I’ve spent most of my life, consciously or unconsciously trying to be perfect – in almost every area of my life – and at the same time feeling like I was failing miserably at it.
Ahem. No kidding!
If you’re reading this, I’m going to take a wild guess that you can relate.
After all, attempting to do things perfectly (or close to perfectly) is a common personality trait shared by women and men who suffer with chronic pain and other mind body syndromes.
It usually develops when we’re young, and for good reasons – so that we can gain approval, and avoid potentially dangerous disapproval from our parents and other authority figures.
Obsessing about doing things right (or perfectly) is also a way the mind keeps our awareness out of our body, which makes it an effective method for avoiding uncomfortable emotions.
Perfectionism may have served you well when you were a child, especially if you were in situations where your emotions were not welcome or you had no support to feel them.
But, if you’re in pain – or suffering with any other Mind Body Syndrome – it is not serving you well now.
In addition to causing pain, perfectionism is likely sucking the love and joy out of most everything you do.
The ways you think and push yourself when you’re trying to be perfect zap you right out of your body and put you straight into your mind, completely disconnecting you from your emotions, your heart and your soul – and everyone else.
They also leave you in a chronic and unconscious state of fight or flight…. tensing your muscles, holding your breath, and continually releasing stress hormones that further increase muscle tension, decrease blood flow, and in general, break your body down.
Not only that, when you’re trying to be perfect is when you are most likely to….
Yell at your kids, partner, friends, or boss.
Criticize the heck out of yourself.
Rush around like a maniac.
Push yourself to do more – and more – and more – and…well, you get the idea.
Ignore your body.
Feel like giving up.
Ignore your emotions and intuition. Intuition, what’s that?
Feel like you’re not good enough.
Push away your friends – and most other support.
Stop taking chances.
Stop having fun.
In other words, be very IM-perfect.
As you can see, like most strategies unconsciously created by your mind, perfectionism is not at all effective!
It’s no longer keeping you safe.
If you want to relieve pain you’re going to have to outsmart this perfectionism thing.
So how can you do that?
By striving for connection instead.
Connect to your thoughts.
Connect to your body.
Connect to your emotions.
Connect to your soul.
Connect to love.
Connect to someone else.
Connection sounds hard but it’s so easy!
All you have to do is notice.
Whatever is there, even if it is nothing – with acceptance, curiosity, and compassion.
So, when you notice that you are stressing out trying to do something perfectly (or really well, which is perfectly under cover)…..
….like say, oh……complete a project (or 10) on time, plan the most perfect experience for yourself or your family or friends; eat optimally healthy food; exercise every day without fail; be an amazing mother/wife/girlfriend/friend (hello Super Woman); think the exact right, best feeling thoughts all the time; say the exact right thing; do 1 – or possibly 8 – hours of mind body practice every day (in exactly the right way of course); make the “right” plans, or the “best” decision, or be precisely on time, or cure cancer, or save the planet…..
Just notice that you are aiming for perfection, breathe, and turn your focus to connection instead. Say to yourself,
“How would I be doing this or what would I be doing if my goal were connection rather than perfection?”
Maybe you would be connecting to your body by breathing and noticing the sensations there.
Maybe you would drop the effort, and decide to approach whatever you’re doing with a sense of joy and play.
Maybe you would give yourself permission to make mistakes – lots and lots and lots of mistakes – and just be pleased with yourself for doing whatever it is you’re doing.
Maybe you would visualize filling yourself up with love and light, or send some to someone else.
Maybe you would give your child a great big hug or take a minute to smell a flower, put on some music, or pet your cat.
Maybe you would smile – to yourself or someone else.
And remember, perfectionism sucks the love and joy out of just about everything.
The truth is that what actually keeps us safe and loved is not getting anything done, or doing it right, or being the best, or having others approve, or making more money….
It’s connecting to who we are.
Which, by the way, IS LOVE.
Being perfect won’t ever get you where you want to go (especially if you want to relieve pain).
Take the pressure off.
Allow more play.
Allow more YOU.
The love you want is right there – ALWAYS.
All you have to do is connect.
Lorraine Faehndrich is an Endorsed Mind Body Coach and Women’s Health Mentor specializing in the relief of Female Pelvic and Sexual Pain – including Vulvodynia and Vulvar Vestibulitis. In addition to helping women find relief for their pain, Lorraine helps her clients break through to a whole new understanding of their health and their body, reconnect with their truth and go on to live outrageously joyful and radiantly healthy lives!
To learn more about how to work with her or to receive a Free Mind Body Alchemy Starter Kit please visit www.RadiantLifeDesign.com