"The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself"
It isn't easy to loosen the grip on the controls of life. Couple that, with having a real honest look at yourself, and life can very quickly become unsettled. Yet underneath this uneasiness often sits a whole new layer filled with possibility and excitement just waiting to be unveiled.
I have first-hand experience with perfectionism. At times, it has been an incredible driving force that has pushed me to accomplish things that still to this day amaze me. Unfortunately, it has also served as an attractive disguise that has kept me safe from being vulnerable and open to showing up as the unique person I truly am.
I believe the desire to be 'perfect' is not all that uncommon. We are bombarded on a continual basis with information that is distorted. From airbrushed images plastered in magazines, websites and billboards, to unrealistic societal measures of what we are fed to believe success and happiness should look like - it is no wonder some of us enter into the world of rigidity and perfectionistic tendencies.
I entered into the realm of perfectionism mainly as a people pleasing tactic. I learned if I was careful to say and do just the right thing, then there wouldn't be an obvious reason why I shouldn't be accepted. Then I would be safe and nobody would tell me I was doing life wrong.
This is such a dangerous world to walk in, because while it initially feels good to be accepted and liked by the people we are surrounded by, it comes with an enormous cost - we sacrifice our authenticity and true spirit as a result. When we tie our worth to external sources, we discount our inner wisdom and disconnect from our truth.
It is extremely difficult to undo the actions and right the relationships that have been founded upon these false premises. I found it a real challenge when I began the journey of practicing using my authentic voice. It was difficult because what I had to say and share wasn't always well received by people around me, even some of the closest people. At first, it was much more appealing to revert back to saying what others wanted to hear and playing the part of the perfect friend, mother, daughter, wife etc., but over time it became harder and harder to ignore the person that was yearning to be set free.
The true spirit of who we are will steer us down the path that is best for us at the time. But, in order for this to actually happen, we must be willing to be honest with ourselves and be open to hearing our inner voice and deepest desires.
In order to travel down the path of authenticity and become who I truly am, I have had to release my grip on worrying what others may think or how they will view me. I have learned I am most settled when I honor my inner truth and lead my life from the inside out. It hasn't been easy and at times it is still a struggle, but the more I practice honoring my truth, the more liberated and at peace I feel.
On a day to day level, it means doing the things that bring me a sense of joy and fulfillment. Daily exercise is something I find extremely fulfilling. Whether it's running, yoga or getting out in nature, moving my body is like a daily renewal that leaves me feeling alive and well. As a busy Mom of two, it means carving out time, even if it is 30 minutes at the end of the day, devoted to something just for me.
Breaking free from the perfectionist mentality means not beating up on myself if I have a bad day or if things aren't unfolding as I expected or hoped. It also means reaching out to my trusted people who know and love me when I need that extra support.
Having the willingness to be honest with ourselves about what it is we truly need on a daily basis, is essential in overcoming the desire to be perfect or different than we really are.
Healthy boundaries is also a must when following our authentic path and breaking free from perfectionism. We teach others around us how to treat us. When we love who we are and recognize we are worthy as we are, we show up without expecting others to validate our worth. We show up without making apologies for who it is we authentically are. People will either see us or not - it's not really our business or concern. All we need to see, is who it is we truly are.
Breaking free from perfectionism is a journey in itself, but it's one that is so worth traveling down as it provides incredibly rich learning and joy. If you haven't already, I definitely recommend breaking free!
Emily Madill is the author of 11 books in the area of self-development and empowerment, both for children and adults. Her newest title 'Fall in Love with Your Life, One Week at a Time' is now being offered as an E-Course.
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