Wholeness Healing Today

Perfectionism, Practice, Permission

Many of us are conditioned, trained, wrought with high expectations early on, which often become internalized expectations of perfection. We continue to work hard, to measure up, to “do” as opposed to “be”, often saying “YES” when we want to say “NO”. Perfectionists strive to be the best, to always do more, to go above and beyond, to ignore own personal needs while striving to help others, to make a good impression on someone, or to live up to perceived expectations, often at a great physical, mental and emotional cost. Once we identify the motivation behind the drive to perfection (can be a part of the victim triangle, pleasing a narcissist, working hard to prove “I am enough”, or other compelling reasons), we can then look at how we got there, what keeps us there, and how do we move from that spot into taking healthier personal choices, setting boundaries and asking for what we need.

Perfectionists may have some obsessive behaviors, implemented to manage some anxiety or to control their own fears of failure. They may actually have some self-defeating behaviors, so no expectation is set into play. They may be critical of others, or compare themselves to others, often seeming to have an elevated sense of ego, while internally living in some self-doubt. They may work continuously, non-stop, always stepping up, always going the “extra mile”, always available to help others. That is, they run themselves ragged until they can no longer continue physically, or until they begin to learn, accept, and welcome their own self-worth, which brings us to the next “P” of this article, Practice.

As a therapist, I often encourage clients to identify and eliminate their “shoulds”, as a way of deciding the driving force behind the behaviors. At that point, I ask them to consider how they want their lives to be different, what they would like to be doing for themselves, and what they feel deserving of. The last one is tough, as people are often reluctant to identify feelings associated with deserving, as too often that has been tied to selfishness or self-centeredness. But what if that is a good thing, that to begin to “practice” some balance, identifying what we need as opposed to what others need, is the first step into re-claiming our identity, our own right and responsibility towards ourselves. No one can fill up our cup as well as we can, and we can’t fill others’ cups if ours are empty. So gently, we must begin the “practice” of identifying what we need, implementing self-care, welcoming and embracing those accompanying feelings of joy from within, often moving into the next “P”, which I label as Permission.

To totally move away from perfectionism, we have to be ready to give ourselves permission to do things differently. The way we learned and have been doing worked for a while; in fact, those strategies got us to this place, right here and now. Those coping skills and behaviors worked for us then, not so much now. What does it look like moving forward, into practicing “being” okay with who we are, giving ourselves permission to think our thoughts, feel our feelings, really drop into “being enough” just as we are, loving ourselves wholly and whole-heartedly. What if we gave up pretense and illusion, ideas of grandeur and perfection, and loved ourselves in our own humanity?

When we “do our work”, we are able to lessen our hold on the loud and arrogant ego. What if we give ourselves greater permission to embrace the quiet ego within, to “allow” things to move as they will, without interference, without expectation, without manipulation? Perhaps the biggest permission to give ourselves is not to be tied to the outcome, but to stay in our integrity, to welcome and honor our thoughts and feelings, to validate our own spirit, and to love our own soul. If we give ourselves permission just to “be”, we can then move forward with only good intention, with high integrity, feeling the love within and sharing the love outwardly. Now is the Perfect time to identify any Perfectionistic behaviors, begin to Practice increased self-love, and give yourself Permission to move into loving and embracing all that you are!

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  • Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioner
    Licensed Professional Counselor
    Advanced Clinical HypnoTherapist

  • Deb England began working part-time for Wholeness Healing Center in September 2004 and began full-time in May 2005. Deb practices primarily in the Broken Bow office and one day a week in the Grand Island office. Previously she had completed her practicum and internship at Morning Star Alliance, working in the Broken Bow and Grand Island offices.


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