“I’m breezy” I whisper to myself, as I color-code my notes from my 8th self-help book on how to become the best version of myself.

For a long time, I labeled my perfectionism as a strength. Telling employers in job interviews “Don’t worry, I always make sure it’s done perfectly” hoping they would see that I was highly organized and determined; a hard worker who would always go above and beyond.

And while there are some positives to our perfectionist natures, like ambition and determination, there can be a really steep downside to living with extremely high standards for ourselves.

I didn’t notice this pattern in myself until I was sobbing on the kitchen floor, next to my juicer, trying to recall the last time I felt relaxed.

Anything I set out to do became a jittery mix of obsession to do it well, coupled with the stress and fear of messing it up.

It was always all or nothing for me. And this all or nothing mindset spilled over into my healing journey.

When I set out to heal chronic symptoms 15 years ago, I poured myself into the research, reading any book I could get my hands on, seeing specialist after specialist, and trying their methods to a T.

I am excellent at following directions, surely I will conquer this healing thing.

In a series of following this or that protocol, I had given up dairy, gluten, sugar, alcohol, corn, and coffee (for a hot minute). I was washing my hair with baking soda and vinegar and moisturizing with coconut oil. I was growing my own cultures in my studio apartment and fermenting my own foods. I was lugging my 15 pound juicer around to squeeze fresh celery juice every morning.

And I was thoroughly unrelaxed.

Healing had just become the next area I transferred my perfectionism as a way to control and really as a form of avoidance. If I could keep myself busy with healing, focusing on ridding myself of symptoms, I wouldn’t have to figure out why I was so uncomfortable in stillness or what I was actually trying to avoid.

Healing became another way of bypassing the uncomfortableness that was brewing underneath.

With extremely unrealistic expectations of myself, I was pushing myself through everything. And the bar was just too high.

Perfectionism was also keeping my nervous system in a state of arousal and I was never going to heal here.

If you clicked on this blog, odds are you are a perfectionist, have high-functioning anxiety, are a woman/eldest daughter, were labeled highly gifted, are highly sensitive, and likely also suffer with mystery symptoms or chronic illness.

So, if this resonates with you, let’s get into it.

What is perfectionism?

Perfectionism is exactly what it sounds like – the search for perfect.

Nothing else will do in the mind of a perfectionist. If we’re gonna do it, we’re gonna pour ourselves into doing it right. Otherwise, we’ll completely avoid doing it for fear that we’ll fail.

Perfectionism is deeply rooted in shame and the feeling of not being good-enough.

And, like most things we end up having to heal from, it likely started in our childhood.

Maybe we were made to feel that nothing we did was enough, or felt like we had to prove ourselves in order to gain love. So, we develop these habits of doing more, and being better, to protect ourselves and stay safe, stay loved, and stay connected to our caregivers.

How does perfectionism show up in our healing journey?

Perfectionism can be a form of avoidance.

In healing it might look like jumping on the latest healing bandwagon, following the healing gurus, practicing all the techniques and applying all the tools but never actually digging deep or sitting with ourselves in stillness to uncover some of our shadows.

We end up putting all our effort into the external as a way for us to avoid. It could be avoiding our emotions, or a feeling of shame, or something from our past, or the physical feelings that are associated with those things.

For me, I used perfectionism to run from what my body was trying to tell me. I didn’t want to sit with uncomfortable feelings from my past, or to address my shame, or to feel the physical and often uncomfortable sensations coming up.

So, I poured myself into perfecting healing.

The antidote to perfectionism is self-compassion.

Here are some ways to begin showing ourselves a little more ease:

Choosing to show ourselves a bit more compassion can have such a huge impact on our daily life as well as our nervous system and healing.

Want to explore ways to become more gentle and compassionate with yourself?

Check out my 21 Days of Gentle Living guide.

Using practices like mindfulness, journaling, reflection, and connecting to the body you’ll get to practice prioritizing yourself and viewing yourself through a more gentle and loving lens.

Plus there is a bonus page for energy hygiene rituals.

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