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My Story as a Recovering Perfectionist

I will admit it - I am a recovering perfectionist. I'm not like OCD level of perfectionist, but more of a feeling like I have to perfect in all I do. Any other perfectionists out there reading this? Can you relate? Making a shift away from it has been a challenge for me.


Let's start here with my need to be a perfect nutrition professional: I went from not really knowing anything about nutrition, to knowing so much that I got wrapped up in the "right and wrong", "good and bad". I'm also a "rule follower" and "good girl" by the way. After receiving my nutrition education, I would hate to go shopping and see people I knew because I was afraid of being judged. “Oh, she has chips in her chart; I can’t believe she’s buying chips. Chocolate chips? What are they doing in your chart? Sugar? What the hell? You told me to give up sugar! You hypocrite! You phony. Who are you to tell me what to eat if you don’t follow your own rules.I felt I had to be perfect. Eat perfectly. I know what the rules are, so I should follow them at any cost! (this caused A LOT of stress in my life - more on that in another blog post) Perfection is really hard to achieve because it is impossible. The funny thing is, rarely do I look at what other people are buying at the store. I’ve had other people worry and say things about what’s in their own shopping cart when they see me. Like I’m the food police. I’m not. I’m definitely not. (so if you see me in the store, please don't worry, I'm not judging you!)


This expectation to live up to other people’s standards is hard. Isn't it? It gets old. I decided I was tired of it and didn't want to live that way anymore. I question myself then…who’s standards are they REALLY? It’s my self perception that they even care about what I do, how I dress, what I say, etc. My mother had a phase, “wouldn’t care so much about what others thought of you if you realized how little they do.” Yes, Mom! Yes! I’m making the assumption people are even thinking about me. I had an epiphany one day, in the shower of coarse (my best ideas always come while in the bathroom): I’m self-absorbed because I worry about what others think of me. Let me explain. I always thought that people who didn’t care about other people’s opinions were self-absorbed. You know, my thought is they go about their lives making decisions just thinking about themselves, they don’t care. Then I realized that my obsession of caring what other people think is what’s actually self-absorbed. Who is at the center of that thought? Me. Yes me, not them. I’m making Me be the center of someone else’s thoughts. Whether they are thinking of me or not is not really the issue here. It’s the assuming that is. I’m again, making that assumption that others are thinking of me. They have nothing better to do with their lives than to think about me. I worry about embarrassing myself. If they will laugh or judge or look at my body in a swimsuit and think “OMG, that woman needs to put on more clothes!” Crazy, right?! Yeah, I’m the one who’s been self-absorbed. You may totally disagreed, hey, that's ok, but just think about it.


Where am I going with this? “Julie, you always say to speak kindly to yourself and not be so hard on yourself.” Yes, true. But the difference here is that I’m not beating myself up about it. I’m not berating myself, calling myself names, getting down on myself that I had this realization. It’s just becoming aware of something I need to work on. Remember there is no such thing as perfection. Having self compassion, loving or liking yourself, doesn’t mean that you think you’re perfect and have nothing to work on or improve. We all have things we need to improve upon because that is how we evolve and grow. I am becoming aware of something that I do that is not helpful to my evolution as a human being. I can call my actions self-absorbed because they are. I’m just not attaching any emotion to the word self-absorbed. It’s really that simple.


So in the spirit of releasing perfectionism, I took a look at who I am, really. The good, the darker sides, my past, what I need to work on. I always say that we can't make changing to better our health without some awareness first. Awareness is where we start. I'm being real here, in an effort to hopefully help you take that first step towards bettering your health.


So who am I? Here it goes:

  • I am somewhat of a perfectionist about certain things

  • I care too much about what other people think of me and it affects my choices

  • I have a hard time making decisions

  • I had a really scary diagnosis and it changed my life

  • I am particular about the products I use and food I buy

  • I’ve lost both of my parents (one to multiple cancers)

  • I like to make things

  • I’m a little bit cheap when it comes to buying things I think I can make myself

  • I’m a mother and wife

  • I like to cook, after the decision’s been made of what to make

  • I love to bake, especially bread and pie

  • I love the earth and all things natural

  • I love to garden

  • I am very concerned about global warming and taking care of our planet

  • I am spiritual, but have a hard time reconciling some of my Catholic upbringing and other religions teachings

  • I am a big picture thinker

  • I love learning and usually want to know the why behind things I do (except for magic – I don’t ever want to know the secrets behind tricks – I want to be amazed!)

  • I’m a Taurus – so yes, I’m stubborn

  • I like to walk barefoot

  • I like all the seasons – I really don’t mind being cold (I like to shovel)

  • I LOVE to dance, listen to music, sing, play instruments (used to)

  • I LOVE to create, draw, work with fiber

  • I like to listen to public radio and watch documentaries

  • I want to live as close to the land as possible

  • I love being by water – it brings me peace and calm

  • I am a lover

  • I can lose my temper when I get angry

  • I can be very "corny" and goofy (thanks to my mother)

  • I like to do puzzles

  • I like to read

  • I am an animal lover

  • I am a hard worker

  • I am considerate of other people’s feelings

  • I’m trustworthy and a loyal friend

  • I swear

  • I have tattoos and want another one

  • I’m someone you can count on to get something done

  • I’m also a little impatient when I want something done

  • Yet I’m patient with people and their thoughts and emotions

  • I get overwhelmed and stressed out when I have too much on the calendar

  • I used to binge and purge my food when I was a in high school

  • I have a history of depression

  • I used to smoke and drink too much

  • I used to be a major stress-head

  • I can still stress myself out by getting into my own head

  • I used to stress about things I thought I could control, but ultimately had no control over

  • Its my goal in life to grow and evolve, experience life, help and teach others, and love as much as possible


Take some time to sit with yourself, get to know yourself and become aware of where you are now and where you want to be. Give yourself permission to release the need for things to be perfect before you start your journey. If we wait for things in our lives to be perfect before we try to improve our health, we will never start. I don't want that for you. When we release the need to be perfect, we are able to breath better, smile a bit more, enjoy the little things in life, and let love into our hearts. You will begin this beautiful journey to better health.


With all my love,

Julie

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