It’s amazing to me after all of this time living – I know I’m not that old, but still – that being “perfect” still has its hold over me. After a night of no sleep due to worrying if I said the right thing at the right time, if I was “too much” somehow for one person or another, and then battling each stupid thought as it came into my brain with a, “let it go,” “you’re doing the best you can,” or “God, please take all of this from me, because I simply can’t handle it myself,” I am here with my hair sticking out in every direction, one cup of coffee into my morning and writing out how imperfect I actually am.
I am not an easy breezy person. I take most things way too seriously. I am extremely hard on myself. I have a million goals and I work tirelessly to see them through to the end. I even told my husband last year when he urged me to take a break and relax for a bit that I feel like I just don’t have enough time in this lifetime to get it all done, so maybe a five-minute break would suffice?
That being said, when good ol’ Perfectionism decides to come for a visit and has taken to lounging on the arm chair of my mind, there a few things I do to acknowledge it for what it is and shoo it off on its merry way. Because, if you know me at all, you know that I am always working to let my best Self shine, and urge others to do the same, and that best Self has nothing to do with the word, “perfect.” Here’s how I deal:
Sit with it for a bit and acknowledge why it’s making a visit right now. Did someone throw out some standard that doesn’t even make sense that you now have to try and live up to? Did someone make a claim about your worth? Are you finding yourself comparing yourself to others? These are the big questions to consider. And, they all come from the thoughts that YOU think about YOU. Yes, there are external forces out there, but, no, they do not have the power to determine your own self-worth in your mind. You are doing that. If someone made you feel small or less than, you decided to let them. And, most of the time, they didn’t intend to. You might have taken their words the wrong way. If this person creates this kind of dynamic for you most weeks, they are not good people for you. Start to make an exit strategy. If it happens every once in a while, it’s probably, to some extent, you and your own self-esteem you are grappling with. Figure out which is which and move forward appropriately.
Talk to a good friend about it, so I can see how ridiculous it sounds when you actually say what’s going on or what triggered your perfectionism. When I get anxious about living up to some model or trying to be more than I already am, the best therapy for me is to say what’s playing in a constant loop in my head out loud. Find someone that is your safe space to do this. If you don’t have a friend like this, find a therapist. Saying it out loud lets you release the feeling of trying to be so damn perfect all of the time, and lets you be real instead. And you get to have a good laugh once the words have been said. Laughing is the best.
Know that you don’t need to ever prove your perfection to anybody. There is no one out there you need to be “more” for. People need you to show up and be your Self. When people are their own authentic selves, they give permission for others to be their best Self, too. Remember that.
Take a break from social media and from any lap top work. Social media does NOT make life better when you feel challenged by perfectionist thoughts. Take a break, shut it down, put limits on your phone. Go live your life. Look around at the amazing people that are right there in front of you and have a real conversation.
Go to yoga and practice instead of try. This is a big one. Bikram Yoga especially seems to attract very “Type A” perfectionist people. Yes, yoga will make you feel better, but not if you get on your mat and beat your Self up for every fall, or wobble, or good-God-will-my-body-ever-get-this-posture thought. Know that it is a practice and that is all you have to do. There will never be a performance. The practice simply uncovers the YOU under all the layers you’ve created to make other people happy. Just practice and let the yoga magic unfold.
Give it up to God. A simple, “Please help,” thrown out to the Universe has the power to heal. When I can’t shake a thought or situation that pulled out the worst in me, there is no other place to put it, but in a Higher Power’s hands.
These methods have taken years to develop and step in to. Take this from the girl that tried to bend to every person’s will of what she “should” be, or what she thought they wanted her to be for so long, she almost did break. We all in some way want to be perfect, or at least appear perfect, but really perfect is such a lie and waste of time. And honestly... it’s quite boring. It holds you back from living. That’s what I came here to do: live. And I’m not going to let one glorious moment go to waste trying to be something that I’m not. Neither should you.
Onward, yogis! Have a great week…
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