How to take your power back from your inner perfectionist

When things don’t go as planned – or don’t go as perfectly as our adorable inner perfectionist would like to demand that they do – it’s tempting to fall into that all-or-nothing (perfectionist) mindset where we tell ourselves some variation of:

I’ve screwed everything up

I blew that completely

Now it’s ruined

All my work is wasted

I’m going to have to start over…. on Monday.

Ever been there?

A few things:

  1. Life (and our plans) will rarely unfold perfectly. We won’t ever be “perfect” and missteps or bad days don’t mean we’ve ruined anything. They just mean … missteps and bad days. We can learn from them, shrug them off, and we can always keep moving forward.
  2. Progress is not all or nothing. Everything isn’t ruined when you make the wrong choices, lose your motivation, or mindlessly make your way through a bag of chips. Picture your path forward as a trail. You’ve simply stepped off the trail. Whether you’re a few feet or a few miles off course, it doesn’t matter. Your only job (if you liked the path you were on) is to adjust your direction with your very next steps. Just start walking back toward the trail – it can be that simple.
  3. The worst part about the perfectionist belief that “you’ve ruined things and now you have to restart” is usually the behavior you engage in after you decide you’ve blown it, and before you restart (on magical Monday, or whenever your perfectionist decides). All or nothing thinking dictates that this gap of time doesn’t matter, so you might as well keep on heading off course. Not helpful to your results or your self esteem.

Restarting is a misnomer. You’re not restarting. You haven’t lost all the work you did up until that point, nor have you lost anything you’ve learned along the way.

Instead of restarting, I recommend resetting

Resetting is something you can do immediately, as soon as you recognize that you’re not as much on course as you’d like to be. You can reset after you overeat, or when you feel stressed, or overwhelmed. You can reset after you skip a workout or when you realize you’ve been missing your daily me-time, or when you find yourself mindlessly reaching for something to eat when you aren’t hungry.

Think of a reset as a deep, cleansing breath

It’s a way to clear the air, relax your body a little bit, and get back in touch with yourself. A reset is a way to shift your thinking from automatic or negative thoughts towards a focus that is helpful to you.

A reset is a way of stepping back into your power

When you reset you move from reacting to circumstances, to being in a place where you can make intentional choices about your wellbeing, your eating, and your life. A reset puts you back in the driver’s seat, and you never have to wait until Monday, or even the start of a new hour to do it.

10 Ways to Reset when You’re Stressed, Overwhelmed, or Overeating

  1. Take a deep cleansing breath, or three or four. Deep breathing actually resets your nervous system and helps engage your relaxation response. Focus on feeding your body deep breaths of oxygen, inhaling positive energy and thoughts, and exhaling stress, overwhelm, and tension.
  2. Clear your mind. Spend less than four minutes watching this.
  3. Pick one, super easy thing that you associate with being “on track” that you can do in the next 20 minutes. Do it. The key here is to take a positive step and break the “being off track” cycle. It doesn’t matter that the step is small (it should be). Drink a glass of water, go get 100 steps, take your vitamins, make a grocery list, do a plank, wash some salad greens. Just do something “on track” and, just like that, you’re moving in the right direction again.
  4. Plug and play. I designed these ten minute audios specifically for those situations when you need a reset and don’t have the time or energy to design your own. Put in your earphones and hit play. Fast, and easy peasy.
  5. Music can do wonders. Put on your most inspiring song or playlist. Shift your energy so you can shift your thinking and your actions.
  6. Get present. Perfectionists live in the past (what went well or went “wrong”) or in the future (what still needs to be done). Write NOW on a sticky note and put it where you can see it. Your goal for the day is to take care of yourself NOW and no other time. What do I need NOW? What would help me NOW? What’s the best move I can make NOW? That’s all you have to focus on.
  7. Talk to yourself about the future – the near future. Ask yourself how you want to feel at the end of the day today. What are three things you can actually do to move you in this direction?
  8. Harness compassion. If you’ve been hijacked by your adorable perfectionist, odds are that you can use some compassion. If you were to talk to and treat yourself like you do your best friend, what kind words, compassion, or advice would you have in this situation? How would you treat yourself?
  9. Give yourself credit. If you got off track or your motivation fizzled, there’s a reason this happened. I’m not talking about playing the martyr here, but about being realistic. What can you learn from why things didn’t go as planned so that you can move forward from here? Were your expectations too high? Did you get too hungry? Was there a situation or a challenge you hadn’t anticipated? Find the value in what happened and it will be easier to let go of the past, and be in the present.
  10. Don’t overcomplicate. Your inner perfectionist wants to make restarting laborious and not fun. K.I.S.S. – Keep it simple sweetheart. It’s all good. Where ever you are, right now, you’re moving forward. That’s why you just read this. Give yourself credit for one positive step taken. Take a deep breath, and take that next step.

Talk soon,

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