The Struggling Perfectionist

  Perfectionism is something I didn’t even know you could be struggling with until about 3 years ago. I was serving a religious mission in Tahiti and realized that if I tried to do everything perfect I was going to have a mental break down. Imagine trying to speak a language you don’t know without making any mistakes. Yeah, I didn’t talk much for a while. The fear of making a mistake was paralyzing and I had a long way to go if I was ever going to be able to accept even the possibility of mistakes and failure in my lifetime. According to Brené Brown “perfectionism is the belief that if we do things perfectly and look perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgment, and shame.” Does that make sense? Have you ever had a thought like that? I have.” If I speak French perfectly then no Tahitian will make fun of me or think I’m stupid.” “If I turn in only perfect homework then my teachers will make less marks and give less negative feed back.” “If I don’t ever commit any “big” sins then people at church won’t judge me”. The thoughts of a perfectionist are flawed and crippling.   I couldn’t learn French because I was too afraid to feel shame if someone laughed at the way I talked. When I finally accepted that it was okay for me to pronounce a few words wrong and have improper grammar I began to speak their language and guess what, no one made fun of me. When I didn’t do my homework until the last minute because I had so much anxiety about making it perfect, it was never perfect and teachers still told me how I could improve. Sometimes I was so terrified about the comments a teacher would leave on a paper that I wouldn’t even read them. It was like I couldn’t handle the criticism because any feedback on how to be better meant that I wasn’t good enough. You see? Even with a simple thing like an english essay, it can’t be hey you did your best and this is what you can work on for next time. NO. As a perfectionist you hear “hey your paper wasn’t good enough and you’re not good enough so good luck next time.” It’s toxic.

How can you grow or improve in any area of your life with that kind of thinking? Oh and the never commit any huge sins to not be judged at church thing, doesn’t work either. No matter who you are or what you’re doing whether it’s at church or not, people will judge you. They’ll judge you for the choices you make and the pieces of your story they don’t understand but that’s okay, if you aren’t a perfectionist. If you are a perfectionist and someone judges you and you find out then your life is over and you’ll spend the next week thinking about it every single night until you lose sleep. 

    So if you’re reading this and can relate, you gotta stop. You have to stop beating yourself up every time you make a mistake or say the wrong thing. Stop obsessing about things you thought you didn’t do perfectly. Quit avoiding homework or conversations because you want to do something perfect or appear perfect. Life is not about proving to the world that you’re perfect so that you can feel worthy of love and acceptance. You’re worthy of love and acceptance even if you make mistakes EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Life is about learning and growing. It’s not about performing for worthiness or working for acceptance.

    It’s easier said than done but the biggest thing that combats perfectionism is self love and self compassion. Talk to yourself the way you would talk to your best friend. Be gentle with yourself when you make a mistake, pretend you are trying to console a little kid instead of telling yourself you’re the world’s biggest idiot or most awkward human on the planet. I would read, “The Gifts of Imperfection” by Brene Brown and “Self Compassion” by Kristin Neff. I read The Gifts of Imperfection in a day. It’s short, easy to read, and I freaking couldn’t get enough of it. That book was just the start to quieting my inner critic. I haven’t read Self Compassion yet but I bought it because Brene Brown recommends it in her book “Daring Greatly” and I can’t wait to read it! I’m excited to learn from Dr. Neff. Anyways, recovering from perfectionism takes time and it’s not easy. You’re literally changing the way you’ve thought about yourself and everything you do, even though you’ve been thinking that way your whole life. You can do it though, I believe in you. 🙂 

Am I Codependent?

To start off, this is something hard to say and practice if you are codependent “It is not my responsibility to heal, save, punish, or control other people.” Have you ever heard of the word codependent? It’s a very important word to understand. I had an idea of what it was as a teenager but as I grew into an adult I realized what it felt like. What it looked like. How I acted when I was being codependent and in a codependent relationship. Go onto google and type “define codependent” and this is what you will read, “characterized by excessive emotional or psychological reliance on a partner, typically one who requires support on account of an illness or addiction.” What does that really mean though? It means that you get all of your worth and purpose from helping someone who is ill or addicted to something. Doesn’t that sound miserable? To wake up each day and know that the way you feel about yourself completely depends on a relationship that you have little control over. It’s actually quite devastating to your self esteem and mental health to live each day this way without even questioning it. Let’s dive deeper into the symptoms and signs of codependency because I’m sure you have experienced it at least once in your life. These patterns and characteristics are taken from the CoDA.org website. CoDA stands for codependents anonymous. Yeah, it’s a thing. I’ve attended meetings for about a month now. It is healing and brings a feeling of support to know that there are others struggling with this and doing there best to overcome it to better their lives.

Denial Patterns

  • have difficulty identifying what they are feeling
  • minimize, alter, or deny how they truly feel
  • perceive themselves as completely unselfish and dedicated to the well-being of others
  • lack empathy for the feelings and needs of others
  • label others with their negative traits
  • think they can take care of themselves without any help from others
  • mask pain in various ways such as anger, humor, or isolation
  • do not recognize the unavailability of those people to whom they are attracted

Low Self-esteem Patterns

  • have difficulty making decisions
  • judge what they think, say, or do harshly, as never good enough
  • are embarrassed to receive recognition, praise, or gifts
  • value others’ approval of their thinking, feelings, and behavior over their own
  • do not perceive themselves as lovable or worthwhile persons
  • seek recognition and praise to overcome feeling less than
  • have difficulty admitting a mistake
  • need to appear to be right in the eyes of others and may even lie to look good
  • are unable to identify or ask for what they need and want
  • perceive themselves as superior to others
  • look to others to provide their sense of safety
  • have trouble setting healthy priorities and boundaries

Compliance Patterns

  • are extremely loyal, remaining in harmful situations too long
  • compromise their own values and integrity to avoid rejection or anger
  • put aside their own interests in order to do what others want
  • are hypervigilant regarding the feelings of others and take on those feelings
  • are afraid to express their beliefs, opinions, and feelings when they differ from those of others
  • accept sexual attention when they want love
  • make decisions without regard to the consequences
  • give up their truth to gain the approval of others or to avoid change

Control Patterns

  • believe people are incapable of taking care of themselves
  • attempt to convince others what to think, do, or feel
  • freely offer advice and direction without being asked
  • become resentful when others decline their help or reject their advice
  • lavish gifts and favors on those they want to influence
  • use sexual attention to gain approval and acceptance
  • have to feel needed in order to have a relationship with others
  • demand that their needs be met by others
  • use charm and charisma to convince others of their capacity to be caring and compassionate
  • use blame and shame to exploit others emotionally
  • refuse to cooperate, compromise, or negotiate
  • adopt an attitude of indifference, helplessness, authority, or rage to manipulate out comes
  • use recovery jargon in an attempt to control the behavior of others
  • pretend to agree with others to get what they want

Avoidance Patterns

  • act in ways that invite others to reject, shame, or express anger toward them
  • judge harshly what others think, say, or do
  • avoid emotional, physical, or sexual intimacy as a way to maintain distance
  • allow addictions to people, places, and things distract them from achieving intimacy in relationships
  • use indirect or evasive communication to avoid conflict or confrontation
  • diminish their capacity to have healthy relationships by declining to use the tools of recovery
  • suppress their feelings or needs to avoid feeling vulnerable
  • pull people toward them, but when others get close, push them away
  • refuse to give up their self-will to avoid surrendering to a power greater than themselves
  • believe displays of emotion are a sign of weakness
  • withhold expressions of appreciation

These are not even all of the characteristics and patterns of a codependent but if you can relate to this then you can relate to the rest of what I will talk about. Being codependent can also be described as self love deficit disorder. This rings true to me because everything you do and say and feel in a codependent relationship is fueled by your lack of self love. It is a desperate plea to yourself and the person you are toxically involved with to help you feel some kind of self worth. The only problem is this will NEVER work. Your self worth does not come from a relationship and it certainly doesn’t come from someone who is treating you poorly. You cannot earn your self worth. You cannot feel better about your self by impulsively taking care of someone else. I can guarantee that the person you are trying to take care of or save is 100% capable of taking care of them self or saving them self from the destruction they choose each and everyday. The fact that you took on the role of care taker or savior does them no good and I know that the truth is it is doing you no good. It is harming you both. Codependency is driven by the agreement that I will work harder on your problem and your life than you do. THIS IS NOT LOVE. If you feel trapped in a codependent cycle and want to heal then I would suggest reading “The Language of Letting Go” by Melody Beattie or “Codependent No More” by Melody Beattie. These books give insight, guidance, and healing. They also mention CoDA. I would start attending meetings too and finding a therapist. CoDA meetings are so helpful because they give you a support group and help you to realize other people have felt the way you feel and that there’s hope to overcome it. It’s a 12 step program to help you have healthy relationships. There are meetings all over the world. You can see if there’s one where you live on locator.coda.org. If you want to feel happy instead of trapped then I would start here. If you feel like you can’t live without someone in your life and you’re constantly thinking about them and how you can help them then that’s not healthy for you. I hope that you find peace and strength on your journey and that through your work and healing you can have happy, healthy relationships that bless your life.

Progression with Depression

Many of us struggle with some kind of mental illness. No matter what causes you pain in your mind and heart you are still capable of progressing and growing. While there are periods in your life that are filled with darkness or confusion you still have the ability to choose. Isn’t that amazing? Although we do not have the power to control our mental illness we do have the power to control how we react to them and deal with them. If we are choosing to cope with them in healthy ways then why would it be impossible to grow, learn, and progress? Why would our experience in those areas be any different than someone who does not struggle with a mental illness?

There is a very specific behavior that would cause us to become stagnate. I have observed this behavior and experienced it myself. We impede our own ability to grow when we use mental illness as an excuse or blame our character flaws on our illness. I’m not saying that you should beat yourself up for having a day you lay in bed when your depression is too heavy. Or to punish yourself for not talking to someone you wanted to talk to because your social anxiety was too overwhelming. I’m saying that when you consistently remove personal responsibility from any situation because of your mental illness you are impeding your self growth. There is a huge difference between saying, ” I felt too anxious to talk to him this time, I’ll try next time” and saying “I always feel too anxious when I try to talk to people I don’t know very well, there’s nothing I can do about it.” There’s a huge difference between saying “I felt too depressed today to leave the house and do my homework, I’ll try tomorrow” and saying “My depression is so bad that I can never get anything done, there’s no reason for me to even try to accomplish things that are important to me”. The second mindset surrenders all ability to choose and change your actions and feelings. The first mindset consciously shows self compassion, the ability to choose, and the opportunity to grow mentally and emotionally.

Stop using mental illness as an excuse. Don’t put your negative crap on others because you don’t want to change. It’s harmful to you and the people you love. You can’t lash out at your sister because you’re anxious at a party and then tell her she can’t be hurt because you have anxiety. That’s not okay. You can’t stop showing up to your college classes with no explanation because you’re depressed. It’s still your responsibility to take care of yourself and your life even if you are suffering internally. Mental illness is not an excuse to let opportunities and relationships slip through your finger tips. So pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and own your troubled mind.

The Power of Music 𝄞

Music has always been a source of healing for me. It’s usually not used for entertainment for me but sometimes it is. Music evokes emotions that help me heal when I’m suffering. When I hear a song that describes what I’m feeling it pierces my heart and the tears start to flow. The consistent beat and rhythmic sounds create a sense of safety for me. Everything just doesn’t seem as hard if I’m listening to a song that means something to me. It can create a connection that I can’t really explain between me and the person singing and I don’t feel so alone through what I’m experiencing. It brings me peace when there’s so much chaos around me and it lifts my spirit when I’m depressed. There’s just something about meaningful and deep songs that are so powerful and healing for me.

This sparked my interest in music therapy. I’ve never tried it but I decided to look it up today. Basically, there are two types. One is active and the other is passive. The therapist will play soothing music so you can visualize peaceful images and reflect on your thoughts, emotions, and sensations during passive music therapy. I think this could benefit a lot of people because so many of us can relate and heal through music just by listening to it in headphones in or in our car or whatever. Having a professional use it as a tool to help you work through hard emotions and heal would be so valuable. During active music therapy you and the therapist play instruments together, sing and use your bodies to make music. It’s highly interactive. Rhythmic and melodic components of music are used to create stimuli to help you reveal and deal with a specific emotion like loneliness, joy, grief, gratitude, sadness, and frustration.

Many studies have proven that music can decrease symptoms of depression, relieve stress, and reduce negative thoughts and states of mind. These benefits come from increasing your self-acceptance and confidence, self-awareness and expression, stimulation of speech, motor integration, and a sense of belonging and community. If this isn’t enough to spark your interest at least then I don’t know what will haha! I hope I can try music therapy soon and if you connect to music in the way that I do then get out there and try this type of therapy! What if it changes your life in a positive way? If you want more information on music therapy in a logical way then read Music Therapy: Understanding the Science of Sound by Lisabeth Fauble. If you want to learn about through stories and emotional appeal then I would read Six-Month Chrysalis compiled by Sarah R. Sendlbeck. That one is stories, insights, and lessons from 20 years of music therapy experiences so it applies to aspiring music therapists more but I would rather learn through stories and emotions when it comes to something I don’t know much about!

God and Mental Health

Mental health is a topic that is more acceptable to talk about today and yet there are still so many people who do not understand how important it is. We live in a society that puts politeness before safety or self-respect. A society where boundaries are made fun of or rejected. A society where love is sought for in all the wrong places and given in all the wrong ways. Because of this all of us will experience anxious feelings or depression or some kind of mental health issue at least once in our lives. For some, it comes in waves or depends on the circumstance while for others it is a battle fought every day until their life comes to an end. We can get therapy. We can reach out to others. We can choose good things for our minds and our hearts when we are suffering. Those are all things that we should do and be open to. But I would like to add more to all of those wonderful things. Without God, overcoming these emotional and mental ailments is impossible. I’m not saying it’s harder to overcome or that it takes longer to overcome without God. I’m saying it’s impossible.

God is the source of all love. Whether our wounds cause us a sorrow that chains us to our bed in the morning or that our low self worth fills us with anxiety love will heal them. Love touches each cut like a mother holding her sobbing child. It sews up the deep gashes in our hearts and soothes the unbearable pain in our minds. God is the ultimate healer. The master of our hearts. The creator of our beings. God’s love helps us overcome all mental illness because it is pure and unchanging. There’s not much in this world that is pure and unchanging but I know his love is.

I encourage you to find out who God is to you. What you believe about this being and why you believe it. I encourage you to seek his love and healing power through prayer. To pray to God is to trust that he will answer and help you. I know that as you seek healing and positive change that God will bless your efforts. He knows what you’re going through and that you want to have a happy life. He will lead you to the right people and to the right places as you seek this happiness. With everything that you’re already doing and changing to overcome mental health issues, the love of God can add more than you expected. You can start by reading a book called “The promise of a Sound Mind: God’s Plan For Emotional and Mental Health.” It’s by Eddie Snipes and I love the way that he uses the bible to explain how we can have a sound mind today. He doesn’t specifically address one mental or emotional issue but I think that his advice and explanations will help anyone who struggles with these things. I think it’s uplifting and that there are real things you can do to find healing and be happier. You’re worth it 🙂

How to Stop Falling For the Wrong Guy

In order to stop falling for the wrong guy, you have to stop being the wrong girl. I’m not talking about all the mean crap that your abusive boyfriend/ex has said to you. I’m not talking about the lies, like you’re too needy or sensitive or not trusting enough or not good enough. No. I’m not another person here to tell you why you don’t measure up and why you don’t deserve love or why it’s your fault you keep getting hurt over and over again. It is not your fault that people mistreat you or are abusive but guess what you are a part of the problem. Let me repeat that. It’s not your fault that you are being mistreated, used, or abused but you are a part of the problem. How so? Isn’t it all their fault that they are awful to you!? Well, of course, all the responsibility of their choices falls on their shoulders but there still is that one tiny problem you so willingly look over. YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR CHOICES.

Let me be clear. You are responsible for letting people treat you poorly. It’s not your fault that they treat you bad but it is your fault for sticking around. It’s your fault for making excuses for them. It’s your fault for accepting way less than you deserve. It’s your fault for not believing that you deserve better. Now look, I’m not trying to make you feel crappy or guilty however I am being completely honest. If you want to stop falling for the wrong guy you have to stop being the wrong girl. You have to let go of the girl that thinks it’s normal to be hurt over and over again. You have to let go of the girl that thinks it’s okay to let someone mistreat you because well maybe that’s the only person that is willing to be in a relationship with you. You have to let go of the girl that gives her heart to people that have no respect or desire to honor and cherish it.

This is what I mean. It’s not that you’re the wrong girl because you aren’t good enough. It’s just that you are the wrong girl because you are so much more than what you are currently accepting and being. You are so much more than the negative stuff that you tell yourself. You deserve so much more than just the bare minimum that someone selfishly offers you without a second thought to your wants and needs. You want to know why people come out of the worst and create the best? Because they choose it.

Understanding why you’ve made this pattern will help you make a real change in your life. Why do you choose people that mistreat you? Why do you stay with people that mistreat you? You are not a victim of your love life. It’s not some random thing that keeps happening to you. It’s a pattern and you can either choose to see the pattern or keep ignoring it and pretend that it’s always all the other person’s fault that you keep ending up in the exact same situation and relationship. You can pretend that there’s no hope and you should just give up because all guys are exactly the same but that’s not true and you know it. There are two common factors to your pattern, YOU, and someone who mistreats you. The only thing is the other person keeps changing but you don’t. You choose another person hoping it will be different this time but you, in fact, are no different. Everything in your life is a reflection of a choice you have made. If you want a different result make a different choice. So quit going from relationship to relationship hoping that it will be different this time because guess what you are getting the same result every damn time; a guy who doesn’t treat you the way you deserve to be treated.

This time you can choose to work on yourself and heal yourself. This time you can start being self-aware and consciously choose yourself for the first time in your life. Choose your wants and your needs rather than expecting some dude to choose them for you. No man will make you happy. You have to choose your happiness and then find someone who wants to enjoy it with you. Here are some words by Jeffrey R. Holland that I added to, to get my point across, “This is the only way you can stop choosing someone who belittles you, who is critical of you, who is cruel at your expense and may even call it humor. Life is tough enough without having the person who is supposed to love you lead the assault on your self-esteem, your sense of dignity, your confidence, and your joy. In this person’s care, you deserve to feel peace, physically safe and emotionally secure.” Do you really believe that though? Do you believe that in the presence of your significant other you deserve to feel peace, physically safe, and emotionally secure?

Book suggestion number 1: If you don’t even think that’s a possibility for you then I would start by reading “You Can Heal Your Life” by Louise Hay. It’s an international bestseller and it has only been sold over 50 million times so you know maybe at least one thing in there will help you. She’ll help you realize your own self worth and begin to understand self-acceptance. Two very important things when it comes to falling for the right guy. You will learn how to love yourself so that you’ll accept real love from others. This book is very beneficial to women who want to become the “right” girl. It’s for women who want healing, growth, and want to learn how to treat themselves right.

Book suggestion number 2: Once you have read “You Can Heal Your Life” and have taken the time to get to know yourself and love yourself I would suggest reading “How to Avoid Falling in Love with a Jerk” by McGraw-Hill. On the cover of the book, it says “The Foolproof Way to Follow Your Heart Without Losing Your Mind.” Don’t we all want to follow our heart without losing our mind when we fall in love? He’ll help you identify the behaviors of a jerk and what constitutes a jerk haha! I love his writing style and the way he breaks things down in dating/falling in love is easy to understand if you want to understand. He gives you basic knowledge in a lot of different areas, he’ll bring things to light that you didn’t even know were in the dark your whole life! Give it a try and apply his principles the best you can in your own life.

Final thoughts: Your love life and happiness is in your own hands. It’s not up to anyone else and you certainly should not give someone that much power. If you want to fall for the right guy then be the right girl, you deserve it.

Are you being emotionally abused?

People are emotionally abusive for a lot of different reasons. They do it for control, they do it to avoid admitting they did something wrong, they do it because that’s how they were raised. None of those reasons make it okay. None of those reasons bring me peace when I realize someone emotionally abused me because look, deep down inside we all know what’s right and what’s wrong. So I wanted to explain one clear behavior/scenario to show you that someone is emotionally abusive because it’s not okay that you’re being abused. It’s not okay that someone is using your empathy and emotions to hurt you and you know what else, it makes me angry that you’re being hurt and probably think it’s normal or maybe even that it’s what you deserve.

Here’s something simple to understand and recognize. If you approach someone you love and explain that something they did or said hurt your feelings, what should their reaction be? Here let’s flip it for a moment. If someone came to you and said hey what you said earlier made me feel sad or hey when you did that in front of everyone I was embarrassed and hurt, what would you do? MAYBE, SAY YOU’RE SORRY AND DON’T DO THAT AGAIN. But sadly with someone who is emotionally abusive you know how they’re going to react to your hurt feelings? Tell you why your hurt feelings are all your fault and why it has nothing to do with them or their behavior AT ALL! They will take no responsibility for what they’ve done and blame you for what you’re bringing to their attention. Oh, crazy right. Well, you’ve most likely experienced it. Dig deep.

In your romantic relationship or close friendship or even in family relationship have you ever told that person that something they did made you feel sad or upset and they reacted in anger or immediately began telling you why it’s all your fault? Why you’re the problem. Why you’re too sensitive or too insecure. Why your issues caused that not something that they did. Why it is YOUR problem, instead of just saying oh maybe I shouldn’t have said that. Maybe I shouldn’t have done that. I’m sorry, I didn’t realize I was hurting you and I won’t do it again. If anything other than that comes out of their mouth, quite honestly it’s worthless and probably damaging to you. Unless you are telling someone every day that anything and everything they do is hurting you then I think that you are quite rational in wanting an apology.

I think you are quite normal for expecting compassion and for that other person to agree that they will stop doing it but if they are emotionally abusive they won’t. And if you keep accepting that reaction eventually you will believe it is all your fault and your self-esteem will suffer greatly, that’s sad. It’s wrong. You can’t keep living like that. Trust me. Well, I mean you can keep barely surviving but that’s all you do, survive. It’s not possible to live, to be happy if you are in a state of constant anxiety and depression because someone continually hurts you without even the slightest inclination to take responsibility, say sorry, and stop doing whatever is hurting you.

Well now what? You realized they’re hurting you and you don’t like it but now what? I would suggest creating some space between you and this person, even if it hurts, even if it makes you sad for a little bit. What’s worse? Being emotionally abused for possibly years, or missing someone for a little while? Maybe you can still have them in your life but maybe you can’t. Here’s why. During the time that you have distance from this person you really have to start healing your own heart and mind. You have to read self help books about codependency and you have to figure out why it is you thought emotional abuse was acceptable. I would suggest reading “The Emotionally Abused Woman: Overcoming Destructive Patterns and Reclaiming Yourself” by Beverly Engel. It’s a beautiful book, full of examples, advice, and signs of emotional abuse. Emotional abuse comes in many forms from different people in your life and it usually starts when you’re a child. I would highly recommend going through that book a few times, it’s eye-opening and healing. I think that it can really make a difference in a woman’s life that is struggling with this. You have to learn what boundaries are and how to apply them in your own life. Maybe consider some therapy sessions to seek professional advice. Once you do that something beautiful happens. You start loving yourself. You start believing in yourself. You start realizing what you’re worth, with that you feel free. You feel empowered and you will never ever tolerate being hurt like that by anyone for any reason EVER AGAIN.

Well, what if this person won’t accept your boundaries? What if they don’t like that you love yourself? You have to let them go, no matter how much you love them because if you don’t you’ll revert back to the old you. The you that tolerates being hurt over and over again. Love yourself and be freed of cruel treatment, you’ll thank yourself later, I promise.