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Day 33 Perfectionism - the value of cluster writing

Discussion in 'Structured Educational Program' started by Moppy, Feb 4, 2016.

  1. Moppy

    Moppy Peer Supporter

    Today the Journal topic is perfectionism and what it means to me and how it has affected my life. I decided to do it as a cluster writing exercise as am a little bit sick of writing screeds! It was a good option because once I had that bubble diagram in front of me, I realised how much perfectionism underlies ALL my other TMS personality traits and behaviour. This was really quite an eye opener as I had not realised just how central perfectionism was. I doubt if it would have hit me in the same way if I had just written it out as text.

    Perfectionism underpins my deep feelings of unworthiness, self-loathing and guilt, my people pleasing tendencies, my constant self-criticism, and fear (extreme) of failure, and my habit of pushing myself to the physical and emotional limit to achieve standards that I've set for myself which probably no one could achieve. This causes me extreme anxiety and quite often, physical injury – which I now understand to be TMS pain. Every single one of these personality traits and behaviours causes anxiety. And of course, when we are anxious, we become physically tense and tighten our muscles, which must reduce the oxygen flow – and as I understand it, this is what Dr Sarno says causes the pain. So everything really is related, isn't it? I kind of knew that it was in an intellectual way, but drawing it all out on a sheet of paper as an interrelated diagram really brought it home in a new way. Dr Sarno says that information is the "antibiotic" for TMS, so hopefully this is another significant insight for me and another step forward in my journey.
    ElizabethG likes this.
  2. Walt Oleksy

    Walt Oleksy Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi, Moppy. I hope you can just drop out of being a perfectionist. It really causes emotional pain. I work for a book publisher who is a super perfectionist and he is always in physical pain. You should start thinking of yourself as being wonderful, which you probably are. When you feel anxious, try deep breathing which is profoundly calming, and also laugh. Laughing sends endorphins to the brain that help heal pain.
  3. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Moppy,

    What a wonderful list of insights. I hope you can be gentle with yourself as you see more about how the compulsion to be perfect activates your actions and thinking during the day. It is an education cure, so whether you change a lot or not, given this new insight, you can still relieve TMS, because you are finding the real reason for your symptoms. For me, just seeing what I was doing to myself, and applying Dr. Sarno's work to my insights, was huge.

    And, as Walt says, I hope you can drop out of it. This takes courage to let go of patterns, and feel what comes up (like fear of rejection, or Inner Critic attacks) when you don't engage in the habitual way. Dropping the perfectionism, and also having some compassion for the pattern, but not believing it so much --- this is the path to a freer life. A life that embraces more joy and aliveness.

    Andy B
  4. Moppy

    Moppy Peer Supporter

    Thankyou Andy and Walt. I find it pretty difficult to think of myself as being wonderful after a lifetime of doing tbe exact opposite...but maybe if i just tell myself, whether i believe it or not, the rest will follow.

    And dropping perferctionism...., how do you actually DO tbat? i can let it go intellectually but really not sure how to do it in real life with things that are important. Mind you I did try it out the other day with something not important, quite a funny story. I am learning to draw thru an online course, after never believing i coild draw since being kicked out of art class as a 12 year old for talking! Anyay we had to do an image and then upload it to Facebook for comment. I stressed over it and spent hours over four attempts to get it right, each time rejecting it as rubbish. The last one i did i thought was still no good but was so fed up i posted it anyway and guess what.....had lots of positive comments, including from the teacher! I did laugh to myself....perhaps this was a metaphor for life!
  5. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Moppy,
    You do it just the way you did, by experimenting with your life. There was an old Sufi practice given to students where for a year they would be asked to "behave in ways that bring on rejection from society." That is an example of an actual intention and practice to free themselves of inner and outer judgement. You could try one thing a day that you know your perfectionist is "not happy with." Start small, because as you do it, the same issues and attacks will come up that will come up when it is something big. But with small things, you can know they are not so important, so you can observe the inner activity, and disengage, and do what YOU choose. When you see how ridiculous the need to be perfect about small things is, it is laughable, and you can laugh with, or at the Inner Critic.
    Andy B
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  6. blake

    blake Well known member

    Hi moppy,

    I'm glad you ended up submitting your art on Facebook and received good feedback. It's just more evidence that everything you have to offer is more than fine.

    Maybe perfectionism is a hard habit to break because it promises so much. If I am a perfect wife, mother, worker etc. I will be loved or admired. I've been realizing lately that the thought of giving that up can be scary. This had never occurred to me before. But of course this logic is completely false, since I am already loved right here, right now, and trust me, those who love me already know I'm not perfect! And the more I see this personality trait in myself, the more I realize just how destructive it is. And this really motivates me to pay attention to how I'm treating myself.
    JanAtheCPA, Ellen and Moppy like this.
  7. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Well put Blake! It promises so much. That is a very good insight for me to contemplate. It promises so much. And as I contemplate that, I think with what desperation I want what it promises! No wonder it is so seductive and powerful.
    donavanf and Moppy like this.
  8. blake

    blake Well known member

    Yes, powerful and seductive, indeed!

    My perfectionism was born long ago out of the desire to please my dad and win his love, but I keep it alive in the here and now. As long as I am trying to be perfect, there's hope. The alternative is to stop all the striving and be with that wounded child. In a way, my perfectionism is the ultimate distraction for me. But it's never about being perfect, but more about the striving for perfection.

    I never realized how much I was getting out of this pattern until now. The problem, of course, is that it keeps from appreciating the love I actually have right now. It also prevents me from reaching out to others and get the support I need, because that perfectionistic part says, "it's okay, we've got it covered."
  9. Moppy

    Moppy Peer Supporter

    Oooh Andy...that'll be a challenge, to intentionally step out risking rejection! Just the thought of it terrifies me....I can even feel my heart rate speeding up and my chest tightening thinking about it....

    Yes, i agree with you Blake. Our perfection does keep us striving and missing what we've got now....it keeps us firmly focused on the future. I'd never realised that before, so thank you.
  10. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    I may have mis-spoken. I think any small thing you do that pushes the envelope is very powerful, well short of asking for rejection. Just being yourself in the moment, seeing the activation of the superego, and/or feeling the body as you describe above is very powerful! To feel what I quoted above, and to tolerate it, is huge, and it can be around very "small things" because the activation is big. It really does take courage. And how wonderful and enlivening to play with the boundaries of who we take ourselves to be.
  11. Moppy

    Moppy Peer Supporter

    Yes Andy...i think you hit the nail on the head when you said "just being yourself". I did misunderstand your earlier comment i realise. It's still very challenging to allow myself to "just be myself" and not stress about doing/making something perfectly. ...but i am working on it. I really appreciate your support!
  12. donavanf

    donavanf Well known member

    This is a great thread and I relate to it so much. I have realized that perfectionism is the fulcrum of my TMS. It is behind everything I do, and ironically it was the one thing I didn't recognize in myself when I initially read Sarno. I saw a lot of goodism/people pleasing, OCD/rumination, repressed anger and anxiety, dependency, and all the rest, but I always thought, "I'm not a perfectionist". Then it dawned on me, I am so many of those other things BECAUSE of my perfectionism. My inner critic IS the pain in my neck! And he's a BULLY!
  13. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    I think this is a great, global observation, that many of the other traits you have are fundamentally about perfectionism. Someone once told me "to be perfect promises us so much." I think there is a sneaky seduction in perfectionism which can be very pervasive.
    donavanf likes this.

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