Over the last 2 months, I have learned a lot about myself. I am always amazed at the power of self-reflection, and how important it is to have someone, whether a friend or therapist that is on the outside looking in to provide you with a point of view or perspective you didn’t see before.
Just when I thought I was getting a pretty good understanding of who I am, life provides what I call a ‘Glass Shattering Moment’.
Those profound moments in life where you finally connect the dots and take a step back and say, ‘huh?! How about that?’ or in my case, it was more like… ‘Sh*t.’ Not in a bad sense, it was more that my foundational understanding about myself had suddenly changed. The ability to reflect and have an openness to new insight is profoundly important in my opinion. It offers us the opportunity to change a behaviour or mindset – it allows us to grow.
I won’t go into the details, but a part of my glass shattering moment had to do with my need for perfection. For as long as I can remember perfection has been something I have struggled with. In reality, I believe every single one of us deals with perfection to some degree. In particular, those of us who have struggled with our weight. Our weight issue is built upon perfection. It is one of the fundamental aspects that I must help nearly all of my patients overcome.
To loosely quote Brene Brown, ‘Perfection is breeding out scarcity. The idea that we are not ENOUGH.’
I am not skinny enough… If I am perfect, look perfect, and live perfectly then I can avoid shame, blame and judgement. However, when we try to achieve perfection the opposite occurs. We look at ourselves inwardly and beat ourselves down.
That is because achieving perfection is impossible. No matter how hard you try – you will never be perfect. No one will. When you are unable to achieve your idea of perfection that is when the shame spiral starts – ‘I am a loser.’ ‘I am not enough.’ I have recited those lines in my head more times than I can count, and I have seen this as a downfall for nearly every single one of my patients.
What if we could change that? What if we could let go of perfection?
Anyone else feel anxious just reading those questions? I know I do, but if we work to start on showing ourselves compassion and move away from perfection that is when the game changes. That is when we can start living the life we want and deserve to live. We can achieve true happiness.
To start we need to ask, ‘Who?’
WHO was it that told me I have to do 45 minutes of cardio 5x a week to be healthy? WHO was it that said I need to eliminate all carbs and sugar from my diet? WHO was it that said I need to lose 20 pounds in 1 month? WHO?
Sometimes you will know exactly WHO is and other times not so much. It might have been your parents, a friend, your doctor, or in a lot of cases, it is YOU. You somehow came up with this arbitrary idea of what is perfection. In reality, it doesn’t matter because the next question you need to ask is WHY NOT?
- WHY NOT 5 minutes of cardio 3x a week and then increase from there?
- WHY NOT just have a smaller portion of carbs at dinner?
- WHY NOT make a small change that is manageable, sustainable, and that I can build upon?
- WHY NOT? Start questioning your behaviours, especially if you are headed down that shame spiral. It is a clear indication that you are trying to attempt perfection.
Remember we are looking to be successful a majority of the time, this is like an election. You will have good days and bad days – that is OK. There will be votes cast for both sides, but if we can be successful more days than what we currently are I can guarantee that you will be a different person this time next year.
So show yourself compassion and stay curious my friends.
– Dr. Dan