Archive | September 2015

Perfection or Acceptance?

It’s so perfect that I’m sitting in front of my computer, stalled, unable to write the piece on perfectionism. Because it might not be good enough. But it’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot over the past couple weeks, as I’ve been striving to let go of any patterns that no longer serves me. And perfectionism has got to go.

From Wikipedia: Perfectionism, in psychology, is a personality trait characterized by a person’s striving for flawlessness and setting excessively high performance standards, accompanied by overly critical self-evaluations and concerns regarding others’ evaluations.

Some might argue that perfectionism is a good thing, because we want to do a good job, produce quality results, create something we can be proud of. I wish to point out the phrases “excessively high performance standards” and “overly critical self-evaluations” and I wonder how we feel about ourselves when we constantly set ourselves up for failure.

If you had asked me in my younger years if I was a perfectionist, I would have vehemently denied it. Perfectionists are people who clean too much. I would have denied the constant chatter in my brain telling me I wasn’t good enough (and didn’t clean enough), I had to try harder, work longer hours, lose more weight, be more charming, talk more, but don’t talk too much. Because I believed the voices and I knew that when I was perfect, then I would be okay.

Talk about excessively high standards.

We all have inner critics in our minds, those voices telling us what we’re doing wrong. Some may have critics that scold when we eat too much dessert and some may have critics that yell at us for using a hanging preposition in a conversation. For the most part, our inner critics are trying to protect us from harm, from embarrassment, from pain. They really want us to fit in and be safe.

But here’s the thing: fitting in and being safe is not fun. It is not being who you really are and it is not your purpose in the world.

When I was listening to my inner critics, I was quieting my voice, not being me. The critics were so loud, I couldn’t get the words out. Even I stopped listening to me. And I missed out on a lot.

You have been criticizing yourself for years, and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens. ~Louise L. Hay

I wonder, what could I do if I took the advice I give to my clients and teach in my classes? Although I’ve come a long way, baby, I’ve still been putting conditions on my love for myself. What could I do if I truly loved myself, fully and completely accepted all of me? I’m talking radical self-love. Consciously committing to replacing the critical words with loving and compassionate words. Allowing myself to try something, knowing that I’ll only have loving words and feelings for myself if I fail.

So, what have been the results of radical self-love? For one, I just wrote a blog post in under an hour, and two, I just gave up sugar, my life-long nemesis, my physical and emotional addiction. I just gave it up, no problem, I don’t miss it. And the weight that I’ve been struggling with, dieting, fasting, exercising, nothing was working… now it’s just flying away, effortlessly.

Magic is happening. I’m still a work in progress, but life just keeps getting better.

We’re friends, my body and I

and i said to my body. softly. ‘i want to be your friend.’ it took a long breath. and replied ‘i have been waiting my whole life for this.’ ~Nayyirah Waheed

For how long have I not been a friend to my body? Criticizing her, hating her, wishing she was I want to be your friendsomething else. A chubby child and somewhat taller than average girl. A reader, a thinker, not an athlete. I learned early on that my body was not “right,” and the path to happiness was raw vegetables, rice cakes, and hours at the gym (a path I rarely followed).

When I started college, the “freshman 15” was closer to 30 and there started my relationship with dieting, a 20+ year dysfunctional relationship. Weight Watchers, Atkins, South Beach, counting calories, hours at the gym, I even ran for a few years. At one point, my personal trainer had me on a 1000 calorie diet, which I stayed on for all of two days.

If you’ve never dieted or worried about your weight, here’s what dieting feels like: being hungry all the time, always being obsessed with your next meal, and hating yourself every time you eat chocolate. Sounds like fun, right?

With each diet, I was sure I had the magic formula and I would lose the weight and keep it off. And every time, I gained the weight back.

Until finally, I had enough. Enough punishing my body. Enough hating myself. Enough criticism. Enough restrictions.

Enough of other people, people who do not live in my body, telling me what not to eat.

“and I said to my body softly, ‘I want to be your friend.'”

For every person who has lost weight and gained it back, there is either a physiological, emotional, and/or energetic reason for the extra weight. And for each person, the reason is unique. Any diet that focuses only on behavior modification without addressing those reasons will most likely not work in the long run, which is why the diet industry is multi-million dollar industry.

Not to mention the adverse affect of GMOs (genetically modified organism) and huge increase of sugar in our diets. Sugar, by the way, is highly addictive, and it’s hidden in a LOT of foods – start reading labels and you’ll see.

I could get on my soap box about what society and the media have done to our self-confidence and body image, but I’ll leave that for another day and get back to my story.

When I decided to befriend my body, to love her the way she is, I knew I had a journey of emotional healing ahead of me. All of the energy I had been putting into counting calories, I put into meditation, energy work, journaling, getting to know myself.

I started listening to the wisdom of my body, I asked her what kind of nutrients she wanted to keep going. The more I listened, the more she spoke. She does not feel well on wheat gluten or dairy, which is not easy. Despite the popularity of vegetarian and vegan lifestyles, she needs animal protein to stay healthy. Every day, every meal, she has different needs for what kind and how much food will make her work at optimal level.

The human body is meant to move, so I found better ways than spending hours on a treadmill. This body loves to walk and to dance, so we do more of that.

Our relationship – my body, mind, and spirit – is evolving. Sometimes the mind or spirit decide on a pizza and ice cream. My body has a reaction and I apologize and we move on.

I have not yet magically started shedding pounds, but I’ve stopped worrying about it so much. I’ve accepted that this is one of the lessons I’ve come to earth to learn. We’ve come a long way to a more loving relationship.

We’re friends, my body and I.