Updated: Feb 17
Where do I start???
This is one #sticky floor that I have struggled with - and it's not one that I would have thought… I’ve never felt like I have to be #PERFECT - but when I sit back, and I look at where a lot of my stress comes from, I can attribute it to this sticky floor of #perfectionism.
#Perfectionism is when life seems like an endless report card of your accomplishments, your looks, and your to-do LIST all checked off.
It is the belief that if we live perfect, look perfect, and act perfect - we minimize the #judgment we receive from others- and also from ourselves - we minimize struggle - we minimize “not being good enough.”
When I stopped and examined what perfectionism is about earning approval and acceptance.
Now - I have never ascribed to the notion that I’m perfect. But there are certain areas of my life that I am comfortable with not being perfect - and then there are areas where perfectionism kicks in - and I didn’t even realize it. I’ll give you some examples
My car- it's a mess. It is always dirty, it's got grass from the kids, dents, and scratches, and it drives my husband NUTS. But I could don’t mind and I don’t care! I’m happy to welcome anyone into my dirty ass car.
But when it comes to my fitness - I have struggled with not having the “perfect workout.”
Let me explain - I truly value my #health, and my #fitness. I pride myself on being SUPER fit- on being able to run 6 miles easily, lift heavy, to be #strong - For over 10 years of my life I was a #personal #trainer, a #yoga instructor, a #spin instructor, and an avid #runner. It was a huge piece of my identity. And when my life shifted from Corporate Wellness Instructor - where I worked out for a living - into the HR world, I wanted to keep that piece of fitness - that piece of myself ALIVE.
I would wake up early every morning, and get in at least 30 minutes of cardio, followed by a strength training session. Every day had time dedicated to fitness. I would be frustrated on the days that I got a slow start and could only get in 20 minutes of cardio - or if I had to miss a strength session. I would look at my husband would squeeze in 15 minutes of cardio because that is all the time he had - and think “he is fricking crazy! 15 minutes doesn’t do shit!” And I would 100% NOT WORKOUT AT ALL rather than squeeze in that 15 minutes if that was all I had. I just didn’t see the point - If I couldn’t do it right, I wasn’t going to do it.
That is perfectionism.
Let’s talk about #MOTHERHOOD- now, after 7 years I have relaxed a little bit, but I remember NEEDING to be the perfect mom. Now, I never used the word perfect- but I had set these standards that I believed were SO IMPORTANT - that they had to be done at all costs. I had to breastfeed my kid for a year (do you KNOW how stressful that was? I spent so much money and effort on cookies that would help me produce more milk, waking up in the middle of the night to pump more, and the STRESS associated with it - was ridiculous.) But I felt like I had to do it. Because it was the best thing for my kid. I felt like I had to have him sleep trained- yes, I wanted him to sleep when I slept, but I killed myself in the process - because I had this expectation that if I could show and tell others that I breastfed my kid for a year, he sleeps 8 hours a night, is fully vaccinated, and eats homemade baby food - that I was doing it right.
News flash - no one cared. No one cared if I bottle-fed, or breastfed, or formula fed. No one cared when he slept - they just cared that I was rested. But I had these tightly held beliefs, that this is what I had to do.
Now- When it's healthy, it can be super motivating and help you achieve your goals - think of wanting to check off your habit tracker” for a piece of daily movement each day or taking your vitamins.
But when it becomes unhealthy, it can cause you to feel like a constant failure - and leave you with these feelings of “I’m not good enough.” It can hamper your success because it can be self-destructive. Waking up in the middle of the night, several times a night to pump for my kid - when I easily could have rested, and fed him formula is self-destructive.
So how do we cultivate what we need to let go of this notion of perfectionism? This notion that if I don’t check all the boxes, or work out for the full hour each day - that it's OK- and that it is INDEED ENOUGH?
The key is to separate yourself, from the behavior. Address what you are doing, or not doing - and understand that it is not WHO YOU ARE. I am STILL a fitness-focused person - even if I don’t get a full hour of intense workouts every day. Just because I don’t get 30 minutes of intense cardio a day, doesn’t make me someone that isn’t fit, or healthy. Just because I gave my kids formula instead of breastfeeding them (because I preferred to sleep!) doesn’t make me a bad mom - it makes me human.
We have to stop hustling, grinding, and killing ourselves for worthiness by constantly perfecting, pleasing, and proving.
We must acknowledge our vulnerabilities- practice #self-compassion. We must embrace who we are, and our imperfections. Owning our story- and accepting our flaws, our imperfections, is one of the greatest things we can do for ourselves.
#Brene #Brown talks spent years studying shame - and in her book “The Gift of Imperfection” she states that “#Shame is the warm feeling that washes over us, making us feel small, flawed, and never good enough.” She talks about #shame #resilience, and how we need to recognize shame, but be able to move through it while maintaining our worthiness and our authenticity. It is the ability to move through the feeling of shame, and develop courage, compassion, and connection.
Ever notice that when you TALK about your failures or misses, you form connections with others? That seems to minimize the shame and discomfort associated with whatever you are talking about. When I finally admitted to other moms that I couldn’t breastfeed anymore - or that it would be the death of me - other moms talked to me about throwing that idea out the door - and embracing formula - and it comforted me. It helped me form a connection with other moms, and learn that I wasn’t alone- and that it was OK - that I wasn’t being judged, and that this concept of being a “good mom” in my head, was all bullshit.
Why did I feel as though if I couldn’t breastfeed my kid for a whole year exclusively - that I wasn’t a good mom?
Why do we associate being IMPERFECT with being INADEQUATE?
We have to embrace our imperfections - and embrace our authentic selves - we have to separate our behaviors (what we do) from WHO WE ARE at our core.
Authenticity is a practice. It's the choice to show up every day and be real. You have to let go of who you think you are supposed to be, and embrace who you are.
We have to practice being flexible (with ourselves).
We have to practice demonstrating perseverance (for me, that's not throwing in the towel on exercising for the day if I only have 20 minutes.)
And we have to tolerate some disappointment - YES I wanted to breastfeed for a year, I read the studies, I felt that it was a good decision for me - but it wasn’t entirely - and I had to be OK with that.
We have to be OK with SUFFICIENCY - with ENOUGH. And YOU are ENOUGH. I am ENOUGH - WE are all ENOUGH.
I find that perfectionism stems from this desire to be perceived a certain way - and it is all constructed in our heads. It also stems from comparison.
We constantly compare our #parenting, our #bodies, our #careers - our #success, our #trips, our #HAPPINESS. We think we SHOULD look a certain way, enroll our kids in certain sports activities, throw extravagant parties because everyone else - the list is endless ya’ll. We even compare our level of #EXHAUSTION - and use it as a status symbol - how ridiculous is that???
This list of “supposed to dos” runs constantly in our minds -
You are supposed to work out every day for an hour
You are supposed to cook dinner every night
Supposed to make your bed
Supposed to check in with all your friends
Supposed to have family dinners
Supposed to go to swimming practice, baseball, ballet….
I challenge you to ask yourself- what adds MEANING to your life? What adds QUALITY? Sometimes it might be a full hour-long workout- and sometimes it might a nap.
You have to ask yourself- when things are going well for YOU - what does that look like? When things are going well for your FAMILY- what does that look like?
For me, it's a balance of getting the necessary things done like - school/work but making the time for some fitness, for family walks, for QUIET TIME, and rest and reading.
I’m not going to lie- it's uncomfortable for me sometimes - it can feel challenging - it will feel challenging - you are breaking long set patterns of thought - it takes work - it takes self-awareness. But as Anna Quindlen says,
“The thing that is hard, and amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.”