Why letting go of perfectionism and embracing acceptance is a key part in living a happier and healthier life
As someone who grew up in a competitive figure skating environment, I am quite familiar with the struggle of perfectionism. More importantly, I know how this desire to be "perfect" can prevent people from living happy, healthy, and authentic lives.
My favorite definition of perfectionism says: "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. Perfectionism is a twenty-ton shield that we lug around, thinking it will protect us, when in fact it's the thing that's really preventing us from being seen" (Brené Brown). To me, perfectionism is also that voice that tells us: anything less than perfect is not enough, and if you can't reach this perfect way of living, thinking, feeling, acting, or looking, you are not enough. Pretty harsh, right?
There are many ways we can receive this message, but most of the time, there isn't someone actually saying these words directly to us (thankfully!). We all soak up this message from different sources in our lives, whether that be childhood experiences, our jobs, or our relationships. Many of us also absorb this message through societal pressures that tell us that we need to look, act, and feel a certain way in order to be lovable- especially when it comes to our health and appearance.
Thankfully, we do not need to be "perfect" in order to be loved! In fact, many of what we consider to be "imperfections" are what make us the strong, beautiful, and powerful individuals we are.
So you might be wondering, what does this have to do with my health?
Perfectionism not only affects your mental wellbeing, but it can have a huge impact on your physical health as well. Imagine wanting to start getting healthy, but every time you miss a gym session or reach for a snack that isn't in alignment with your needs, you hear that little voice that tells you "not enough!" It would be pretty hard to want to keep going right?
Letting go of perfectionism will allow you to embrace yourself and your health journey, no matter where you are in it or what it looks like. By allowing yourself the space and love to make mistakes or have setbacks, you allow yourself the gift of sustainability in your health journey. The truth is, there is not one right way of eating, living, or practicing fitness, and there is definitely not one right way to look. Everyone goes on their own unique, beautiful, and powerful journeys which are all going to be filled with ups and downs. So, by letting go of this idea that there is a perfect weight, a perfect way to look, or a perfect way to live your life, you give yourself the freedom and love needed to continue working on becoming healthier and happier.
To be honest, perfectionism is still something I struggle with today, so I've learned a few tips and tricks that I remind myself of whenever needed! Here are a few things that help me, and might help you too:
Tips for letting go of perfectionism and embracing acceptance:
- Allow yourself a safe space for setbacks
- Practice self-care
- Try speaking to yourself the way you would to a loved one
- Take breaks when needed
- Remind yourself that health is a lifelong journey, and that ups and downs are normal
- Talk to a loved one when going through a difficult time
- Reach out and ask for help when you need it
Accepting that everything in our lives, including the health journeys we embark on, are going to have "imperfect" moments is so important to seeing real, long-lasting, and sustainable results.