In an earlier blog posting, I wrote about the upside of being a perfectionist. I shared how a perfectionist can use his perfectionist tendencies to move towards higher levels of consciousness. But as he strives grow and evolve, he realizes that he has to leave his old self behind. My clients often express remorse during this part of their transition. They are accustomed to being and doing it all, even at the expense of their health and peace of mind. However, a new way of being and a sense of peace, (which is usually what they state their goal as) requires establishing boundaries and taking care of themselves instead of others or work/chores.
One of my clients has such a story. Known as “the rock” of the family, he took care of everyone. He made sure things were in place, finances were taken care of, other people were happy, etc., but in order to do so, he had to shut down his emotions. One of the main goals during our sessions was to have him tune into his mind and body so he could experience his feelings, emotions, and pain (physical pain). As he progressed in doing that, he also expressed that he missed being the ‘old Tom’ because people could rely and count on him. Furthermore, he disliked how others were reacting to his change. One day, while in a vulnerable state, he told his wife, “I am trying to be emotional you know.” She responded by saying, “I know. You are not your old self.” He did not like hearing that. He wanted peace of mind, connection with the Self, and to be his “old Self.” “I like being the rock,” he shared with me. In this moment I knew Tom was struggling with shedding old, comfortable, but ultimately unhealthy behaviors and thought patterns, even he gained understanding, awareness, and emotional health. “Tom, you’re not a superman. You need to go through this vulnerability to gain the peace of mind you are looking for.” He questioned me back, “But why am I not a superman?” (a sign of a perfectionist trying to be the best at everything).
I tell this story to point out that sometimes perfectionists block their emotions to the extent so much that they lose touch of their true Selves. And after years of blocking and ignoring their emotions, they often struggle to fully feel and express them. I am often asked: how not to be a perfectionist, how to deal with perfectionism, how to deal with a perfectionist, etc. You cannot stop being a perfectionist, it’s the way you see the world. However, you can learn to effectively cope with your perfectionist tendencies.
If you are a perfectionist, you don’t have to block your emotions. You can learn to fully experience the wide range of human emotions without being ruled by them. You can be both strong and vulnerable at the same time. In fact, both are required on the path to self-actualization, which is paradoxical in nature. The truth is that we live in a paradoxical universe. According to quantum physics, both the solidity of the particle-like and the fluidity of the wave-like are required to create reality we experience with the human senses. The reality we know will cease to exist if only one component is present. It is the paradoxical universe we live in. The same is true of strength. Strength does not mean absence of vulnerability; in fact, it is necessary to be strong. So, dare to be vulnerable, if you want to be strong like a superman.