Connection Not Perfection: A Simple Strategy for Overcoming Perfectionism and Relieving Pain

By Lorraine Faehndrich

connection
Ah perfection.

I’ve spent most of my life, probably since I was about 2, consciously or unconsciously trying to be perfect – in almost every area of my life – and at the same time feeling like I was failing miserably at it.

Ahem.  No kidding!

If you’re reading this, I’m going to take a wild guess that you can relate.

After all, perfectionism is a common personality trait shared by women who suffer from pelvic pain and other mind body syndromes.

Perfectionism is a strategy adopted by the brain to keep us safe.

We learn it when we’re young, and for good reasons – to gain approval, to avoid potentially dangerous disapproval from parents and other adults, as well as to avoid feeling uncomfortable emotions that as a child we have no guidance, support, or permission to feel.

So why wouldn’t we want to aim for perfection?

Well, to get right to the point……

Perfectionism eats love.

It sucks the love and joy out of everything.  It zaps you right out of your body and puts you straight into your mind.  Completely disconnecting you from your emotions, your heart and your soul – and everyone else.

It also leaves you in a chronic and unconscious state of fight or flight, tensing your muscles, holding your breath, and continually releasing stress hormones that further increase muscle tension, decrease blood flow, and in general, break the body down.

Not only that, when you’re trying to be perfect is when you are most likely to….

  • Yell at your kids, partner, friends, or boss.
  • Criticize the heck out of yourself.
  • Hide.
  • Rush around like a maniac.
  • Push yourself to do more – and more – and more – and…well, you get the idea.
  • Ignore your body.
  • Feel like giving up.
  • Procrastinate.
  • Ignore your emotions and intuition.  Intuition, what’s that?
  • Feel like you’re not good enough.
  • Get sick.
  • Push away your friends – and most other support.
  • Stop taking chances.
  • Stop having fun.

In other words, be very IM-perfect.

As you can see, like most strategies unconsciously created by your mind, perfectionism is not at all effective!

It’s not keeping you safe.

It’s causing physical and emotional pain.

If you want to heal pain you’re going to have to outsmart this perfectionism thing.

And, I should warn you, because I’ve learned the hard way, that you won’t be able to do that perfectly.

But, I know you’ll probably try anyway.

It’s pretty common for perfectionists to approach anything new, their healing included, the way they do everything else in their life…. by attempting to do it perfectly.   Which can’t work when it comes to healing your body because it results in putting a lot of extra pressure on yourself – and ultimately intensifies the pain that you’re trying to relieve.

But hey, that’s ok.  It’s all part of learning about yourself.

Which is the only effective way to approach Mind Body Healing – with an attitude of learning, curiosity and discovery.

So how can you outsmart perfectionism?

By striving for connection instead.

Connection (not Perfection) is your new best friend if you want to relieve pain.

  • Connect to your thoughts.
  • Connect to your body.
  • Connect to your emotions.
  • Connect to your soul.
  • Connect to love.
  • Connect to someone else.

Connection sounds hard but it’s so easy!

All you have to do is notice.

Whatever is there, even if it is nothing – with acceptance, curiosity, and compassion.

Just notice.

So, when you notice that you are stressing out trying to do something perfectly (or really well –  which is perfectly under cover)…..

….like say, oh……complete a project (or 10) on time, plan the most joyful holiday experience for yourself and your family; eat optimally healthy food; exercise every day without fail; be an amazing mother/wife/girlfriend/friend (hello Super Woman); think the exact right, best feeling thoughts all the time; say the exact right thing; do 1 (or possibly 12) hours of mind body practice every day (in exactly the right way of course); make the “right” plans, or the “best” decision, or be precisely on time, or cure cancer, or save the planet…..

Just notice that you are aiming for perfection, breathe, and turn your focus to connection instead.  Say to yourself,

 “Connection Not Perfection.”

“How would I be doing this or what would I be doing if my goal were connection rather than perfection?”

Maybe you would be connecting to your body by breathing and noticing the sensations there.

Maybe you would drop the effort, and decide to approach whatever you’re doing with a sense of joy and play.

Maybe you would give yourself permission to make mistakes – lots and lots and lots of mistakes – and just be pleased with yourself for doing whatever it is you’re doing.

Maybe you would visualize filling yourself up with love and light, or send some to someone else.

Maybe you would give your child a great big hug or take a minute to smell a flower, put on some music, or pet your cat.

Maybe you would smile – to yourself or someone else.

There are so many ways to connect.  See what you can come up with.

And remember, perfectionism eats love.

The truth is that what actually keeps us safe and loved is not getting anything done, or doing it right, or being the best, or having others approve, or keeping our job, or making more money….

It’s connecting to who we are.

Which, by the way, IS LOVE.

Being perfect won’t ever get you where you want to go (especially if you want to relieve pain).

Connecting will.

Start having fun.

Take the pressure off.

The love you want is right there – ALWAYS.

All you have to do is connect.

4 Comments

  1. Monica

    Lorraine, no matter how many times I’ve read this, it’s like reading it for the first time. It’s so easy to forget connection and keep push push pushing perfection (which is the opposite of true perfection). Thanks for the re-post!

    Reply
    • Lorraine

      Thanks for your comment Monica! It is easy to forget. I re-read this post myself sometimes to help me remember 🙂 Warmly, Lorraine

      Reply
  2. Asa Shaw

    This is an amazing , life changing for somebody like me who has lived with chronic pain for fifteen years. Thank you so much.

    Reply
    • Lorraine

      You’re welcome Asa! Thanks for reading and for your comments! Warmest Wishes, Lorraine

      Reply

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