Tag Archives: Love Yourself

AWAKENING TO RELEASE OUR PERFECTIONISM

“It is easier to be better than you are than to be who you are. The point here is that perfection belongs to the gods; completeness or wholeness is the most a human being can hope for.” Marion Woodman Serene pool

Are you a perfectionist? Does that work well for you? Does it create problems with other people or your family? Do you see an advantage to letting go of it?

Why do we try to be perfect? Perhaps because somewhere in our lives we received the message that it was not acceptable to be anything less. In my case, I thought if I could do everything correctly that my parents wouldn’t scream so much, but of course they screamed at each other more than at me. Despite that, I felt I should be able to make my mother, especially, more happy.

High Expectations in Childhood Create Fear of Failure

The other part of it that came from my childhood was that my parents said I was special and intelligent; therefore, I should always make straight A’s in school and do things well. I shouldn’t waste my intelligence or talents but always do my best.

This made more of an impression on me than it might have because I was weak from illnesses and was a disaster playing any physical game at school—even simply throwing a ball. I needed to make up for that somehow and I did do very well in academics and reasonably well in music, especially singing.

We Want to Be Perfect Because We Want To Be Loved

Sadly, when we follow the perfectionist path in life, we are destined to fail often. We set our standards so high they are virtually impossible to attain and so we often feel inadequate. This disappointment is inevitable because as Marion Woodman points out “perfection belongs to the gods.”

Often the need for perfection is focused on external creations rather than going within to find ways to grow and evolve. We need to look perfect, do our jobs perfectly, find the perfect mate, say the perfect thing, and paint the perfect picture. We crave the love and attention that we believe will result from this, and we often do not see the connection between our trying to be perfect and our failure in relationships and other areas of our lives.

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Becoming Whole Is More Important Than Being Perfect

This pursuit often takes us away from what is most important—becoming whole and complete as our true selves because this journey requires us to take chances. If we take a chance, we may fail—it’s very risky and it conjures up an enormous amount of fear. We have to go within and there are no clear guidelines for succeeding. We have to rely on our very unconcrete intuition.

Pursuing perfection in many areas of our lives will often lead us to moments when we are confronted with how unhealthy or stressful our pursuit really is. These times are opportunities that offer us the possibility of change, moments when we can see there is a connection between what is not going well in a relationship or with our health and the demands we make on ourselves.

Health Challenges May Teach Us Lessons

In the late 90s I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. My adrenals were depleted, my cortisol levels were off the chart, and I was vitamin and enzyme deficient. I lived in New Orleans, down river from chemical plants and in a climate where mold thrived. Most doctors didn’t acknowledge the existence of the syndrome at that time, but I found a doctor in Tucson who specialized in treating this naturally and whose plan had been helpful to a friend of mine.

I spent several days at the Tucson clinic with many different practitioners. The phrase they kept repeating to me was “you’re being too hard on yourself.” When the therapist there told me I needed to be kinder to myself, I insisted, “I don’t feel like I’m so hard on myself—I just want to do things well. Why is that a bad thing?”

“It’s a matter of degree,” he said and recommended I read The Spirituality of Imperfection. I felt so overwhelmed that I broke down in tears. He continued, “Remember, there’s always light in the darkness, and even if it’s a small glimmer, pay attention to it.”  (Awakening to the Dance: A Journey to Wholeness, p. 186)

Releasing Our Perfectionism Frees Us

By the time I left the clinic, I was able to see some of the ways that perfectionism was harming me. I was dedicated to healing naturally, and that was a major challenge because I had to change my diet, take many supplements at different times, and be in bed at 9:00 pm every night. In addition, I had to continue teaching so I could afford the treatment.

Chronic-Fatigue

This journey of healing took me inside the deepest part of myself and I had to let go of so many things I had thought were absolutely necessary and fed my perfectionism. At first I felt deprived by having to eat only healthy, organic food, but with time it became a satisfying habit. I became adept at reading food labels to avoid preservatives, sugar, and all chemicals.

I revived my meditation practice and read spiritual and inspirational books. I became used to not going out at night and had long conversations with two friends who also had chronic fatigue. I began recording my dreams which often revealed significant messages.   Within two years, I was significantly better and within four years I was completely healed. Unfortunately, others I knew healed much more slowly. I was blessed.

Releasing Perfectionism Is An Internal Journey

Throughout this process, I learned to accept my imperfections and to love myself despite them. Most significantly, I learned to ask others for help when I needed it and not feel I was a failure because I couldn’t completely take care of myself. Although the process of healing often frustrated me, I learned I had no alternative but to release those feelings. Hanging on to anger and frustration only made me feel worse.

If we are wise, we will recognize there is a difference between pursing perfectionism and simply doing something well. One often distresses us and those around us while the other brings delight to all. By developing those aspects of ourselves that complete us and make us whole, we are honoring our most sacred selves, and we learn to love ourselves. After all, wanting to be loved is often why we pursue perfectionism. By nurturing our spiritual cores we are developing our wholeness and that is an inspiring journey.

What has been the most important part of your journey to become whole?  Please share a comment.

© 2015 Georganne Spruce

Related Articles:  Loving Yourself: Getting Beyond Approval and Perfectionism (video)

AWAKENING TO LOVE ALL WE ARE

“The supreme happiness in life is the conviction that we are loved–loved for ourselves, or rather, loved in spite of ourselves.”  Victor Hugo

Denver 018 Do you ever feel that you aren’t loving enough?  Do you feel that you are a failure if you don’t do everything perfectly?  Do you feel that you can’t be loved for who you really are?

We all need to feel we are loved, and that we are loved despite our imperfections, but often we set standards for ourselves and others that only create more stress and problems.  At times we set goals or expectations that are impossible to meet, and when we or our friends don’t meet them, it damages our self-esteem and relationships.

Expecting Perfection Can Be Harmful

We all have ideas about the perfect relationship.  We may even have a list of requirements that a potential partner or friend must have, but inevitably, if these standards are too high, we are setting up ourselves and our partner for failure.  Ultimately what we really want is to be able to make mistakes and still be loved and respected.

Growing up, my parents had high expectations for me.  I was intelligent, so they expected me to make A’s in school, which I often did.  They also taught me to be kind and respectful to others and not to do or say things that would hurt others.  As a Southern woman, my role was to take care of others, make them feel good, and put my needs last.

There was a lot of conflict between my parents so I developed the idea that I needed to do everything perfectly to prevent any further conflict.  When I achieved what they wanted, I was rewarded with praise.  This was before the days when parents bribed their children into doing what they wanted in order to receive toys or electronics.

Setting Standards Of Perfection May Cause Illness

I felt very nervous and fearful much of the time because my parents’ conflict was disturbing to me, and sometimes I was punished for what was a fairly small thing because they were so on edge.  As a result I became a perfectionist well into adulthood.  I experienced a great deal of anxiety around trying to meet high standards in school, relationships, and in work, and with time this stress contributed to my developing Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

When we expect too much from ourselves or others, we will inevitably be disappointed at some point.  Stress caused by any condition affects our health in a negative way, but I didn’t realize the harm I was creating for myself until I attended a clinic where every health practitioner with whom I spoke told me not to be so hard on myself.  Fortunately, they convinced me my perfectionist thinking was not healthy.

We Need To Accept Ourselves As We Are

At first, I was angry that they wanted me to lower my high standards.  I was proud of having high standards and trying to be a really good person, but I had so little energy, I had no choice but to change.  Having to limit my activity forced me to go deeper and explore why I needed to be so perfect.  The more I explored this idea, the more I realized I thought I wouldn’t be loved or liked if I didn’t meet these expectations.

As I moved from believing things had to be done in a certain way to being more open and flexible, I learned to say “no” to situations that were too stressful or not truly beneficial.  As I stopped expecting perfection from myself, I realized how difficult life could be for others and grew more empathetic.  I learned to expect less from others.  I also learned to accept my imperfections while also trying to change some things for the better without judging every step I took.

Loving Ourselves Helps Us To Love Others

I learned to love who I was—even when I was able to do little of what I wanted to do.  I learned to love myself as I was.  I knew I was doing the best I could everyday despite it being less than I had previously done.  As I recovered from the illness, I came to value well-being so much that it became my priority, not what I achieved in the eyes of the world.

Learning to love ourselves compassionately teaches us how to love others, and what we all want most is to be loved for who we really are.  As I came to love myself more, I was able to love more generously and accept others’ irritating qualities with more compassion.  I learned to love them for who they truly were.

The most wonderful love we can experience is with someone who really knows us and accepts our eccentricities and difficult aspects.  We know that we do not have to be perfect—that we can be human and make mistakes and still be loved.  It also gives us an opportunity to grow in our love, to say, “Well, I didn’t handle that well, but I can do better the next time,” and to take the time to contemplate a more effective or caring response to the problem that arose.

Love comes From Within Not From Without

I’ve met many people who do not love themselves, and in order to prove to themselves that they are loving, they exhaust themselves doing good deeds for others.  However, when we act in this manner, we aren’t acting from love; we are acting from a wounded ego.  When we do for others out of love, we do not feel we have to ignore our own needs, and we balance our time between taking care of ourselves and caring for others.

With the exception of abuse, we may grow by learning to accept aspects of our partners and friends that don’t always please us.  Of course, there are always limits to what is healthy and appropriate in a relationship, but if there truly is enough there to make the relationship good, we need to exercise the effort to accept and hopefully understand those things about our partner that irritate us and have compassion for their struggle.

Wholeness Includes Loving All Of Who We Are

In talking with friends who have been married many years, I am always impressed with how they have grown together, adjusting and changing as needed to make the relationship more workable for both.  But it is clear that the one thing that holds them together is this—they know they are each loved for who they truly are, for their best qualities and their most irritating ones.

Learning to give to others what we want in return tends to draw to us that same energy.  One of the most profound thoughts I’ve read in Oneness by Rasha is this:  “The key to the self-mastery that is so fervently sought by you who are so keenly aware of your process of evolution, is not to love yourself despite your perceived shortcomings—but rather, to love yourself because of them.  In your embracing of all that you Are…is the unconditional gift of wholeness that awaits you.”  (p. 238)

These challenges we face in relationships reveal to us aspects of ourselves we may rather not see; yet they offer us opportunities for growth and challenges in loving ourselves and others.  Let us learn to love all of who we are and share that understanding and love with others.  Only love will heal the world.

© 2013 Georganne Spruce                                                      ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles:  How To Love Yourself, Wayne Dyer – Looking For Love, Self-Love: A Definition