Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Drive for Perfection?

I posted this over on the Lean Eating board on Precision Nutrition. I think it has a lot of good thoughts for me to reflect on and I thought it would be good to share on here too...

I have been doing a whole lot of thinking since starting this program. *whew* I have smoke coming out of my ears the wheels are turning so fast in my mind.

I have really been thinking about the "All or Nothing" mindset that I have had in the past. I am working hard to shatter those thought patterns. Not just in Lean Eating, but in all areas in my life. All or nothing thinking is a symptom of Perfectionism. Perfectionism is definitely something I suffer from. All or nothing, do more, be better, HAVE TO, SHOULD... These are the thoughts and words that drive me. I should do X, Y, Z. I have to do A,B,C. I should be better, I need to do more ____. I feel all this external pressure... yet really I think that pressure comes from within! Sure there are definitely outside pressures, but ultimately the driving force is internal. The FEAR of rejection, of being judged as unworthy, of being found unacceptable is what keeps me in the cycle. WHAT IF I'M NOT GOOD ENOUGH??? I MUST BE PERFECT. If I am not perfect, then I am a failure. No one will accept me.

These thoughts are something we'd hate to hear from a child or even a dear friend, yet we say them to ourselves in some form. Trying to be perfect and failing at that task is stressful. We can become anxious or depressed. I know I personally have experienced this.
Until these lessons came about I don't think I realized how deep I've been in the cycle. My standards for myself are unrealistic. The first time I had to say "No" I didn't properly do my habit, I almost freaked out. I thought about lying and saying I did. I didn't want to admit I "failed". But checking no and acknowledging that I was still "pretty good" was actually a relief. I knew I could try again the next day and Krista wasn't going to send me an email that said "YOU SUCK. YOU FAIL!" I think somewhere I was judged unfairly and maybe some unfair expectations were set. (Actually I know this to be true). So now, part of my journey is to work on ACCEPTING MYSELF. I am pretty good- and that is just fine! I will always try to be the best I can be, but I can't be perfect. No such thing exists! I can only be me- and I can only do my best. I also accept that not being perfect doesn't mean go to the other end of the line and be lazy.
I also put together a list of quotes to help keep me focused on my new belief system- the one that eliminates the word perfect from my vocabulary.

“Perfectionism may be the ultimate self-defeating behavior. It turns people into slaves of success—but keeps them focused on failure.” --Hara Estroff Marano

“Striving for excellence motivates you; striving for perfection is demoralizing.” – Harriet Braiker

“The pursuit of perfection often impedes improvement.”—George F. Will

“Excellence is the gradual result of always striving to do better.” –Pat Riley

“I am careful not to confuse excellence with perfection. Excellence, I can reach for; perfection is God's business.” –Michael J. Fox

“Excellence is not a skill. It is an attitude.” –Ralph Marston

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” --Aristotle

“Aim for success, not perfection. Never give up your right to be wrong, because then you will lose the ability to learn new things and move forward with your life.” –Dr. David M. Burns

“One of the most essential things you need to do for yourself is to choose a goal that is important to you. Perfection does not exist; you can always do better and you can always grow.” –Les Brown

So from here forward I am doing my best to strive for excellence, not perfection. I am also on the lookout for "All or Nothing" thought patterns that permeate my day.

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