So I was at a recovery meeting the other day and an individual shared something that struck a heavy chord with me about Perfectionism.
What was shared sparked the realization that my brain tended to get stuck in a state of Perfectionism. Meaning, a state, that while I am in it, I am constantly judging reality based on an ideal in my own brain. That and when the ideal is not met, the world is not okay. At least the world from this perspective anyways!
But our perspectives have a way of blurring what is going on in the real world. They can also be blurring the fact that the world may be perfect just the way it is.
Wandering through life in a perfectionistic state like this can make life very painful. A life where hardly anything seems good enough does not lend itself to having healthy relationships. Since this Perfectionism doesn’t seem to just be pointed at ourselves, we hold others to our standards as well.
I don’t know about you but this State of mind and not being in the moment has also done immense damage to my mental and emotional health over the years. What is really a trip is that as I look back on my life, even recently, I seem to be on autopilot while acting out on it.
Waking up to perfectionism.
As I said the state perfectionism I get into tends to live on autopilot. Meaning that i am generally not aware that I am doing it!
But as I look back on my past and sometimes still today, I find a ton of evidence for my more perfectionistic side.
Here are some of the clues that we may be stuck in Perfectionism:
Having the feeling that something I just accomplished just wasn’t good enough.
Not having a healthy sense of pride for productive skills.
Being overly critical of something not completed exactly right.
Also Being overly critical of something done well.
Having the feeling of being a failure even when things are going well.
Setting to high of standards for what other people are attempting.
Not offering up enough healthy praise for jobs done well by ourselves or others.
For the sake of this article I am not so worried about the why this problem came to be a problem. We cannot do much about the past except do well for our present.
I realize that on a bad day, there isn’t much of anything that I will perceive as good enough. This isn’t right, that isn’t right, they aren’t right, life isn’t right.. There must be some ideal that I am connected to and absolutely everything is missing it’s mark. This can set off a cascade of disappointment, anger, or possibly self-pity.
Thankfully today I can feel when this is happening and do something about it. For many years I didn’t have a clue!
The Stress of Perfectionism
Photo by Nik Shuliahin on Unsplash
There is an important place for being rigorous in getting things done well. I also believe that there is a place for pushing ourselves and other people to work hard to do well for what we collectively set out to do.
But after a certain point, the rigor and pushing for a certain outcome turns into a pushy and unhelpful cause of unneeded stress. Maybe it will get something helpful done, but is all that stress worth a maybe? That is a conclusion we all need to come to for ourselves.
We may push people to do what they don’t care about. As well as attach ourselves to ideas that we believe we are supposed to care about, but at our cores we don’t.
Not believing in what I am working for is stressful. And so is trying to push others to work hard for what they don’t believe in, at least when they won’t follow the plan and be obedient!
So what is the answer here, just sit back and not challenge ourselves or others to become more skilled? Absolutely not.
Letting Go of Perfectionism
Perfectionism is about control. There is something in a Perfectionistic brain that seems to like having things just so!
Photo by Robert V. Ruggiero on Unsplash
We have to find ways to let go of this control. That is,unless you are perfectly alright with beating yourself up! As well as harming relationships because they aren’t interested in following WHAT WE PERCIEVE to be the correct path.
I get it though, we desire what is best for the people that we care about, and yes this includes ourselves. It may hurt to let go, because we are invested in a way that may have once worked.
But the truth is that if we are willing to ease up on our Perfectionism, a better way will likely present itself.
There are a few questions we can ask ourselves to put the whole situation into a better perspective.
Am I working towards something that actually matters to me?
Do the people I am pushing actually want what I want?
These questions require honest self-reflection, to find out what we really desire. As well as some thoughtful conversations to find out what our relationships desire.
It takes some work, but ultimately could lead to using our and our relationships time and energy more effectively. This means more productivity and less resentment.
From Perfectionism to Realistic Perspective
If after reflecting and communicating you find that you are pushing for what you desire and others are on board, then awesome. I recommend spending time giving ourselves and those in our sights more compliments than criticisms.
This helps me from being too harsh and inflexible, allowing me let go and trust the innate intelligence of the people I surround myself with. It also helps me stay in reality instead of locked into rigid ideals, which is a much more enjoyable state for everybody!
But… Sometimes our relationships have no desire to buy into our visions anymore. It may be a hard pill to swallow. This takes grieving on our parts, so that we don’t get caught in a cycle of anger, self pity and resentment.
Here are some of my personal resources If you need some help to let go. Mind you that using them does not guarantee results for you, but have helped me immensely over the last 9 years in recovery from my own issues.
Tips for Grieving Ideals and Getting Back into Proper Perspective
Im realizing more clearly everyday that possibly the biggest crime we commit is in wasting our precious time.
You do it, I do it, we all do it to some degree.
One Persons Wasting Might be Another’s Calling.
Don’t worry, I am not here to shove a bunch of causes down your throat that I feel is worth everyone’s time. Everybody is different so we all have to define what activities are a waste of time for ourselves.
I can see something as a complete waste of time, and another person will find a level of joy in it that I may never know.
Though I will say that if you find yourself lost in a blah world where hardly anything makes sense, then no doubt a lot of time is wasting away..
How can we tell if something is a waste of time or a calling? Well, there is a saying from the Philosopher Alan Watts that rings through my mind often.
“Do you dig it?”
If I am not digging it then I am probably in the wrong place, or the wrong head space! And if the thing is dug, then we may be on the right track.
Life is too Short to be Wasting our Time.
Our time here in these bodies on this Earth is minuscule. We are basically here for a flash of a flash of a moment. To be off in our heads worrying and chasing down people, places and things that will leave us feeling empty is just stupid.
Often times when I am chasing what I don’t dig, I get an empty feeling. And when I am feeling empty, I know things need to change. The feeling tells me I need to find some things that I legitimately dig!
Life is too short for too many things we don’t dig. I am so grateful that I have woken up to this realization.
Learning is not Wasting.
One of my greatest joys is learning about myself. I am grateful to be blessed with this desire.
Though throughout many years I was astray from this calling, and much time was wasted. But thankfully I was able to make it out of the painful world of active addiction, and back into the real world.
Now I can be full of anger and regret about wasted time, or I can learn from it. Lessons learned ensure the past was not a waste!
But any lesson I have learned about the past that I continue to disregard, I am now wasting my damn time. And I am likely wasting the time of everybody around me.
Wasting the most Precious of Times.
Now I consider it a crime to waste my own time. Though I feel it would be an even greater crime to waste the time of those around me. Who really comes to mind hen I say this is my 3 month old daughter Ada!
In my wifes post a couple weeks ago, she spoke of learning how to stay in the moment from our infant girl. This reminded me of how easy it can be to become completely distracted from the beautiful features of life. It reminded me how much I fail to stay focused on what is right in front of my face as well.
But today I am now fueled with a commitment to waste as little time as possible for myself and others. This also means a commitment to develop a better relationship with the moment, the only time that exists.
It’s Never too Late to Quit Wasting Time.
All that we have is right now, the present moment, and it is never too late to quit wasting it. Sometimes it may take a jumping off a cliff moment, where some long held relationships need to be left behind.
Other times it is as simple as just focusing closer on the present moment and appreciating what is right in front of us.
That’s right, just because I feel like I am wasting my time doesn’t mean that I am in the wrong physical space. It could be that I am wishing for something that isn’t meant to be, or has not yet come to be.
It is amazing what some relaxed breathing and focusing on what I am grateful for can do for me. Just 15 minutes can take me from feeling completely lost to being planted firmly back into my calling and the present moment.
There are all sorts of things to be digging in this present moment right here and right now! I invite you to slow down and feel how much they mean to you.
And as I said above, if you are just learning this lesson, latch onto it and quit wasting your time. It is big lesson, and one that may have to be learned over and over again. If you are anything like me, it may take multiple reminders a day..
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An incredible skill that I have learned in recovery is commitment.
If you have had some trouble making positive commitments in your life, then stick around and read this.
Throughout my life I had a terribly difficult time committing to much of anything. When I did commit to something, I looked good out of the gates.
Over time though my commitment quickly descended into oblivion.
The disease of addiction had a grip on me for way too long. The only thing I really could commit myself to was numbing pain with chemicals.
By the time I used for my last time, even my commitment to using disappeared, thank god…
Of course, I don’t really call the actions taken while in active addiction, my own personal commitment. I didn’t feel in charge of that process.
I was more like a crazed squirrel, foraging to gather enough nuts to make sure it doesn’t starve during the winter.
It was pure instinct.
Pure instinct to protect me from the perceived danger of coming down. Insane or not, my brain was doing its best to protect me.
In fact, the way I ended up getting clean was because my family contacted Social Services, they worked out the process of terminating my rights to do anything but go to treatment for one year.
I was insane. They all knew it. Though it took some time to realize how crazy I actually was!
Thankfully someone else made that commitment when I couldn’t do it for myself.
It wasn’t until I began waking up from my fog in treatment and at recovery meetings that I began making the decisions that would lay the groundwork for making positive commitments.
During my time in treatment I realized that even though I was under state commitment, I needed to make this recovery and my life my own.
So, when they said I needed to go to 2 recovery meetings a week, I decided to go to one pretty much every day. And when I had to earn points to go outside by doing homework, you better believe I was all over that!
I went above and beyond, to show MYSELF that this was mine. That this is my life and I am choosing to live. And that I am not being forced to!
This is the type of mentality that has helped me to have the last almost 10 years clean! As well as accomplishing many lifelong dreams like being happily married, becoming a father, graduating college and owning a home.
The level of commitment I have for life has grown immensely over the years. And the stakes have gotten remarkably higher!
Even though the stakes are higher, the process of achieving goals stays the same. Plus, I don’t get to relax just because I have achieved a lot in the last 10 years.
My brain needs excitement, and to feel like I am living MY OWN life.
To make my life MY OWN I need to live above and beyond my current situation, while working hard in my current situation.
This is how a mind stays connected to building a great future reality, letting MYSELF know, my RELATIONSHIPS know, and even LIFE ITSELF know that I am ALL-IN!
When we show that we are ALL-IN with our commitments, the amount of blessings come into my world is tremendous!
Life can be amazing, not so damn boring. This takes effort though! And something I need consistent reminders of..
So if you are struggling with feeling like your living your own life today, make more of those decisions that show commitment to making it more of YOUR own!
It’s not like anyone else can do this for us…
In my next article we will discuss living life on default. Which to me is neglecting to make enough positive commitment with our lives.
Living on default has horribly negative effects. I will talk about them, then lay out some important guidelines for staying off default mode and, living a life worth living!
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I am a strong believer in the law of attraction! I have also experienced how it works in my life.
When I put out positive energy I am met back with that same energy. Just the same as if I am putting out negative energy that is what I receive back. This has been a great thing for me to implement in my life and it ALWAYS works.
Lately even though I know it works, I have had an extremely difficult time putting out that positive energy, which is not something that you do just once at the beginning of the day. Rather, it is something that you continue to do throughout your entire day. That, or it simply will not be effective!
It has been very difficult to follow through on staying positive, as of late. I begin my day by thinking positively and feeling love for what’s to come, but when that first negative thought or feeling comes it can be easy to let it hijack my whole day.
One area that is hugely impacted is at work. I work at Costco, which I normally love, and I interact with people my entire shift.
I am sure everyone can relate to shopping and ending up with that crabby cashier which can put a damper on your whole experience! I never thought that I was the crabby cashier. Well, it turns out that I am more that person lately than I thought.
When one unreasonable customer begins pushing my buttons they no doubt are feeling my “stabby eyes”, as my husband calls them. If just one of these customers comes around I can have a drastic personality change! And it will make it more likely that others after them will feel my wrath.
I am generally an upbeat and friendly person who never minds striking up conversation with those who come through my line. I smile and laugh with others and love to help cheer people up. Currently I am none of those things which has got me a bit down.
It’s not that I don’t want to be grateful, because trust me I do. I think that with all the changes that have come with being pregnant and being off one of my medications, that it has become a lot harder to manifest the positivity that I once had. This only increases fear and anxiety in my life.
I find it important to see exactly how this is affecting my everyday life. Gaining perspective on this is what drives me to make changes. What I know is that this issue has stopped me from fully being myself, leaving me feeling irritated and angry.
I am done hindering myself from having a great day. I am also done preventing myself from seeing all the positive things that are going on around me!
Although I am not trying to do it intentionally, I am making things harder for those I am working with. Ultimately, I am making it hard for anyone who encounters the negative energy I am fostering. This includes my family, friends, and even my cats!
In my last post I mentioned how I would focus on bringing more gratitude into my life. This is something that can help me to attract positive energy, and not keep my day hijacked by the negative in my own head! Here are a few ways I have been able to do this!
1. Stop and list things I am grateful for in my head- This acts like a timeout if you will. Doing this at work helps to turn my mood around, even if for a few minutes.
2. I have a symbol to help remind me to be grateful- I picked this up from “The Power by: Rhonda Byrne.” I picked something that I love. Every time I see a turtle I stop and really invoke feeling of gratitude and love in my life. I see it in jewelry,on t-shirts, kid’s toys, and more. “Affiliate Link Below”
3. I take a moment to breathe- This allows me to slow down and relax a little. When this happens, I can focus on feelings of gratitude, and get back to my friendlier personality.
4. Putting myself in others shoes- At work I have found it helpful to think about how coworkers might be affected by my energy. I know that when I work with someone who is constantly negative it can take a toll on my mood and sometimes I find myself feeling negative right along with them.
5. Thinking helpful thoughts- When I can get outside of my head and think of helping others, that can keep me from treating them badly. Thinking of helping others has helped me to stop the negative thoughts and start thinking positive thoughts. Then I am able to laugh with and not criticize, to smile at and not scowl, and to love and not hate.
Each of these things helps me to incorporate more positive energy into my day, which is something that I really need right now. Actively practicing this is what makes for a good day and I become someone that others want to be around.
Well that is all I have for now! Thanks for taking a moment of your day to read this! Feel free to share if you found this to be helpful.
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Hey everybody, thank you for stopping in to My Life Experiment.
As you may have noticed there will be a new author making contribution to My Life Experiment, my wife Casey Hagen! When first starting My Life Experiment I wasn’t aware that this would be a thing that would come to be. Though when the idea came to try and get Casey on board with contributing, I immediately knew it was a solid gold idea!
Casey and I come from similar life paths, in that we have lived through the pain of addiction, have rocked it in recovery, and way more often than not have been strongly supportive contribution to the fulfillment of each other’s ambitions.
What has worked so well in Casey and I’s relationship is that we have our own personalities, our own friends, and our own recoveries. I don’t feel the need to attempt to micromanage Casey’s life, and Casey has been able to do the same for me. Thank god!
We are able to have all of these things be separate, but still come together on enough things so that our relationship isn’t left to be too needy.
I don’t know about you, but I can get the feeling of suffocation quickly in any relationship! Without necessary space I am likely to freak out. I tend to be a bit of an introvert as I discussed a couple of posts back. That and I have had ample problems with other people’s expectations, and with those I perceive to be authority figures.
I remember one time when I was cleaning the fridge back at our old apartment. As I was cleaning, Casey walked by and said “Great job babe” or something similar. My immediate response was “you’re not my manager.” It was pretty funny to me, but I think it took Casey a little for bit for her to have the same sentiment for the comment.
Just so you know, I don’t believe my wife is my manager.
I have given ample thought to this situation and here is what I am concluding. Some unresolved stuff in me thought that she was trying to condition my behavior… So, I revolted!
I imagine this feeling is common place in relationships that require this amount of time to be spent together. Or maybe I am just justifying my behavior 🙂
Despite occasional revolts from feelings of being controlled, thankfully Casey and I have worked well together! But it isn’t controlling each other that has helped our lives together grow so rapidly.
We certainly push each other, encourage each other, and compliment each other! We understand that in order to have a happy relationship, we need to change, grow, and find success in new territories.
Casey knows that my success is her success, and my clean fridge is her clean fridge. And most of the time, I stay reminded of the very same thing!
We understand that we are a team. We realize that the team needs the fridge to be cleaned, the litter boxes to be emptied, the dishes to be done, and so on and so forth with the never ending list of responsibilities there are to take care of.
Even though sometimes innocent comments about my cleaning performance can be viewed as attempts to condition my behavior, it doesn’t really matter because that is all part of the process.
To be in a healthy, intimate relationship, we must allow the other person to leave their mark on us. They need to know that their needs, are needs that not only they care about.
Now does it really matter that compliments may be a great way to make it more likely that someone will behave the way I would like them to? When it comes to having a healthy relationship, of course not!
Casey isn’t making me be in my marriage, nobody is making me show up to weekly baby appointments, and cleaning the litter box. Nobody is forcing Casey to make any contribution to My Life Experiment blog, or any of the thousand contributions she has made to my life.
We choose to be in this relationship. And we choose to make it a healthy one. Both individually and mutually making contributions to each other!
A big reason I have been able to keep my end of this relationship healthy is because I have kept my own mental and emotional health in check. This has come from me showing up for my personal recovery.
Another great tool I have is the Therapeutic Writing Guidelines we have developed. This writing process has made huge contribution after huge contribution to my recovery. If you would like to obtain a printable copy, go ahead and join My Life Experiment’s email list on the side bar! You will get a printable Therapeutic Writing Guide, as well as receive our new blog posts directly to your email.
Thank you very much for stopping in to My Life Experiment once again or for the first time. We appreciate you all for supporting this family endeavor!
In this article I just want to lay out some of the pro’s and con’s to having a social style that doesn’t desire all that much social interaction.
I enjoy laying out the cons to things, since then I can build up the thing with the pros at the end!
Some Cons to Having a Not So Social Nature:
I will not seek many opportunities to socialize- I know that socializing is very important for maintaining mental and emotional health. My style leads me to isolate pretty easily if I am not careful. And isolation is not good for my continued growth.
When I want to Socialize, others may not want to- Sometimes I really do feel like socializing. The whole introverted thing is not an all or nothing proposition, I just happen to be more inclined to not want to socialize than to want to. So, since I am really good at hanging out with myself, I sometimes find it difficult to let people believe I actually want to hang out!
Style Strengthens with use- I understand that what I do most often, is what I am learning most about doing more. I don’t learn how to socialize more until I actually socialize more often. To be more balanced with my social life, acting out on my nature too effectively does not help me learn a new way of living my life.
People Might Follow me- People that may watch what I do in recovery sometimes see my style and think, “well if Travis doesn’t socialize then why should I.” This could lead someone that naturally has a more social engagement style to isolate themselves from the growth that comes from interacting with others. I help other addicts in recovery, and we tend to take things to extremes!
Not selling myself enough- Lets face it, to be successful in life requires selling our personal brand (reputation)! In order to be selling, I need to put myself in front of buyers! That goes for this blog, my job, my recovery, and every other relationship. If I don’t sell people on my reality, they will naturally go up into their heads and make assumptions about me. And these assumptions may not benefit the kind of life I desire to live!
Some Pros to Having a Not So Social Nature:
Recharge my own batteries- Many people need others to recharge their batteries. I do find some recharge from other people as well! But more often than not, I find that other peeps drain my batteries more than charge them up. So, when I need to recharge I can do some meditating, do some writing or just relax, and boom my batteries are all charged up!
A Unique Life Perspective- I have spent much of my life sizing up the world. I sit back, and I watch, I study, I read. When I open my mouth, the thoughts are usually from a perspective that other people haven’t thought about! This has led me to come up with creative ways to solve problems that maybe other people are not thinking of.
Development of Self Knowledge- To not be surrounded by people has helped me get to know myself in a way that I would have had a difficult time doing while being constantly surrounded by others. I realize that gaining self-knowledge does require some social engagement, but ample time reflecting by myself is paramount for me getting to know myself.
Freedom from social expectations- Now that I have been gaining more acceptance of my social style I have been able to separate the expectations of others, from expectations I actually care to take responsibility for meeting. This frees me up to do more things that I care to do, instead of running around co-dependently taking on too many other peoples
Time for Making my own Decisions- Something that I deeply need and enjoy is having peace and quiet for making big decisions. I feel that if I do not think through my decisions that I may end up acting irrationally. Thankfully I am quite alright being solely in my own company, so I can peacefully come up with my own part of the plan without the presence of other people. Then If I cannot figure out the plan, I can then communicate with others to figure out the rest.
I realize that my nature is naturally Not So Social but writing this Cons and Pros list has opened my eyes to some new insights!
The world that I live in, in order to find great success, does seem to favor those that are more extroverted and willing to socialize. So, for me to find the kind of success I desire, and desire for my family, does require me to crack open my not so social shell from time to time!
I realize that just because my nature tends to be naturally not so social, that does not mean that I cannot learn to be more social. But that it is quite alright for me to respect my limits and not expect myself to be something that I am not.
If there is one thing I hope that you get out of this article, I hope that you can see that it is perfectly fine to be yourself. This goes for if you have a not so social nature, as well as if you have in my opinion, too social of a nature!
I also hope that you take one more thing from this article. I hope that you see that whatever social type of nature you have, there are many bonuses to learn how to be more of your opposite!
My Life Experiment is all about learning new ways to live. I cannot simply accept my not so social nature, and let it be that. I have my tendencies but there is always room for improvement!
Thank you so much for stopping by!
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