A theme that comes up in conversations with my clients very often is perfectionism. It’s so common that it seems to me that pretty much everyone suffers from it, including myself.
We weren’t born perfectionists. We became ones when, as children, we formed the belief that in order to receive love and acceptance from our caregivers, we had to meet certain performance standards, whether this was true or not.
We started believing that our worthiness was derived from what was outside ourselves and our self, as it was, wasn’t enough. We used perfectionism as an antidote for our shame-based thinking that had convinced us we were innately flawed.
As adults later on, we unconsciously replaced the role of our caregivers with the ‘Inner Critic’ in our head telling us that no matter how hard we try, no success or performance will ever be enough.
People often ask me how they can tell the difference between the voice of the Inner Critic they should ignore and our own, authentic voice we need to listen to.
The Inner Critic voice is often the loud one. It’s made up of automatic & repetitive thoughts that keep coming up, and reveal the areas of our lives that have been affected most by shame.
In my case, the theme of belonging would constantly come up (and sometimes still does) because the belief I had formed as a child was that no matter what I do, I will never belong. Perfectionism was the perfect cover up as it offered the illusion that if I am perfect, there will be no reason to not belong.
When we don’t heal our shame and always try to be perfect, we continue giving ourselves the same message we received as children – to belong, to be loved, we have to perform well. In other words, we engage in a shame-based loop & set ourselves standards that are impossible to reach, always ending up where we started & only to repeat the same cycles.
From experience, some of this information might trigger shame in some kind souls who’ve been through a lot. If you feel that way, remember that forming limiting beliefs as we grow up is a very natural mechanism that allows us to survive even in the most difficult circumstances. If today you identify as a perfectionist & feel ashamed of it or of anything else you had to become in order to survive, you’re not a loser or weak. You’re a miracle.
Now, how can you create space for your true voice to be heard? Start by building a simple routine that’s personal to you where you enjoy time with yourself only. Slow down either by meditating, deep breathing, or both. Once you’ve slowed down, ask yourself ‘what is my truth?’. See what response you’ll get. Write it down. Repeat as often as you can.
If you’re looking for writing prompts for inspiration, download a free copy of Your Life by Design Journal I’ve created for this reason here
Let me know what you think.
Love & grace,
Photo Credit: Hunters Race
Effie writes about and coaches people on Inner & Cultural Awakening helping them understand the connection between culture and our well-being, and build better lives based on a new self-awareness, while getting rid of biases that create separation between ourselves and others. She’s passionate about exposing the shame culture we live in and helping create one where everyone is and feels accepted, and the whole spectrum of human experience is normalised.