Tuning out Perfectionism


OMG— After work, my energy was so low. I was in the midst of PMDD (think pre-menstrual syndrome, but a trillion times worst) with the hot hormonal mess of pre-menopause.

After work, I considered not going to the gym, even though it was sharpie-d into my calendar. I ended up there and signed in. I felt extreme physical exhaustion, so I sat down in a chair near the door and drank water, instead of immediately heading for the locker room.

I sat there a long time debating whether or not to go swimming. I was wondering if this was resistance. It would be silly not to go, since I was here, right? MY ego told me that I MUST swim, otherwise I would be letting myself down. This message was strong in my thoughts, but I didn’t react to it (like I have many many times before). I just sat there and listened to myself—to my thoughts, to my emotions and to my body. This was not resistance. Underneath my ego’s B.S., I wanted to swim if I were up for it, but I felt weak, like I was going to pass out. I didn’t have the strength to even put on my swimsuit. So, after half an hour, I left.

The minute I walked out the door, it was a challenge not to beat myself up. Because I did not follow my “perfectly” planned-out plans , I catastrophized that I had completely destroyed my exercise goals and that I might as well give up.

Success to my inner perfectionist, meant that I must completely nail every goal on the head verbatim and show up to everything I planned—no matter what. No flexibility. No room for changes. End of story.

But life’s reality is: shit happens.

This time, I allowed myself to be flexible. I took the time to listen to myself and honor where I was at. Then I altered my plans to take care of myself. I needed to relax and pamper and chill instead of swim 40 laps. Not following through with my original plans WAS taking care of myself. In doing this, I WAS a SUCCESS.

I got off the bus at the park, a few blocks from my house. The cool air felt good along with little rain drops, but my eyes were closing as I walked deliriously and in slow motion home. At that point, I knew for certain, that I had made the right decision.

My day wasn’t PERFECT –or the way I wanted it, but it was a PERFECT opportunity (no pun intended) to embrace imperfections and meet myself where I was in the present. And that’s exactly what I did, so I’ll definitely count this as a VICTORY.

About author

Lisa Jo Barr

Lisa Jo Barr is a prolific writer. Her articles, columns and blogs have been published online, in newspapers and magazines worldwide, and has been featured in the book Chicken Soup for the Recovering Soul, Daily Inspirations. She is currently working on her first book. Lisa has a PhD in the School of Hard Knocks. Not only has she survived trauma, including childhood sexual abuse, domestic violence and rape; but she has overcome sex addiction, as well as other addictions to cigarettes and cocaine, and has learned how to manage Bipolar I and Complex PTSD. One of the brightest beacons in Lisa's life has been a strong determination to know herself, no matter what it takes, along with a knowing that she can deeply inspire -- that her experiences can help others realize they are not alone, that there is always hope for a better future. Lisa loves to swim, travel and listen to music. She lives in Denver, Colorado.

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