Shout Out to all my fellow-Perfectionists out there. YOU know who YOU are!!
Oh, you don’t think you are a perfectionist? Hmmm, for a long time, I didn’t think I was either. But I’ve come to learn over the years, that I am one, and I need to look out for it because it is a weakness that makes me very hard on myself.
As smart as I can be sometimes, and as organized and disciplined as I habitually am — I have the nerve to call myself a failure sometimes. Yeah, that’s my defective Inner Voice rising up to take me down a peg again. I’ve been lucky that alot of “life’s lessons”, like school, college, chemistry, calculus — came easy to me. So, it was outside of school where things came that made me struggle. Oh, it came, don’t worry. Don’t hate on me, I’m NOT perfect, nor do I think I am — believe me! The things that stopped me in my tracks were typically physical. Skiing was a big one. I dated a nice guy named Joe my senior year in high school. He worked part-time for a ski resort in North Jersey, blowing snow at night during ski season. One night, they had an employee family event, where we could all come up, rent equipment, get free lift tickets and spend time on the slopes having fun. I had never skied before, so I took a lesson — I’m not crazy! Even with the lesson, I had a terrible time mastering the art of stopping. Yeah. Stopping, it’s kinda important! I was picking up so much speed on the bunny slope that I had to throw my body into the snow to stop myself from dying right there in front of the 6 year olds. It was super challenging for me. And I didn’t like struggling. Struggling. Ewww, it sounds like such a restrictive, unhappy word. Somewhere along the way on this journey, I’ve come to terms with struggling. Made peace with it, in some cordial way. Long ago and far away when I was 17 and trying to learn to ski….I didn’t have the wisdom to know that struggling, is actually learning, in disguise.
A perfectionist hates struggling. The art of struggling as a means to learn is wholly unattractive to a perfectionist. Let’s explore this a bit, because I think there is a correlation between perfectionism and learning to lose weight that needs to be solved like a calculus problem. First, we have to agree on one simple truth. A perfectionist does not believe he/she is perfect. The label is a misnomer, for certain. Are you asking, “WHAT??” No, for real, it’s true. Let’s go to the dictionary:
“Perfectionism is a belief that a state of completeness and flawlessness can and should be attained. Perfectionism is a belief that work or output that is anything less than perfect is unacceptable.”
So, what does this mean? Well, first let’s agree on what it doesn’t mean. Perfectionists don’t believe themselves to be perfect, ie better than everybody else. Rather a perfectionist believes:
a) that being perfect IS possible
b) that striving for the flawless state is a worthy goal, ie they should try to be perfect!
and c) achieving anything less than the perfect, flawless state is……unacceptable, er…. worthless.
So. Let’s sit here together and DIGEST THAT.
Sometimes perfectionists rain terror on those they love, leveling unattainable expectations on their spouse, their kids, their employees. But more times than not, perfectionists hold their judgement and their extreme expectations for themselves. A perfectionist is VERY hard on themselves, finding fault, and labeling failure to even the best of attempts at something, IF it falls short of flawless. Hmmm.
Let’s apply these thoughts to the weight loss process and attempts at mastering new activities. Perfectionism leads to “all or nothing” thinking.
Example: If an honorable, well-intentioned weight watcher, oh, let’s call her ….oh, I don’t know…..something like , Diane. Yeah. Just for the example. 🙂
So Diane starts her WW week on oh, let’s just say Saturday. I mean that’s my weigh in day, and my week start, but that’s just coincidence, right? 🙂
So Diane starts her week on Saturday with a full corral of weekly points, 7 days worth of daily points, the ability and intention to earn weekly activity points, and a clean slate free from guilt, having had them expunged by Denise at the meeting.
Diane is off to a good start, with her tools, tracking, scales, power foods, healthy snacks, liquids, etc etc. All Diane needs is one unexpected dinner, one special occasion, one too many offerings of cake, one too many handfuls of almonds, and WHAM! POW! BLAM! One moment of weakness, one too many servings of chinese food or cake becomes a land slide of bad choices — BECAUSE the week is blown already, right? WHY is it blown? BECAUSE it is not perfect, I’m over points already.
Truth time: The week is not blown YET. No way. So I, (I mean Diane) has eaten maybe MAYBE 12 ppv of cake, maybe 20 ppvs of chinese food. That’s not blown. This is recoverable. BUT it’s what happens next that will make or break the week….It’s what happens next that will make or break Diane.
Option 1: Will Diane fall victim to her perfectionism tendencies and BLOW the week HERSELF by letting the 1 or 2 off plan choices she made become a landslide of bad food choices??? OR
Option 2: Will Diane stop. Reflect. Evaluate. Forgive. FORGET and Re-Plan the week as if the one or two mis steps did not happen?
Why forget? Hmm, good question. I’ve BLOWN my week so many times over the past two years simply by trying to exercise or walk off bad choices. It never seems to work. All it achieves is to make me feel worse and worse about myself, and my bad choice. I have learned (for me) that its better to forgive myself and forget the bad choice…..and start over like it never happened. BECAUSE — my perfectionist nature LIKES the fresh start. LIKES the do over. So, I’ve learned to give myself a Do-Over so I don’t HAVE TO BLOW the week — waiting for Saturday to come again to create my do over.
All of this is a struggle. A struggle to learn. To learn how to eat. To learn how to exercise. To learn how to accept OK, instead of perfect. To learn how to stop judging myself. To learn how to Be OK and Like Myself.
So, this struggle is not about avoiding food. Or surviving the holidays. Or New Years Day somehow providing the Ultimate Do Over moment. This struggle is about accepting that every day is a process of “learning something.” Learning to Try my best, to Face the Reality of my Choices, to Evaluate my choices with kindness in my heart, to Decide to do better, and to Repeat.
So, bring on the struggle…..Nothing Easy is Worth Having anyway.
Ciao for now……Diane