Why I'm Proudly a Former Perfectionist
Oh, how many years I wasted striving for perfection! Gosh, typing that sentence is pretty much on par with "how many years I wasted hunting unicorns." It just doesn't exist.
The first time I realized I no longer wanted to be a perfectionist was on my yoga mat. I remember the instance so well: I stumbled out of a pose, and instead of berating myself for falling, I smiled. Then I said to myself, "It's OK Sara [still smiling], just get right back in." First I softened, then I spoke to myself with kindness and compassion (and if you can't hear my tone through these words, that was about as rare as the aforementioned unicorns).
It simply felt better than beating myself up. In fact, having a gentler inner-dialogue made for a stronger practice, not the other way around (another life parallel if you will...can you tell this practice has changed my life? It is why I recently got certified to teach!).
Now I wear my "hummanness" with pride. I still tend to put pressure on myself from time to time, but I try my best to notice it, then let it go. It is also a practice.
What does this have to do with health might you ask? A lot. As a health coach, I see a lot of perfectionism, particularly when it comes to eating "clean" and exercise. And if one strays from a plan or program, well all efforts have gone to hell in a handbasket, so what's the use?
I've been there. I get it. I'm here to tell you something that I wish someone else had told me a long time ago: you have a lot more control than you think you do. What I mean by that is that you have a choice in how you take care of yourself, and you definitely have a choice in how you speak to yourself. The one thing that might help you feel a bit more empowered in these choices is consciousness. Knowing that you have control over these things. And if you have spent years giving your power up to food/time/family members/outside circumstances, well it's time to take your power back.
Think about today...if you were to release this elusive idea of " being perfect," what would taking care of yourself look and feel like today? What would your next meal consist of? How would you move your body (or rather, not move your body. Maybe you need to rest!)? What could you say to yourself that is encouraging and compassionate? Are you doing the best you can with what you have where you are? Be honest, and if the answer is yes, celebrate that! If it is no, then what is one small step you can take to improve upon it?
When you release perfection, you let go of the negative emotion that is attached to "veering off course." Trust me, that simultaneous cortisol spike isn't doing you any favors. It allows you to look at the choice or behavior with more objectivity; as information for what might not have worked. Then if you want something to be different, you know you have the tools to make that happen.