow in their life were also the happiest.
9. Ask for support from friends and family.
Be vulnerable and tell your loved ones you are working on your perfectionism or negative self-talk. Permit your loved ones to call you out when you are ugly to yourself. Being strong is being vulnerable. We are stronger together.
Remember, there is no such thing as perfect. Perfect is boring. Plain like a bagel without cream cheese. Embrace your flaws. They add flavor.
Turn your perfectionism into inspiration. Be confident in your mistakes. They are trying to teach you something.
And relish each moment; it is all there is.
“Happiness is a journey, not a destination. For a long time, it seemed to me that life was about to begin—real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. At last, it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life. This perspective has helped me to see there is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way. So treasure every moment you have and remember that time waits for no one.” ~ Alfred D. Souza