Toxic Perfectionism

This week on the podcast we sat down with Shawne to talk about Toxic Perfectionism

How to better FLEX through life, with your hosts Amy V. and Thea M. We’re going to talk about how Mental Health and Fitness intersect, we give you the tricks to better flex through everything to help you create the life you want.  Amy is a Therapist, an expert in trauma with lots of personal experiences in Fitness. Thea is a Personal trainer, an expert in the Fitness world with lots of personal experiences with trauma. We’ll provide helpful lessons to better love yourself, overcome trauma and help you find the best version of you.  We’re 2 friends having a conversation and interviewing REALLY great people and sharing our reasons you should move your body to help get your mind right.

What is perfectionism?

Perfectionism is often defined as the need to be or appear to be perfect, or even to believe that it’s possible to achieve perfection. It is typically viewed as a positive trait rather than a flaw. People may use the term “healthy perfectionism” to describe or justify perfectionistic behavior. Often trying to be perfect we sabotage ourselves.

Being “perfect” shouldn’t be the goal if we are actively looking to improve.

Unhealthy perfectionism is characterized by an excessive focus on control. Perfectionists can become extremely picky and preoccupied with making sure that everything is flawless, which can lead to attempts to control situations or people. This can contribute to stress and take a toll on interpersonal relationships.

The stress caused by this level of perfectionism can lead to feelings of anxiety and has been linked to outcomes such as low self-esteem, eating disorders, sleep disturbances, and psychological distress.

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Amy and Shawne getting upside down!

 Hi all!  Amy here… Hijacking the blogpost again.  In this episode we are talking to Shawne Blackburn about toxic perfectionism.  I have had Shawne in my back pocket for an interview and was trying to decide how to best utilize her… in truth, she’ll probably be back because it’s so hard to peg her to one topic.  

I, initially, met Shawne in a professional capacity.  She was my clinical supervisor when I was an intern.  From then, our relationship blossomed into an amazing friendship, although I do still have her on a pedestal as a mentor.

Shawne popped into my head about someone who could speak to toxic perfectionism, not because she has these traits, but because she seems so perfect to me and sets a bar that I strive to achieve, but I know, realistically, that it’s probably not as effortless as she makes it look.  I wanted the secret!  And also the reassurance that maybe I’m not doing as bad as I think I am.  More importantly, I wanted to share that piece.

Having this conversation with Shawne has “pulled back the curtain” and made me more aware of the crazy high bar I hold myself to.  And Shawne said something, in the episode, that has stuck with me.  I knew this before, but it hits differently now… WE SET A HIGHER BAR FOR OURSELVES THAN WE DO FOR OTHERS.  And this seems to show itself in more ways than I had, initially, considered.  I set a ridiculous high standard for myself (let’s face it, I know I am capable of awesome things if I am willing to do the work necessary to achieve it).  The problem is when I don’t meet this high standard I have set for myself, my willingness to forgive myself is pretty low.  This becomes prime time for self-deprication and a lot of negative self-talk.  Sometimes it can get to a point where my failure becomes part of my identity.  It’s a long road back when we also have to climb out of that hole.

I really appreciate the reminder that we have to have some grace with the expectations we put on ourselves.  The idea that we have all these areas of our lives to keep track of in order to maintain “good health” helps to keep that at the forefront.  It’s easy to put all this pressure around fitness and nutrition and assess our success/failure when we are only looking at that one thing.  We don’t live in a vacuum.  Nutrition and fitness aren’t separate from the rest of our lives.  Our other obligations and priorities inform the effort we are willing to and have available to put into the various things.  So, in the few short weeks since engaging in this interview I have noticed that I have been more forgiving with myself because I am looking at all the things on my plate, not just the one.

This brings us to Shawne’s message that the most important piece is balance.  Balance can be challenging to achieve.  This is because we often times wobble or even fall down before we find that magical point of balance.  Wobbling and falling down (mine is typically a face plant) don’t feel good, physically or psychologically.  My trick is a reframe.  A wobble or a faceplant isn’t a failure, it’s a learning opportunity (however painful).  If I can transform that pain into balance, it’s all worth it.