With deepening intention of sharing illuminating, alleviating, and elevating Lyme mindset healing ideas with precious you, here’s ‘Imperfecting.’
Dealing with perfectionism is an aspect of inner healing that may assist bodily healing?
Sounds kinda far fetched. Except – uh, this helped me.
So here goes in hopes it does for you too.
“Perfectionism is not about striving for excellence or healthy striving. It’s … a way of thinking and feeling that says [to us, we] can avoid or minimize shame, blame, and judgment” per Brene Brown to Oprah on Super Soul Sunday & Lisa Capretto on HuffPost.
Oprah says “perfectionism is the ultimate fear… Perfectionists… are ultimately afraid that the world is going to see them for who they really are and they won’t measure up.”
Perfectionism’s this invisible forcefield we use for safety yet, really, it’s preventing us from being seen, heard, and loved for who we truly are.
As beautiful, Imperfect humans doing the best we know-how – on our journeys through Lyme.
Perfectionism’s dark side wasn’t remotely on my mind until 10 years into Lyme, my inward and upward exploration began.
In time and with therapy, realizations dawned.
Fear of rejection which meant detrimental people-pleasing, shame AKA belief in a fear that I was, well, not ever quite good enough, and fear that chronic illness was my failure … had been simmering unconsciously.
Plus, fear that if others saw me for the true me, well, they’d find unworthiness. Ugh – albeit true.
Perfectionism drove harsh self-criticism, attempts to wall myself off from others, control feelings, and habitual busy-ing prior to Lyme.
Perfectionism showed up during Lyme as ‘why aren’t I good enough to heal?’ or “I’m failing at conquering this disease” per Virant – which caused stress and anxiety-driven by fear, fear, fear.
The Effects of Chronic Fear on a Person’s Health (ajmc.com) are no joke. Ranging from immune, endocrine, and autonomic nervous systems dysfunction to sleep disruptions to spiritual distrust/despair. And more. Wild, eh?
With unpredictable Lyme, perfectionistic control – or the illusion – I had in my business and life before Lyme went out the door.
Plus I internally beat myself up over being sick. “This self-criticism creates stress-induced harm to physical and psychological well-being” per research by Molnar, et al per Kate Willard Virant, MSW, JD, LCSW in ‘Perfectionism and Chronic Illness’ in Psychology Today.
So when perfectionizing, what’s there to do?
Perhaps consider these ideas that helped me:
• Easy’s key for real, loving change to help our dear selves. Kind note to self: change is a choice. Sigh, and, yay – as our power lies there,
• Notice, Rate, Strategy or N.R.S. – is an easy-ish 3-step method I created to reduce perfectionism and lean into being an Imperfect, authentic human by…
• Step 1 – Notice:
That perfectinizing is on the scene.
“The Process of behavior change always starts with awareness. You need to be aware of your habits before you can change them” per James Clear in Atomic Habits.
This requires “putting a small moment of space [a Pause] between the immediate feeling and your instinctive reaction. [This] … allows [s] you … to stay present and ultimately regain control,” per Oprah Winfrey & Dr. Perry’s What Happened to You?
Pausing – even for a second – allows for noticing ‘signs.’ Feelings, thoughts, or behaviors – that Perfectionism’s driving.
Signs I’m perfectionizing are a clenched, tense stomach and/or shoulders up to my ears like when scrutinizing overly long on unimportant details – and my mind’s a self-critiquing dust storm.
I like to call myself out (verbally or within) with ‘I’m perfectionizing!’ to help shift gears to Step 2.
• Step 2 – Rate it:
In intensity and ability to clearly think or act either with ‘easy enough’ or ‘too hard’.
‘Too hard’ = I can’t deal, biting a head off could happen, or a choice’ll worsen instead of improving a situation. It can feel like inner hollering, blaming, or criticism.
‘Easy enough’ = not really stressed and action, with a mostly clear head, feels doable. Once rated, it’s on to…
• Step 3 – Strategy:
There are strategies for ‘too hard’ or ‘easy enough’.
‘Too hard’ rating? Pause. Then options include praying/meditating, waiting for the emotion to die down, going silent, or taking some Distance. To reduce the ‘hard’ factor. As stress goes down, another action becomes possible.
Pausing allows for breathing, stepping away, and/or thinking before replying … even through gritted teeth. This may prevent causing more damage in a tough time. Wiser choices feel harder with strong emotions. Pausing allows for decisions after considering emotional and rational sides.
‘Easy enough’ ratings can have Imperfecting strategies applied like:
*Experimenting* – take a risk and try something we long to do. Where there may be wrong-ness, mistakes made, or even – failure. I know. Gasp. When that happens, we can aim to say “Hey, I discovered something!” per Jean Pierre Beugoms, in Adam Grant’s Think Again to reframe an oops into something (anything!) more beneficial,
*Gray thinking/Rethinking* – It’s trying on various perspectives. Exploring different even whacky-sounding ideas. Being open to thinking in various shades of gray to slowly expand or open the mind, reducing rigid or black and white, extreme thinking. The table game can help. Place a problem in the middle of a table, sit in each seat to literally look at it from different angles,
*One small step* – Taking itty-bitty, teeny-weeny 1 steps (atta time) can reduce procrastinating or fear of not ‘getting it right,’
*Take Breaks* – To be kind and compassionate to dear you. Perhaps a walk mid-day (even down the driveway counts), 2 minutes of meditating or praying wherever, or a pup walk to the end of the short street. This can reduce stress and generally improve mood. Even if just slightly. Every bit counts.
• N.R.S.ing is Imperfect and isn’t a quick fix. It can feel awkward, uncomfortable, or unnatural. With commitment, practice, and bit by bit-ing. It’s an up annnnnd down process yet progress to reduce fears is possible, and
• Falling off the N.R.S. horse in a messy fashion and getting back on = part of the deal. Which is truly ok, friend.
Treasures that arise from cultivating Imperfect N.R.S.ing may be flexibility, tolerance, and patience. And, gradually and incrementally, more peace and less fear.
With time, effort, and again/again/againing, N.R.S.ing can aid in living more like an authentic, Imperfect, and beautiful being. An even more true, worthy you can blossom.
As Leonard Norman Cohen wrote: “There is a crack, a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”
Cheers and such love to exquisite you – with hope for potentially increased freedom from what no longer quite serves and/or quieter within. Oooooh, Divine,