How Being a Perfectionist Kept Me From My Dreams

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The word perfectionist usually comes with a medley of emotional responses depending on the person. Some people may think of a meticulous overachiever that relentlessly pursues goals. Others may think of a very critical, judgmental person for who, it seems, nothing is ever good enough. Some people evoke a sense of pride with this word and others avoid the association. I was on the latter end.

You see, for years I struggled with an eating disorder because of being a perfectionist. I fell into the whole, “nothing is ever good enough,” and I constantly ran myself into the ground trying to achieve to make myself feel good enough which left me utterly depleted. When I came to yoga I vowed to release my perfectionist ways and my eating disorder in the process. It worked well, I thought.

In a recent coaching session, a coach and I were discussing why I kept avoiding my Japanese lessons. I would have full intentions to tackle my work, do the lesson plan, prepare, and then fear would set in that I wouldn’t get it all done and I’d just give up. She looked at me and said, “Erin, you sound like a perfectionist.” I felt my body go weak when I heard this. I felt my face get hot with shame, and I burst into tears. She was right. I didn’t even realize it, but I had gone from a very obvious perfectionist, to a closet perfectionist. I guess in my very emotionally charged rant, I had said the word perfect about 5xs without even realizing it. It’s funny how we can do and say things and not even realize it.

So I took a moment and I admitted it to myself. I accepted it. And you know what, rather than feeling shame about it, I felt this sense of empowerment and relief all at the same time. I felt magnificent because I know that when I target these seeming characteristics about myself, that they are choices, and I could CHOOSE to not be a perfectionist anymore. I would bet most people don’t realize that a lot of the habits we fall into are choices. We just become really efficient at them by choosing them often. Then we get so good at them, we go on autopilot and chalk it up to, “Well, that’s just how I’m wired.” Well yea, but you chose that. The good news is that you can “unchoose” it and replace it with something so much more powerful. We can replace this habit with anything. Seriously.

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