What’s Behind Perfectionism?
It is very common these days to see articles written on how perfectionism is bad and holds you back from becoming your greatest self. Why it’s due to the fear of being judged rising up to stop you!
I’m known to be a perfectionist. Everything I do has to look right, sound right, and of course be right and that kind of mindset has indeed held me back in many respects.
I mean who wants to be judged or seen as wrong?
So it made perfect sense to me that I’d want to “grieve correctly”
With Loss Comes Grief
When my dad died, I for the first time experienced the heart wrenching, emotional turmoil, and chaos that grieving a loss will bring to your life. I needed to know how to grieve. No one had taught me. However, I didn’t have the language to ask for what I wanted to know.
Truthfully I needed to know that I wouldn’t feel this way forever, so what could I do in the meantime? The kindly psychologist I consulted with shared a few things:
- Everyone’s grief is unique
- You never get over your grief
- It will take as long as it takes
My perfectionist brain couldn’t handle that information
Ok, granted I get it everyone’s grief has to be unique to them – tick
You never get over your grief” that I couldn’t believe was right! I’d feel this way forever?
Being told that it will take as long as it takes certainly wasn’t the answer I was looking for either.
Off I went on my own journey of discovery to find my own answers. If it hadn’t been for my desire to do “grief” correctly, I may never have had the adventures I had as I discovered my own way to heal and my way out of grief.
The 3 P’s
Not long into my search, I discovered the 3 P’s, (personalization, permanent, pervasive) by Martin Seligman, a renowned psychologist and this helped me begin to unpack my grief. Positive psychology and learning resilience are the tools Dr. Seligman is teaching about.
When we personalize the loss, we take on the belief that we are to blame and are somehow at fault. Pervasive is the belief that our grief will effect and spill over into every area of our lives. Permanent is the fear that how we are feeling in the moment will continue and we will always feel this way.
Sheryl Sandberg (COO Facebook) would go on to use the 3 P’s in her own healing journey after the death of her husband. She later gave a commencement speech to graduating students on how they could use them to navigate their own challenges.
My perfectionism was actually a good thing because it led me on an amazing journey. Six years later, I feel comfortable talking not only about my own journey into and out of grief but now I’m helping others become comfortable with their own grief.
So as a recovering perfectionist, I can say – it isn’t always a bad thing just don’t allow it to paralyze you but use it for good!
“Hope springs eternal in the human breast;
Man never Is, but always To be blessed.
The soul, uneasy, and confin’d from home,
Rests and expatiates in a life to come.”
Hope Springs Eternal – Where Would We Be Without It?
Life has many ups and downs but what keeps us going is hope. It is our resilience, that invisible thread that pulls us along. Buoys us up and keeps us afloat. Take away our hope and we are lost. A part of us dies. “Why continue on,” we think? Hope brings in the potential, the possibilities, new beginnings, new learning, newborn ideas, new pathways to follow or new journeys to pursue. The hope that tomorrow our dreams will come true, our “ship will come in”. Hope lifts us like a balloon and can make our bleak situation manageable as long as we have hope. We treasure it and bring it out for those moments of need. We can polish it off and let it shine brightly. We can follow where it leads us. To all those possibilities we wouldn’t otherwise get to see.
It is in those challenging of moments when all hope has gone and we linger in despair. A death, a relationship has gone wrong or even a job loss. All things we hold so dear and pin our fragile hopes for better on. We rush about in the temptation of finding something out there to make it all better. Instead, if only we turn inwards toward that small flame, we know lives deep within us. Without Hope, we loose our vitality, we grow heavy and end up depressed. Even the flame so small it’s barely there, if we nurture it and fan the small spark, it will once more to shine brightly within us. The heat can be felt as the possibilities arise from within, helping us feel lighter, pregnant with new thoughts and ideas once more. Sometimes it takes those challenging moments for us to pay attention to that small spark within. Once we pay attention we can make it burn bright, lighting our way once more. How do we fan that almost extinguished flame? In those darkest of moments, the utter despair if we can find but one element of gratitude for what has been lost. Then build and find more. It is gratitude that can ignite the flame.
Dreams for a Better
Our dreams can arise on the back of the hope of something better. It is then in taking action and moving forwards that determines the outcome. Humans are born with the ability to dream. This is what has propelled mankind onwards throughout the centuries. The Pilgrims left a stifled Europe to head towards a better life. Following their dreams, they landed and settled. Throughout the centuries man has moved forward in search of food, work, and better opportunities. It has been their dreams that have driven their hope for a better land. So many throughout history have left their homeland, found many hardships but the promise of hope kept them moving forward. Without that hope, they may have turned back.
What is the outcome that is hoped for? What dreams do you have that can propel you forward? With the internal flame well light, you can make your dreams come true. This is where goal setting comes in. Set them and move towards them. Each choice or decision you make can be checked to see if it is the right choice simple by asking “will this bring me towards my goal?” or will it “take me further away from it?” We just hope we make the right decision! Another way to decide what is the right choice is if you feel that internal spark growing larger and bringing with it excitement and hope. Then the right one has been made.
Hope Brought You Here
Where we are today started out as a dream or hope sometimes in the past. How many of your dreams have been discounted as too hard, just fantasy? We had no problems as children in following our dreams. We never thought they were fantasy at all. How many of you had a bed that flew to imaginary lands and took you on many adventures or how many forts have been built, where dreams and imagination knew no bounds? It is only once adults do we turn to face the reality of what we think our lives should be. We work, earn money, stay in jobs long past their enjoyment date if indeed enjoyment was ever there. Or we take jobs because that is what is expected of us. Over the years those dreams, those hope in our youth go dormant and the flame that sparked them grows dim. This is an opportunity to remember those beautiful moments in gratitude, the ones that made your life worthwhile.
Hope is that longing pulling you along, an expectation, a feeling of trust, a security or a reason to keep going. Ah, that passionate desire of your heart that moves you forward towards your goal and your future with hope.