Fibromyalgia & the Perfectionist: 3 Steps to Being a Perfectly Imperfect-Perfect You

Image from GIS

Image from GIS

The title is a tongue twister.  I dare you to say it fast 7 times. 

What happens when a perfectionist develops fibromyalgia? Well, I’ve spent the past 8 years learning the answer.

I don’t often speak or write about being a perfectionist. In fact, embracing imperfection, especially when it comes to body image and fibromyalgia, is often at the core of my blog posts, including this one.  The topic, however, has been on my mind over the past month as I transition from being a student to being gainfully employed. 😉

So, what have I learned over the past 8 years? Well, I won’t summarize it in this post.  One day , however, I’ll probably write a book about it…the subject feels that heavy.  For today, I wanted to share with you 3 steps that I’ve taken to being perfect at being imperfectly perfect.

3 Steps to Being a Perfectly Imperfect-Perfect You

  1. Chuck the Planner–Literally. Toss that thing in the trashcan…but do it perfectly.  Instead, invest in notepads and write anything you need to do for the next day/moment/whatever and stick the note somewhere you are likely to see it and, thus, remember, e.g. on your computer, mirror, refrigerator, front door, whatever. Just make sure you find the perfect spot for them.
  2. Downsize Your Goals–Thinking about hiking Mt. Everest tomorrow? Well, how about downsizing that to hiking your local trail today? What I mean is, focus your thoughts on doing what you can right now, in this very minute.  I know that my perfectionism has been both a great help and a massive hindrance to achieving goals.  Of course, I still have goals.  However, I have modified them by breaking them down (mentally) into smaller achievable steps.  Also…I now focus on enjoying the process instead of the product.
  3. Ignore Everyone–Meaning, ignore their opinions.  If there is one thing I know about being a perfectionist is that the opinion of others really mattered to me. I would choose to do something or not based upon how others would respond. Of course, this can be a good thing…but it can also be very detrimental, especially if you are creative–what is it that you haven’t painted, written, played, done etc. because you fear the response of others?   Well, right now, this very second, is the time to say enough is enough and pick up that paintbrush, pen, sheet music, etc. and do what you want to do.

Bonus Tip: Learn to listen to your thoughts, feel your feelings, heed your body, embrace your resilient spirit.  You won’t be perfect at first, and you will be judged (don’t worry…they’re not perfect either). However,  if you keep working on it, you will become a perfectly imperfect-perfect you.

Hey, this life is in this moment. How do you want to spend it?

Looking for more on letting go of perfectionism? Read this.

Until Tomorrow,

D.

Help The Two Ps: Perfectionism and Procrastination

First of all, if you are still keeping an eye out for my rather sporadic posts, then you have my deepest gratitude! If you have just joined me, I ask for your patience as I do not post regularly, but as something comes to mind.

So, what’s on my mind? A lot…apparently.

Beyond the physiological and psychological aspects of treating my fibromyalgia (and other issues), I spend time exploring spiritual aspects as well.

Of course, this is my own journey and not some dictate to others.  (Re)Gaining a foothold on my spiritual path has been a challenging journey in itself, but one that has been rewarding and I am happy for where I am when it comes to spirituality.

About two weeks ago, I began  a 30-day meditation/prayer challenge/or whatever you prefer to call it.  The point is that I decided to focus inward and to quiet my mind, so that I could/can understand where and what steps I need to take to follow my path to self-actualization.

Since that time, a great deal of unexpected and positive things have occurred in my life.  The most important of these have been the experiences of self-revelation.  You know, it’s those moments where you think:

Gosh, it’s that simple or  Is that what it is/was or Seriously?!

Anyway, the point is that today, just this moment, I made an observation (revelation) of my relationship with perfectionism and procrastination.  I became aware of my reason for having procrastinated at various important points in my life.  And remember, if nurtured properly

Awareness is the seed that grows into behavioural change.

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Certainly, like many perfectionists, I am highly skilled in the art of procrastination…truly, it can be an art form all on its own (and I get quite a lot done when I am procrastinating, just not what I ought to get done).  😉

In various articles on the subject of perfectionism and procrastination, you will learn that the perfectionist will procrastinate if she or he does not believe that the task they are meant to complete can be done perfectly.  I have no argument with that.

The above-linked Psychology Today article points out the following behavioral or ideological position of the perfectionist when engaging in procrastination:

“There are at least seven operations involved in this perfectionism-procrastination process.

  1. You hold to lofty standards.
  2. You have no guarantee you’ll do well enough.
  3. Less than the best is not an option.
  4. As you think of not doing well enough, you feel uncomfortable.
  5. You fear the feelings of discomfort.
  6. You hide your imperfections from yourself and dodge discomfort by doing something “safer,” such as playing computer games.
  7. You repeat this exasperating process until you get off this contingent-worth merry-go-round by working to do better while not demanding perfection from yourself.”

Fair enough.  I can give a check mark on all of that plus more.  Beyond all of that, however, is the simple revelation that came to my mind: I never learnt to ask for help.

Growing up in my household, I was simply expected to know and to do.  There was never (that I can remember) any real explanation given for many things or even assistance with learning how to do many things.  If you couldn’t do it, then you were simply an idiot or stupid–no joke.

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What does asking for help have to do with perfectionism? 

Well, I would wonder how many perfectionists know how to ask for help, or even can fathom the idea of asking for help…even if that is what they truly want.

When you cannot or do not know how to ask for help, then what can you do when faced with an overwhelming task/challenge?

Probably, not much.

As a result, you may procrastinate to buy time until you can figure out how to taken on and complete the challenge.

Of course, perfectionists want to do their best, because not doing so disturbs our self-concept. And likewise, the view of procrastination can be focused to reflect that truth.   There is no doubt, in my mind, that the seven operations listed above are on the money.

 

However, I know for myself that since learning how to ask for help, I have procrastinated less and less with each passing day.

Yes, I am still a perfectionist.  Yes, I still procrastinate.  

 

I know now, however, that

  1. I am not alone in accomplishing my tasks, that
  2. I can give my all to achieving my goals,
  3. expect the best of myself,
  4. that I do not have to know, and
  5. that even if I fail, I will have the support I need to move on.

Also, did you know that you can use your perfectionism to your advantage?

Check out the article “Build Self-Confidence, Lower Anxiety, and Use Perfctionism to Your Advantage” by fellow blogger and counsellor Megan at One Shrink’s Perspective, and get a copy of Never Good Enough: How to UsePerfectionism to Your Advantage without Letting it Ruin Your Life by Monica Ramirez Basco.

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So, that is the thought I wanted to share today. Here are some questions for you:

 Are you perfectionist?

Have you mastered the art of procrastination?

Do you know how or think you can ask for help?

Share with someone the path you found in living with your perfectionism.

Until Next Time,

D.