I am a recovering perfectionist. I lived 25+ miserable years striving for the approval and validation of others and it took quite a toll on my peace of mind, physical health and professional growth. Despite having a thriving career and all of the outer trappings of success, I was unhappy. More than that, I was desperately ready for my life to change. Mainly because I wasn’t following my heart.
I learned the hard way that I gave away my power when I looked for success through greater and greater achievement. I eventually had to realize that my best was better than what others wanted or what I thought they wanted from me. Here I summarize some of the pearls of peaceful wisdom gained through self-reflection, meditation and personal development work.
Peace Pearl #1 : Follow the wisdom of your heart
One of the miraculous discoveries made during my recovery process is learning that I can trust my first flash of insight. Whether it relates to finding a good parking place to making a good decision for a client, my intuition and heart-sense are rarely wrong. I learned that I do not need to revise and tweak my work to ‘perfection.’ I can trust that the inspiration that pours forth during my work is right on target, and just what the inner doctor ordered.
Look at your own life and see if there is a pattern of over-thinking your decisions instead of trusting your first mind, your first heart-based impression. For the next week choose to be mindful and aware of your intuitive hits, your flash of insight and inspiration. Does your heart tell you to wear a certain outfit? Do you feel the need to eat a certain food for its health benefits?
For a week make note of the urges of mind and heart that come to you.
Now I’m not saying that all of them come from your heart. It may take you time to learn the difference between the reflexive habits of mind and the life-affirming nudges of the heart and soul. Little by little, from knowing when to answer the phone or let it go to voicemail, from accepting a social event invitation to gently declining in favor of ‘me time’, you will notice that your heart can lead you to make choices that are ‘best’ for your health, wellbeing and success.
Peace Pearl #2 : Unlearn Conformity
I’ve always been a little bit psychic, even as a child. I would never tell people that because I thought it was weird that I knew things before others did, or that I could sense new trends and occurrences without visible, physical facts. Instead of being labeled a ‘freak,’ I tried harder to fit in.
Conformity has a high price though. Being welcomed into the ‘in’ crowd often means giving up your personal ideals in favor of the majority. One quickly learns what one should and should not do for the continued acceptance and favor of others. Sometimes we forfeit our individuality and creative self-expression. Which is such a shame, since we each came to this lovely blue planet to share our unique presence with the world! Conforming to the various groups I was surrounded by led me to a profound depression. More on that here.
Beyond peer groups at school, once I entered the allopathic medical and surgical profession, the shoulds just got heavier and more pervasive. Naturally a doctor should cause no harm. That should comes easily. But the medical establishment in America, in particular, happened to force-feed some shoulds on me in such an insidious way that I took them on as if they were the holy gospel. I even came to believe that I shouldn’t question the big establishment — ie, the pharma industry and government agencies.
Until I couldn’t do it anymore. My conscience and inner knowingness pushed me to the edge — literally — where I questioned my very existence and identity.
Make note of times when you’ve felt pushed or ‘shoulded’ into doing something.
Did you regret it?
Peace Pearl #3 — Become self-aware
For the next 21 days notice every time you use the words “should” or “ought.” Whether spoken audibly or internally, we are often driven by urges that are not in line with our personal truth. That is, we’ve been programmed to do things out of obligation, for fear of being rejected, and out of a need to please others.
So notice when you think “Oh, I should call Jane back.”
Or “I should ______” (fill in the blank)
Ask yourself, gently, “Is it true?”
For most of my clients they find themselves weighed down with the self-imposed obligations that are not aligned with their true desires. And if you look at the root of the word ‘shoulder’ you find that it is ‘should.’ So no wonder we feel such a heavy burden on us!
Perfectionism isn’t really a disease, but it is a condition that robs many of us of our natural vitality and peace. I welcome your comments about putting these simple practices into play in your life!
All my best to you, Dr. Andrea
PS: To learn more about why self-love and authentic self-expression are so important to me, be sure to download my free e-book on how to Liberate & Love Your Authentic Self.
Originally published at medium.com