Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Breaking the Habit of Perfection Thinking

The other day on my facebook page I said that I was going to work on holding myself to such a high standard of perfection.I tend to hold myself to such a high standard that it's like a constant pressure.  You know that feeling when you have a really important project approaching due,date? One that is challenging, and is crucial that it's done well and on time?   That's how I live my life, everyday with everything that I do.  

I think that I've made a few other posts on here about being more mindful about time, and how my thoughts get carried away, but I seem to forget.  It's like a good habit that you want to pick up, that you fully intend to incorporate into your day, but somehow it slips away bit by bit, until you don't even realize that you're not keeping up with it at all anymore. I think that I need to work on little chunks at a time to be more successful.  Like, instead of just telling myself that I'll be more compassionate with myself, I need to list specific examples.  I think that if I continue to involve the daily habit of slowing down my thinking and being easier on myself my world would be infinitely happier.  There would be less depression, less anger, less frustration, less anxiety and less meltdowns.

I'm thinking that I might write them down.  Maybe put them here, or on my facebook page?  Maybe just leave them in a notebook for me to see?  The biggest thing is for me to write down the thoughts that come into my head that may be contributing to my feelings of depression and anxiety. Once that I get them on paper, I can see them as their own, without they being apart of me.  That moment of separation is key, because when we think something that triggers an emotional reaction, often we are already in the reacting phase without even thinking about whether our thought is true and where it fits in the direction we want our day to go in.

For example, yesterday I had a doctor's appointment. I was terribly restless about being weighed. I was terrified that the doctor would think that I was fat, or say something bad about my appearance.  So, I guess I could write it down like this:
Thought: I'm fat.  The doctor is going to tell me to diet or the nurse is going to think badly of me for my weight.
What would happen if that actually were true?: I'd feel ashamed of myself for being sub par.
How would this thought and subsequent feeling shape your mood and actions?  I'd begin to feel sad, depressed and paranoid that everyone else thought this, too.  I might begin to resentfully eat less and exercise more. I might even avoid some social situations due to feeling inadequate.
Is this how you want to live?  Is this living the life you value and does these thoughts and subsequent actions push you in the direction of your goals and values?: No.  I don't value being depressed and sad.  I don't want to avoid people, because of my anxieties.  I value being a happy mother and wife and to be the best person I can be.
What thought can you replace it with that might be better in tuned to your personal goals?:  I'm not fat. I don't know what the doctor thinks.  I'll have to wait and see what happens and what she says to do. There's no use in making up the scenario in my head now and getting upset over something that may never be.  I am going to move my energy into something that matters more to me than this.

Also, in some cases I may be able to add something about past experiences to help me move through unwanted thoughts.  In this case, my doctor told me to stop losing weight and not to over-exercise.  The nurse even said that I was super small, so this time it was an irrational thought to begin with.  The next time a weight related anxiety comes up I can try to use this experience as a reference to what thoughts might be better due to the unanimous opinion that this one (while very real and powerful to me) is irrational.

Of course this was just a small taste of the OCD fueled irrational, and anxious thoughts that go through my head on a daily basis making me nervous and feeling so deflated by the end of the day.  This would probably not be this way if I'd been raised more compassionately, but nothing I can do about that now.  I can't change the past, even if what it left me with is unfair.  I can only change how I am and how I deal with things. So, I'm hoping that with some effort things will improve and if you're struggling with a similar problem that things will improve for you, too.