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  • Self - Improvement

    Falling Victim To The Dangers Of Perfection

    The first response to my Google Dictionary search for the definition of “Perfection” read:

    Perfection: the condition, state, or quality of being free or as free as possible from all flaws or defects.

    I snorted after I read this. Did the dictionary really just use the words “free” in its explanation of Perfection? To me, Perfection entails exactly the INVERSE of this descriptive word. It is all too easy to become a slave to the concept of attaining Perfection. The process of “reaching” Perfection becomes the discovery of one’s own mistakes, personal ineptitudes, and feelings of incompetence. Which is great if this becomes ammunition for self-growth, positive change, and building a healthy outlook at life. However, it can completely backfire and leave you in a pit full of self-hate, self-sabotage, and an overwhelming sense of defeat. Over the last few days, I had fallen victim to this dangerous “Perfection Pit”- similar to the mud pit I found myself pushed into on an Alaskan glacier excursion:


    The push was an accident. It was one of those times when you’re cautiously walking over something dangerous, and the person behind you grabs you and fake jolts you near the edge. You scream and freeze, but soon relax when you recognize you’re still on safe ground.

    This scenario is normal for most people.

    I, however, have a complete lack of balance, and suddenly found myself falling, and eventually sinking, into a sucking mud-pit from an Alaskan Glacier.

    I have to admit, I was legitimately stuck.
    Every time I tried (with both hands) to drag each of my legs out of the mud, the vacuum seal of the mud would sink them down even further.
    At this point, I was legitimately scared and started to stress out.
    I was in fight-or-flight mode. Nothing was more important than getting myself out. All of my energy and attention was focused on myself.
    This zoomed-in mindset exacerbated my anxiety and stress:
    I’m stuck…
    can’t get myself out…
    OMG, I really can’t get myself out!
    I’m stuck here forever!
    What am going to do?
    I’m going to drown!
    But the reality of the situation- in hindsight of course (“20:20”)- was that I had help. I wasn’t alone.
    Sahand put his phone away so he could help hoist me out. With an extra set of hands and some re-angling of my legs, I was able to break the vacuum seal that was keeping me tethered to the mud.

    I didn’t drown, and I didn’t have to find a solution solely on my own.

    Safe on the walkway, I was able to let out a big breath and finally laugh!
    This Alaskan experience was a great metaphor for the dangers we may fall victim to in our quest for Perfection.

     Staying Consciously On The Walkway

    I’m guilty of striving for Perfection. It’s what our society obsesses over, and I’m guilty of obsessing over it too.

    Photo credit: www.newhealthadvisor.com

    Every week, I cautiously walk the “Perfection Platform” (can’t help it with all the alliterations…;-)).  I know it’s not healthy to achieve Perfection, but again, I’m guilty of striving for it:

    • 30 minutes of exercise
    • 30 minutes of learning Farsi
    • 3+ glasses of water
    • 30 minutes of studying/reading
    • Healthy, clean eating

    This is my daily trudge. I convince myself that by following these self-directed guidelines, I will be on my way to achieving Perfection in my physique, health, linguistics, and career.


    Falling Into The Perfection Pit

    Things usually go smoothly week to week in a fairly consistent and routine way. That is, until life happens, and something out of your control knocks you off balance.

    Photo credit: www.wisegeek.com

     

    For me, it was the monthly avenge of being a female. I felt bloated, swollen, and completely out of shape. Clothes I normally had no problem fitting into were suddenly a struggle to button. Even workout shorts were becoming suctioned to my thighs. Talk about discouragement from wanting to hit the gym! Not to mention the added bonus of hormonal emotions…!


    Getting Out On Your Own

    I was anxious, discouraged, insecure, and emotional.

    I tried to get out of my funk by exercising, but the act of even changing into workout clothes was disheartening. I was self critical of my workout appearance, performance, and muscle soreness during the following days of recovery.

    Photo Credit: blueocean.net

    I became self-critical of my eating habits. Sure, I was eating healthy, but my cravings had me snacking throughout the day and late into the night, perpetuating the feeling of lack of control, lack of willpower, and a sense of self-neglect.

    Despite my best attempts to beat the bloat, counter the cravings, and persevere through my poor work-out performances, I felt pretty defeated. I needed help.


    Reaching Out For Help

    Date night became my therapy session. It was pivotal in rebuilding my motivation, demolishing my self-hate attitude, and re-energizing my positive outlook on self-care.


    Look Around And Re-Appreciate

    The following day, I laced up my sneakers and took a break from my HIIT workouts. I put on my headphones and walked a few miles around the neighborhood listening to some low-key playlists on Pandora.
    Photo Credit: www.gvcmortgage.com
    The weather was sunny and warm with a light and soothing breeze. After a few miles, the effects of endorphins started to creep in with a similar shift in my overall outlook.  A little “Zooming Out,” a little help from others, and some small changes in my outlook were key to recognizing that my submersion in the Perfection Pit was only transient.
    Everything was going to be okay.

    Letting Out A Laugh

    After my walk, I came back to my apartment feeling lighter and happier.

    I wanted to use this experience as new motivation for self-growth, positive change, and to build a healthier outlook on my life.

    Looking back at the emotional rollercoaster I put Sahand through over the past few days, I had to laugh….
    (but also remind him of how fortunate he is for gaining a Y chromosome and evading a woman’s monthly nightmare! 😉 )
    My best advice?
    Whatever push Life gives you into the Perfection Pit, recognize that it’s only temporary!
    Don’t allow yourself to wallow, reach out to friends/ family, and don’t forget to laugh when you come out on the other side!

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