One of the themes that we explore in our classes is softening perfectionism.
Perfectionism comes up regularly in our healing journeys – particularly our healing journey with food. There’s often a felt sense of, “If I can only get it right, and more often, and more quickly, then everything will be okay.”
This felt sense lives in the body, something that’s probably been with us for a long time. There’s a reason why it lives in our bodies and in our bones – it does not come out of thin air.
Perfectionism is a tender ally: how we’re trying to find the safety, connection and closeness we so desperately seek, how we’re trying to care for this felt sense of unease.
And while the quest for perfectionism can be so brutal, it’s also a way our nervous system is trying to care for us, to protect us from what feels too much to bear.
What helps us step more deeply into our bodies, to tend these places that give rise to the feelings of unease? And what feeds our courage so we can soften the grip that perfectionism holds on us?
One thing that helps is coming to a new understanding of safety.
We often think of safety as ‘getting it right,’ ensuring that things go our way.
But safety isn’t found in perfectionism but in the path itself. This includes, and even depends upon, our mistakes.
What a gentle, and healing irony: that we find rest in the messy path, the no’s, and all the places where we discover, ‘Oh, that doesn’t work, does it?’
The felt sense of, “I need to get it right and perfect to be okay,” was created in love, as a way to preserve our functioning.
As we approach our bodies with curiosity, wonder, and warmth, we come to know these places more intimately, with greater understanding and compassion.
We can come to see the tenderness that lives underneath the perfectionism and the care these parts of us need.
And in this tenderness, we discover an invitation to soften: to fall into the well of our mistakes, to trust how the water will hold us.
As a friend once told me, “If you’re falling apart, then fall.” Amen.