Well, it’s my third day back at my job as a college counselor after having eight weeks off for the summer. There are the usual demands (such as clients to counsel, support groups to organize/facilitate, workshops to plan/run, interns to train, calendars to manage) and new jobs to learn (such as coordinating our campus’s Alcohol and Other Drug Program while our fearless Coordinator is on maternity leave). Add to that my first graduate level class in a Pastoral Counseling certificate program and my continued efforts to finish editing a book that my partner and I are working on and you can understand why my inner critic is now working overtime with the “You’re not good enough, smart enough, efficient enough…” talk. (And the only thing “good enough” is “perfect”!)
One thing I worked hard to relinquish during my recovery from Binge-Eating Disorder was PERFECTIONISM. It never served me well. In fact, perfectionism only served to increase my anxiety, distract me from my goals, and dissuade me from making friends and from even trying new things. When I let go of perfectionism related to my weight and shape, I was able to take life one moment at a time, one meal/snack at a time, and enjoy my body for what it can do in this moment. That didn’t happen overnight, but it’s now rare that I wake up feeling “not good enough” in terms of my weight and shape. I can more easily tell myself, “I listen to my body’s needs. That’s all I can do.”
However, letting go of perfectionism as it relates to my work ethic seems to be a more difficult and ongoing task. Today I opened up a desk drawer and found an affirmation I had written a year ago: “I do not need to prove myself to anyone.” Wow. I’m still working on that. For some reason, I still conflate my self-worth and my achievements (no matter how much I can objectively say I’ve already achieved with my life). If the work isn’t good enough, then I’m not good enough. Letting go of “Is it (the work) good enough?” is easier than letting go of the associated thought, “Am I good enough?”
None-the-less, those of you who know me know I’m determined to keep trying, working, and learning whatever lessons life has to teach me. My difficulty letting go of perfectionism is just another opportunity to keep trying and helps me stay focused on the present moment.
Here’s hoping you, too, can let go of any perfectionist thoughts you’re retaining!
Peace, joy, and health,