Let’s Celebrate Being Good Enoughby Elise Museles
I am celebrating today! Nope, it’s not my birthday or wedding anniversary or graduation or any of those usual milestones we typically recognize… I am celebrating that one year ago this week, I wrote the blog post where I admitted my struggles with perfectionism. You may be thinking, who cares… but stay with me a little longer because the message and the story behind it changed the course of my life… and I’m pretty comfortable saying that it might have an impact on you or some other important women in your life.
You see, when I wrote When Perfect Is Not So Perfect, it was one of the most difficult things I had done publicly. First, I had to come to terms with my own journey with perfectionism and think about how my tendencies permeated almost every facet of my life. It interfered with my relationship with food, my body, my work, my family, my exercise regimen, my plans, and so on. And even more so, I realized that I had been living with the iron grip of perfectionism for as long as I can remember. Ouch.
But here’s what you don’t know: I wrote the article four months before I sent it out. I had it sitting on my desktop, even proofed it 27 (or more) times to make sure it was…dare I say, perfect. But I couldn’t bring myself to hit publish. How could I show my flaws and (gasp!) imperfections?
So back to the celebration part…well, since the decision to reveal my truths, I’ve never looked back. Because sharing who you really are, deep down to the core, and exposing your vulnerabilities is the key ingredient to creating connections. Once I sent out that post, there were floods of emails and people saying: “Me too!” “That’s me.” “I feel like you were in my head.” “Wow, it’s comforting to know that I’m not alone.”
Writing about my personal story made things real… for my community, for the people close to me, and for myself. As a perfectionist, I was not only able to back off and embrace that I am human, flaws and all, but I also came to understand that being in a perpetual state of trying to be superhuman was and never has been achievable nor sustainable. Phew.
This isn’t just about me and what I have discovered about myself. Since that day, I have made it my mission to help women learn to soften their painfully high standards and find a healthy balance of discipline & freedom. (I know. It’s definitely a tall order!)
Perfectionism is rampant:
- It was evident in my son when he was 5-years-old and in his brilliance refused to read out loud because he didn’t want to sound out the syllables. With his all or nothing approach, if the words didn’t easily flow from one to the next, he wouldn’t read at all.
- I identify with the woman who gets on the scale, sees a slightly higher than usual number, and lets a piece of metal dictate her mood (and self-worth) for the rest of the day.
- I recognize it in my beautiful, thin and caring client, a busy mother of four, who analyzes every morsel of food and beats herself up for even wanting a piece of pizza. After all, she believes that she is more “enlightened” than that.
- I see it in the 9-year-old girl who spends hours putting forth her best effort on a beautifully written paper and turns to her mom and says, “Mommy, is this good enough?”
- I feel the pain of the countless number of women who fear putting on a bathing suit and showing their bodies in public and assume the whole world will be staring at their thighs.
- I observe the teenagers who feel less than when they don’t look like the models or have the lives of the celebrities portrayed in the media.
- I sympathize with the entrepreneurs, who in spite of their passion and creative fire, are stuck, even paralyzed, and having trouble getting their ideas out into the world until they dot every “i” and cross every “t”.
- And, mostly, it’s ingrained in the mentality of our culture where feeling not pretty enough, smart enough, thin enough, creative enough, successful enough, fast enough, funny enough…<fill in the blank> enough is the norm.
So, I ask you to take a good hard look, whether it is a deeper dive inside yourself or noticing your daughter, best friend, mother, sister or all the other women in your life. Because what you’ll see is that this mindset of not good enough-ness and striving to be perfect… it’s everywhere. And it’s affecting our sleep, our hormones, our waistlines, and most importantly, our relationships & quality of life.
I am here to say: it doesn’t have to be like this. And I have a feeling you might agree. Let’s begin…
Right now, scan the areas of your life where you notice an internal struggle and think about the different ways that the self-imposed pressure shows up in your kitchen, on the scale, in the mirror, and in every other realm. Really examine whether it is deserving of your time & attention. Is it creating stress? Is it preventing you from experiencing pleasure? And, start to imagine releasing and letting go of the things that are not serving you.
Remember: you are good enough. You have everything you need. Every single day. Let that truth keep you focused as you continue examining the role perfectionism plays in your life.
Question of the day: Can you see how this self-created stress might be affecting your health, your body, your relationships and your life? Have you been able to overcome this pressure and invite peace & ease into your life? Share your stories & insights below.