After years of trouble and strife, much hard “self work” and a good deal of therapy; I’ve come to some realisations about the mind. Firstly talking is great if done properly with a counsellor or therapist. Secondly perfectionism is my nemesis. Thirdly setting boundaries and expectations saves a lot of headaches for everyone.
There are other realisations after 15 years of working on my mental health but these three are the most important to me right now. I think they are three of the most powerful and rewarding for anyone to tackle really, because they open up a life of balance, fulfilment and possibility.
Perfectionism is such an important topic to me that I have begun my next book on it. However like so many problems we face it is not something quick to fix by reading a book or listening to a motivational talk. It takes time, committed action and a consistency beyond the feel good phase of a new challenge. Even now as I write about it I am not preaching from a position of complete success. But rather I have learnt through trial and error that it’s possible to change from perfectionism to seeking high standards.
If you saw my little Instagram/Facebook post yesterday I showed a photo of the new lounge shelf I made. Before that I had finished two balcony bars for a client and was also happy with the results. With both of these jobs I have had to deal with my inner critic pushing perfectionism on me. In producing to a high standard without obsessing over the tiniest details I am slowly building up my defences against this inner critic. I am showing to him and myself that “good enough” is good enough. That I can enjoy the process and the completed product without adding the stress of striving for perfectionism.
It actually makes me tear up thinking that for the first time in years I am happy about something I made. Even with all the book writing I have done so far this year I have struggled at times to feel any happiness about the finished product. I am 37 years old and I can’t remember the last time I finished a carpentry job, a PT session or a piece of writing and felt happy about it. Like truly happy and proud. I’ve certainly felt satisfied, content maybe, but not happiness. I am painfully aware how sad that sounds. But that’s how much perfectionism and depression have screwed with my emotions.
Before I sign off I’ll let you in on a little secret about my therapy. I have been going for 8-9 months now. It’s incredible. Not in a lightning flash, “ta-da!”, you are cured way. But like a big piece of beef in the slow cooker kind of way; everything gradually softens, soaks up the goodness and it’s like you are tasting all the flavours for the first time. It began way before sitting down with “the doc” though, I have my wife Catherine and coach Kristi to thank for helping me get there. But the last couple of months I’ve been able to honestly feel emotions, rather than “putting on a face”, faking it, or just suppressing it all. It’s like I have been allowed the cheat codes to my brain and realised how it actually works. It’s amazing! I just wish it hadn’t taken me over 15 years to sit down and talk with someone.
That’s how I have reached the point of being able to write about perfectionism and procrastination and really understand how long it can take to get past it. I hope that my new book, like my others, will help someone to get a step further in their own self development.
Until then stay sane,