More on Imperfection
Copyright © 2018 Rosie Bank
Perfectionism is over-rated. It can be stressful, unreasonable, and unrealistic. Since perfectionism is often unattainable, trying to achieve it can make it painfully difficult to accomplish just about anything in your life.
Learn three keys to overcome perfectionism, to embrace imperfection, and to be your own best support person to get and stay on track with your body and your health.
I know sometimes we say, “Oh, this is perfect!” That is a feel-good emotion and brings a great wave of joy and satisfaction. Even though the experience of perfection happens, still, we ought not be run by it as an expectation that we hang over our own heads. In fact, I’m pretty darn good at being quite imperfect. Accepting my imperfection helps me get stuff done and feel happy with the results. At least, accepting my inevitable imperfection helps me a lot in terms of getting through the day without landing in my own prison of self-criticism and damnation. Case in point. I just created an email to my new local community. In fact, this was The Big Announcement for an upcoming talk I will be giving on longevity and anti-aging. I had been anticipating making this announcement via email for weeks. In fact, this was the first time I announced my services to the new community where my husband and I now live. We moved here in December. This felt significant to me.
Today was the big day. I was giving myself all kinds of positive self-talk about how organized I was, how I had crafted a friendly and informative invitation, and how much I felt and believed in the value of what I was offering. And then, BAM! I accidentally hit send with un-fixed formatting problems in the body of the email. (Thank God I did not send it with visible email addresses and without blind-copying the recipients. More about this later…)
So, I sent an imperfect email as my big announcement to this community where I plan on being received and welcomed as a Health Coach. Yikes, right? After I did this, I went through the entire process from the beginning, corrected the formatting errors, and inserted a line with “Sorry, slip of the finger. Here is the correct intended email.”
It is interesting to note that I could have derailed myself then and there with negative and critical self-talk. Isn’t it easy to imagine how much more difficult and painful it would have been to send out the correction had I beat myself up for the mistake?
Are you beginning to relate to my story?
How does this relate to you around food, drink, wellness choices, your weight, and any other topics that are important to you in this arena?
I thought of you, darling reader, immediately after I sent out the revised email. Raise your hand if you struggle with perfectionism. And perhaps even more personally, ask yourself if you spend any time during the day (um… a lot of time during the day?) being your own worst critic. Since on this blog we discuss wellness strategies, let’s drill down and see if there are better ways of “recovering” from “mistakes”. Let’s assume that your intentions around food, drink, exercise, and living a balanced life are as strong as my intention was to send a perfect email. And while we are at it, let’s assume that, like me, on occasion, you screw up.
I’m not of the persuasion to sugar-coat the fact that on occasion we make a mistake. Let’s call it what it is. I can imagine myself or you, for example, feeling a little bit uncomfortable after a delicious meal. You know one of those meals where we should have stopped a few bites ago? I think it is a mistake to over eat, to stuff ourselves. I know the consequences of doing that, the unpleasant feelings that come along with that. This is why I rarely do it. Notice I did not say never.
Thank you imperfection! I highly, highly, highly recommend the book, The Gifts of Imperfection, by Brené Brown. I am happy to give this author heartfelt credit and gratitude for inspiring me to join the ranks of people who she calls wholehearted. I love this word. This means that we don’t bale on ourselves. We don’t overly focus on our imperfection to the point that we render ourselves incapable of making a good choice on the heels of a bad one.
An error in judgement is a kind way of describing, for example, choosing highly processed/grease and salt-laden fast food over a veggie salad for dinner. Sometimes I hear my clients beat themselves up for making poor choices. However, when they switch their mindset and call their behavior an error in judgement, this helps remove the burning debilitating criticism by interpreting their actions. An error in judgement describes their behavior. If we were to make this about you, let’s say you can or have heard yourself use horrible, self-condemnation, harsh ways of describing your personality. “I am stupid and a failure and I will never lose this weight” (ouch) carries a much heavier burden than observing and describing your behavior. For example, what I did with the email was a mistake. Period. I knew not to go down the dark alley of disparaging myself as a person, or as a businesswoman, or as a coach.
Here are three keys to overcome perfectionism, to embrace imperfection, and to be your own best support person to get and stay on track with your body and your health.
- Listen to your self-talk. With practice, you can become sensitive to the harsh vibrations of criticism and condemnation. You may notice a stiffening of your body. A heaviness in your head. I don’t know how you will recognize these vibrations but you will. This is the point where you flex your self-encouraging positive self-talk and call yourself off the ledge. Choose different words to tell yourself. Did you know that there is a 12-step program to recover from perfectionism that includes positive self-talk?
- Distinguish between felonies and misdemeanors. Don’t wander too far off your own path. My remark above about not sending the email out with open addresses describes a situation where I felt like I dodged a bullet. My own discomfort with the formatting errors (a figurative misdemeanor) would have been amplified had I exposed everyone’s email address (a figurative felony). Regarding your own choices around food, drink, sleep, exercise, and creating harmony in your life, stay as close to your path as possible. It is much harder and more painful to recover from a felony. This is why you would be very smart to avoid them. Having one too many desserts do not have to throw you. You can get back on track. (Not that I am recommending this, c’mon now…) Gorging through an entire box of cookies over several nights in a row could knock you out.
- Put things into perspective. I remember those dark days, long ago in my past, when I used to abuse food to the point of making myself sick. When I did this, my consciousness was flooded with my own horrible thoughts about myself, my life, and my unworthiness. Now that I can look back, one thing I did not know then, but I see now, was how much importance I put on all of this focus. Assume for a moment that you can take my suggestion in number two above, and stay close to your path, even if you step off on occasion. If you do, remember that your actions are not important enough for you to make your own federal case. Okay, so you screwed up. Or, more gently, you had an error in judgement. Please do not confuse this with the world any longer spinning on its axis. Get back to life. Work to haul your focus away from your self-absorption toward something that helps others or contributes artistically, politically, or socially. Look up. Play a bigger game than your own woe-is-me preoccupation. I don’t mean to be unkind in suggesting this to you. This insight, as I mentioned, comes from recalling my own foibles. Clearly, I did not have these tools back then. In fact, the moment I broke free and made healthy choices and consistent self-nourishment what my life was about, happened as a result of being able to look beyond my own inner, troubled world to what lay beyond.
Here is a bonus tip. Love, love, love yourself. This is the predominant theme in Health Matters Coaching. Love your body. Get your body to love you back. Practice this like your life depended on it. And, oh yeah… it does.
Join me in the ranks of the wholehearted, thank you Brené Brown. We don’t bale on ourselves. We love ourselves no matter what. And then, you will see, it is so much easier and more natural to make life and health-enhancing choices. And if you don’t, remember that imperfection is to be embraced and perfectionism is overrated.
Rosie Bank is Board Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and the founder of Health Matters Coaching. She is the author of the book, Health Matters. Rosie is a graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and is certified by The Center for Nutrition Studies (e-Cornell) in Plant Based Nutrition. Rosie is an international speaker, blogger, and the founder of Health Matters podcast. She is certified as a Nutrition and Wellness Consultant through the American Fitness Professional Association and as a Nutrition Advisor through Sanoviv Medical Institute. Rosie founded The Vitality Club in Brentwood, CA in 2018.
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