Do you consider yourself a perfectionist (or either of its close relatives, the lazy perfectionist or the imperfect perfectionist)? Please refer to the article 15 Struggles Only Perfectionists Would Understand. If you find yourself there, you’re far from being alone. While the 2010 article Real Learning: Meet the Perfectionists mentioned that the general population contains approximately 30% perfectionists, that percentage has been steadily increasing; especially among young people worldwide, according to a Harvard Business Review article by Thomas Curran and Andrew P. Hill (Perfectionism Is Increasing, And That’s Not Good News). In the same article, the authors make reference to their published research which discusses the idea that perfectionism might be behind the recent rise in serious mental illness.
15 Struggles Only Perfectionists Would Understand
Real Learning: Meet The Perfectionists
Perfectionism Is Increasing, And That’s Not Good News
As a perfectionist myself, I know what it’s like to feel overwhelmed and get lost in small details and endless tweaking. Although I realize that perfectionism is counter-productive, as it causes a lot of busy work and often leads to procrastination and even paralyzing fear, it’s still a habit that can be very hard to keep under control. Over the years, however, I’ve learned a few tools that have helped me (and can also help you) in the journey to become a functional perfectionist:
1) HAVE A PLAN. You are much more likely to achieve your goals and remain focused if you take the time to put together a detailed plan of action, or at least a solid outline of action steps to help keep you on track. However, try not to get too caught up into making lists and organizing the process, or nothing will get done!
2) CATCH YOURSELF! Focus, prioritize and continuously remind yourself of what really matters. Why are you here? What are your main goals, or what do you aim to accomplish or achieve? Who do you want to serve (or for whom do you do what it is that you do, or want to do)?
3) JUST DO IT! According to Marie Forleo, life coach, motivational speaker, author and owner of B-School and web television MarieTV, “perfectionism will kill your dream. It is the one thing that separates winners from the wannabe’s in almost every area of life.” She also says that none of us are immune to this; we can all slip into that mindset if we’re not careful. So her mantra is “go for progress, not perfection.” This is not about lowering your standards; it’s about stopping endless tweaking (which often is a manifestation of procrastination caused by fear) and focusing on what really matters: Results. “If you wait to get it perfect, Marie affirms, “you’ll never get it out there.” So do it before you think you’re ready! This is also how you learn and evolve; and there is no shame in growing and improving your work, once it’s already out there.
Why Perfectionism Will Crush Your Productivity — And How To Stop It
4) TRICK YOUR BRAIN INTO ACTION. Mel Robbins shares excellent tips on how to work around the brain’s tendency to stall or block action, especially when you’re suffering from analysis paralysis:
Mel Robbins: 5 Second Rule
How to Stop Screwing Yourself Over - Mel Robbins
Mel Robbins on The High 5 Habit — It’s Weird, But it Works
5) TAKE FREQUENT 5 R’S BREAKS (RELEASE, RECHARGE, RESET, REDIRECT AND REFOCUS). Your mind really needs breaks, and you’ll notice that you’ll be much more productive if you take them throughout the day. Brendon Burchard, one of the top motivation coaches and marketing trainers in the world, suggests taking a 5 or 10 minute break every 50 minutes to stand up and stretch; breathe deeply and get some oxygen in your body and brain while repeating “release, recharge, reset” in your mind; take a bathroom break; drink water; play with your pet or something that is relaxing for 10 minutes.
To redirect and refocus, Brendon also suggests that you ask yourself the following questions before you get busy again: Who needs me in my A game right now? How can I show up at my best? What are my priorities right now? What will advance me the most towards my goals?
5 50-Minute Habits Get You 30% More Productive (and Energized)
50x50 Productivity Formula PDF
4 Steps To Restart A Bad Day
BONUS BENEFIT: Recent research suggests that taking even a 5 minute break every hour to move your body (walking, stretching, etc) is more effective to improve your mood and promote well-being than a single longer walk or exercise routine before or after work.
Work. Walk 5 Minutes. Work.
6) GET HELP! If you catch yourself procrastinating often due to lack of focus or fear, take the time to examine what might be behind this pattern. There are many available therapies and techniques that can help you release, resolve and remove any fears, blocks, barriers, negative core beliefs or illusions of limitations that are in your way. Some examples are: Hypno-coaching, cognitive behavioral therapy, meditation, yoga, etc.
7) DON’T BEAT YOURSELF UP! If you slip back into your old patterns of procrastination and perfectionism, simply acknowledge it and shift back your focus to positive action steps and habits that get you moving forward. Release all that guilt and shame, and choose to be gentle with yourself.
8) AS THE TITLE SAYS... You don't have to feel like you are in a perfect place to help others; showing up as a real person actually helps to better engage and connect with your audience. You can share your own struggles and use that as an opportunity to demonstrate how much the tools you practice have helped you overcome challenges and continue to make a difference in how you navigate your own life. In other words, you don’t have to be perfect; you just need to be functional (most of the times)! You’ve learned the tools, so you can now demonstrate and teach these tools to help others.
9) PUT YOUR PERFECTIONISM TO GOOD USE! As with everything, being a perfectionist has a good side; perfectionists often live up to the high standards they impose upon themselves and deliver first-rate results. The trick is to learn when to turn the perfectionism tendency down a notch or two and find the right balance. A good question to ask yourself: Is perfectionism causing you to procrastinate or freeze up, or holding you back in any other way?
10) ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR VICTORIES! Take time to appreciate and celebrate yourself at every turn, whenever you manage to accomplish your goals or important milestones towards your goals. Reward yourself and enjoy some well-deserved rest and play time.
FINAL THOUGHT: BE CURIOUS AND PERSISTENT! According to Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love and Big Magic, among other successful books, “all my most fruitful seeking and making in life has been born out of curiosity, and hopefully always will be. I feel like curiosity and stubbornness have been the two guiding stars of my existence as a writer, in particular. (The author Robert Stone once quipped, recognizably, that he had the two worst character faults possible in a writer — that he was lazy, and a perfectionist. I've always thought that if you can trade those two creativity-killing traits out for simply being curious and stubborn, then you are ON YOUR WAY.)”
Gisele Marasca-Vargas; 07/13/2023
Image by Brett Jordan on Unsplash
Becoming A Functional Perfectionist
The Charge: Activating The 10 Human Drives That Make You Feel Alive, by Brendon Burchard
High Performance Habits, by Brendon Burchard
Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert
You Aren't Lazy — You're Just Terrified: On Paralysis And Perfectionism
Is Mental the New Normal?
As I previously shared on my ANTIDEPRESSANTS VS. PLACEBO: And The Winner Is... article (please see under References):
“According to NAMI - National Alliance on Mental Illness, approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. (which corresponds to 43.8 million or 18.5%) experiences mental illness in a given year; and approximately 1 in 25 adults in the U.S. (corresponding to 10 million or 4.2%) experiences a serious mental illness in a given year that substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities (for more numbers, please see link under References). That means a staggering amount of people with some level of mental health challenge. Considering that a whole lot of people don’t seek help and go undiagnosed, the real numbers are likely to be even scarier.
No wonder words like OCD, OCPD, bipolar, borderline personality disorder, schizophrenia, PTSD, chronic depression, etc, have become commonplace. Look around yourself. How many friends or family members display behavior that has been qualified as (or suggested to be) a mental health disorder of some kind? Or look in the mirror. When was the last time you’ve felt emotionally, mentally and physically (not to mention spiritually) healthy and balanced? Have you or someone you know been diagnosed with a mental health challenge, or do you suspect you or someone you know might have such a challenge?
One thing is certain: when a system says that a big chunk of the population has some type of mental health issue that requires medication, maybe it’s time to change a lot of things in that system. Mere common sense dictates that something is seriously wrong with that picture.”
Whichever the sources of such a dismal state are, the main question is: What do we do with this knowledge? Do we hide? Do we numb ourselves with soft and hard addictions? Do we convince ourselves that we’ll never be good enough to follow our dreams or achieve anything in life? Or do we make the decision to become comfortable with who we are in this phase of our lives, seek wholesome solutions and put our issues to good use?
What We Can Do:
- We can use mindfulness tools and holistic therapies such as Hypnotherapy.
- We can explore brain stimulation and biofeedback therapies such as Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation or Neurofeedback (please see the articles under References).
- We can share our story and help inspire others to deal with their own mental issues.
- We can empower ourselves and choose to put our hurdles to good use! What we often consider to be our flaws or issues can be used in positive ways to help ourselves and others, by simply learning how to redirect these shadow aspects of ourselves and channel that energy towards accomplishing our goals and dreams!
What’s something about yourself that may have a negative side, but can also be used in positive ways?
© Gisele Marasca-Vargas; 05/18/23
Photo by Sydney Sims on Unsplash
ANTIDEPRESSANTS VS. PLACEBO: And The Winner Is...
Transcranial magnetic stimulation
Neurofeedback: A Comprehensive Review on System Design, Methodology and Clinical Applications
As some of you may know, I recently lost my father. [If you’d like to know more, please see the tribute to him that I posted on Facebook: TO DAD, WITH LOVE.]
Since many of my family members, friends and acquaintances have also suffered the loss of loved ones recently (and in the past 3 years, especially due to Covid), I’m sharing the revised version of an article about loss and grief that I published in 2018. My hope is that it will help you with your grief process. Blessings, Gisele
© Gisele Marasca-Vargas; 01/23/23
LOSS IS ABOUT MORE THAN WHO OR WHAT WE LOSE
My husband and I recently lost one of the rescue cats we’d been sheltering, feeding and trying to get adopted. His name was Solo, a sweet, gentle and friendly Tuxedo cat who was very loving and protective of the other cats in the colony; especially his smaller siblings. After a week-long search, we found poor Solo’s body in a neighbor’s yard, close to the fence between our homes. We believe he got into some rat poison. It was quite shocking to find him that way. I wept inconsolably because of the sad way he died, as well as the condition of his body, which was already in the first stages of decomposition; and for not having had the chance for a proper goodbye. But I also cried for not having realized how seriously ill he was and tried to do more about it (he had looked shaky and non-responsive a week before, so we tried to catch him to take him to the vet but he escaped, and because we couldn’t find anything visibly wrong and he seemed to be doing better, we decided to just keep an eye on him; unfortunately, that was the last time we saw him alive). I also wept for not having been able to find him a permanent home soon enough; for the deep pain I witnessed and felt in my husband, who had developed a soft spot for Solo; but above all, I cried for the kind of world we live in, where too many living beings suffer from neglect and ill-treatment, and where too many are killed so casually and mindlessly, often just for our convenience.
After my husband asked permission to enter the neighbor’s backyard, we went together to pick up Solo’s remains and bring him back to our house, the place that was never meant to be his permanent home but was the only home he knew for the almost three years of his life, ever since he was just a little kitten hiding with his siblings under our shed. We buried him in our backyard, saying our final goodbyes. Ironically, about a week later someone called and asked if Solo was still available for adoption. They were looking for a neutered Tuxedo male to keep company with a Tuxedo female who had recently lost her companion. Solo would have been perfect. The call came about two weeks too late.
A few days later, we attended an event with a few friends and acquaintances. One of the people there was a man who had lost his younger son to suicide just a few months before. I can’t even imagine the kind of pain that man had gone (and was still going) through. I also remember feeling embarrassed about how much I was still suffering for the loss of our rescue cat, and how self-conscious I felt after a friend asked what was wrong with me, and I shared it with him. I caught myself trying to justify what I was feeling and why I was still feeling that way.
Over the years I’ve suffered my share of losses, as everyone else. In the past year alone, my grandmother (with whom I had a very special connection) and a cousin-in-law (a special and wonderful young woman with whom I also shared a special connection) passed away. In addition to Solo, we also lost three other rescue cats; one was them was especially hard, as it was a sweet little kitten who got severely sick and had to be put to sleep. I still carry all of them with me.
As these events caused me to muse about loss more than usual; and considering that every single one of us deals with loss on a regular basis, I decided to write down some thoughts and feelings in relation to this important and reoccurring theme.
1) Loss is always about much more than who or what you lose. As it happened in relation to the death of Solo the rescue cat, loss can bring up many other issues to the surface, including fear of death, feelings of powerlessness and hopelessness, etc. Generally speaking, the more significant the loss, the more intense the grief. However, as our losses can be connected with so many different aspects of our beings and existence (including past experiences of loss), the significance of each loss is quite personal and individual.
2) Loss is loss is loss. There’s no competition or comparison in grief... In other words, no loss should be considered greater or lesser than another; comparing losses is an exercise in futility. There’s no right or wrong here. So I shouldn’t have compared my grief for the loss of our rescue cat with the grief of the gentleman who lost his son. Losses cannot be compared by quantity or quality. Of course, it’s still a good rule of thumb to not try to engage someone who just lost his son to suicide by speaking about the loss of your rescue cat. Each person tends to feel very intensely about their own loss and most likely wouldn’t respond well to a comment that might elicit or imply comparison, especially if they are still grieving. When someone is in need to sympathy for their loss, it’s always better to address their needs without bringing up your own loss, anyway. However, you should be able to go through your own grief process without guilt or shame. Which bring us to the following thought:
3) There’s no shame in loss. Or there shouldn’t be. Easier said than done, as I happened to demonstrate with my own personal experience. However, that’s what we should strive for: understanding that grief due to loss is a natural feeling that needs to be honored and experienced without guilt or shame. In spite of the fact that many of us believe in a higher realm where souls are eternal, it’s still hard to disconnect ourselves from the pain caused by the very real losses in our physical world. The thing is, we are also physical beings, and it is OK to acknowledge and feel loss in this realm, no matter what our spiritual beliefs may be.
4) Suffering more for the loss of one person (or animal companion, etc) over another doesn’t mean caring more for one over the other. Among other things, the circumstances involving someone’s death can make it harder for the people who survive them. As I mentioned above, I lost my grandmother and my cousin-in-law just a few months apart in the past year. Although I was a lot closer to my grandmother than I was to my cousin-in-law, in some ways I suffered my cousin-in-law’s death more intensely. That’s because my grandmother died at the age of 97, having lived a full life, having had the chance to see most of her family for her 97th birthday celebration a couple of weeks before (with family coming from out of state and even of of the country), and having her wish for a good death fulfilled (she died peacefully in her sleep, and mostly in good health). My cousin-in-law, however, was only 41 and died painfully of cancer in the prime of her life, leaving her husband and her 6-year-old son behind, not to mention a mother who had recently lost her husband (my cousin-in-law’s father) to cancer, and whose son (my cousin-in-law’s brother) also has cancer.
5) Those of us who are highly sensitive people (HSP) and empaths might feel loss even more deeply. As I mentioned on my blog article “This Is Too Much!!!” About Highly Sensitive People, what is moderately stimulating to most people is overwhelming to highly sensitive people, who make up about 18 to 20% of the population. One more reason why it’s wise to not compare degrees of grief and loss.
6) The grieving process is not linear. So we shouldn’t expect it to follow a preset pattern. For instance, although the five stages of grief and loss (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance, as per Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’s model) are a generally accepted standard, we can’t expect to go through one by one and be done with it. While some stages might be easily identifiable, others might be hardly noticeable or existent. It’s also common to swing back and forth among them, mix them up and even create a few combos of our own... So it’s better to just go with the flow, accepting and honoring our own process as it is.
7) There is no statute of limitation in relation to loss. Therefore, there should be no rules concerning when and how we are supposed to “get over” a loss. Of course, the exception should be that it’s advisable to seek help to cope with grief and loss whenever that is leading to self-destructive and other destructive behavior.
8) There’s always loss. We are always (and will always be) losing someone or something throughout our entire lives. Accepting this basic principle can help us through the losses we’re certain to suffer. The more acceptance we can muster, the less we grieve. Yes, easier said than done, but a state of mind to work towards nonetheless.
9) Loss and change often go arm in arm. The reverse is also true. Change is the fiber of life; so is loss. We lose people (friends, family, romantic partners, etc), jobs, homes, opportunities, memories... But there’s always another where that one came from. Which brings us to the next thought about loss:
10) Something to lose, something to gain. The upside of loss is gain. We often gain a lot from our losses, from deeper understanding and awareness, maturity, etc, to new people, things or circumstances that come into our lives to fill that void or empty space and redirect our sense of purpose. It’s a natural law of the universe. The gentleman who lost his son knows painfully well that no one can ever replace him; but he has another son who now needs him more than ever. Some people who go through similar tragedies also choose to get involved in support groups and volunteer for organizations that have suicide prevention lines. In our case, just a few days after Solo was gone another stray Tuxedo cat showed up at our door, needing food and shelter. Of course, the newcomer can never replace Solo, who will always be in our hearts. But it is the nature of our universe to create new relationships and circumstances once previous ones are gone.
11) Loss is an illusion. We take loss very personally and focus on the feeling that someone or something has been taken away from us; we even express it that way by talking about “our” losses. However, nothing and no one really belong to us during our temporary passage through this world, do they? In addition, if we believe in the eternity of our souls or energy beings, and that nothing is wasted in the universe, only transformed, then loss doesn’t really exist from a broader perspective. Likewise, if we get more scientific and consider the quantum physics principles involving space/time and alternate realities. Whatever set of beliefs floats our boat, it’s worth a try. Maybe believing that loss is an illusion or that everything happens for a reason won’t make us suffer any less; but it can offer some comfort. In my case, when things get tough I repeat to myself these well-known Abraham-Hicks words: “You are loved. All is well.”
12) We are simply not in control. One of the most important things that loss teaches us is that we are not in control. Concerning Solo, the truth of the matter is that my husband and I weren’t in control of our neighbor’s actions (using the rat poison), or Solo’s actions (eating the rat poison and then running away from our help). We were in control of our own actions, but only from a limited perspective and incomplete understanding of the whole situation. So, ultimately, we were not in control of what happened to him. And the bottom line is that everyone is always doing the best they can with what they know at any given moment. That’s worth remembering whenever we start getting into the blame game (blaming ourselves or others) concerning a loss.
13) We are not alone. There’s always help. That doesn’t mean we can’t take whatever time alone we need to mourn and grieve a loss. But there’s great value in allowing ourselves to be vulnerable and sharing it with others. For one, we are reminded that everyone of us deals with loss. In addition, if we are feeling spiritually disconnected due to loss and grief, sharing with others helps us reconnect and become part of the web of life again.
FINAL THOUGHT: If all else fails, remember these famous words: “This too shall pass...”
My heartfelt condolences to everyone in grief,
Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash
How do we keep ourselves from living our best lives?
Most of us are familiar with the terms fear of success or fear of failure; but do we really understand what these concepts mean, or do they feel mostly like abstractions that we can’t quite define or recognize within ourselves?
I’d guess that most of us, when making decisions and choices, are hardly ever conscious of the fact that we might be sabotaging ourselves due to our response to these fears and other limiting core beliefs. And yet, we tend to self-sabotage on a regular basis through many of our habits or patterns of thought, emotion and action.
If these patterns were easy to recognize and change, we’d already be ahead of this game. But such things are rarely obvious or easy to spot and address. That doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to do it or that we shouldn’t be continuously working on it, anyway.
We are certainly able to come up with convincingly valid reasons for hitting the brakes or checking out of life. Have you ever made a decision about changing something in your life that would bring positive results and forward-movement, only to find yourself grabbing onto the first available excuse (other people, life circumstances, etc) to interrupt the process? Don’t get me wrong, some of the causes for interruptions and change of course can be challenging, difficult obstacles to be surpassed. Life sometimes demands that we slow down or stop for justifiable reasons, such as the loss of loved ones and the consequent grieving process, or the management of a serious health issue, etc. It can be scary to get up and continue to move forward, especially after we take a fall or feel that life knocked us down; and that’s a particularly hard process for highly sensitive empaths. However, for many of us, that can also be reason enough to stop progress all together. Of course, I’m not referring to the normal (and quite necessary) rest and relaxation pauses and stops, along with play time, that all of us should take to be able to recharge; I’m talking about giving up.
More often than not, the most valid excuses mask our deepest fears, which is a fact that we can’t get away with ignoring forever. If we dig deeply enough, we are bound to recognize that life constantly scares us (especially in these intense healing and transformational times) and we don’t need much of an excuse to want to stop on our tracks or even go on reverse, if at all possible. The problem is that we’re not built to continuously hide or retract; sooner or later, our mind, body and spirit start paying the price for staying out of the stream of life for too long.
How long is too long? There’s no easy answer, but we know what happens when we choose to hide and avoid for unhealthily long periods; we’ve all been there and dealt with the consequences. We ‘re quite aware that, at a certain point, the Universe starts nudging us forward; if we continue ignoring the nudges, they eventually become full-out, impossible-to-ignore slaps on the back of the head or kicks in the heinie… So, rather than waiting for that to start happening again, it’s best if we take some time to consider in which areas of our lives we have slowed down too much or stopped the flow. Awareness is half the way; even the process of acknowledging stagnated areas and the need to start moving forward again can open the door for the next phase of the journey to begin.
These uncertain times call for taking a leap of faith as we continue to move forward, trusting that the path will reveal itself as we take the next step.
What’s one small step you can take to move towards your goals and dreams today?
© Gisele Marasca-Vargas; 08/04/22
Image by Ana Pilar from Pixabay
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