Dropping perfectionism in a time of crisis.

Nicola Harker, doctor and women's trauma specialist, suggests that perfectionism holds us back in times of crisis

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I'm a recovering perfectionist.  There I've said it.  I used to struggle with showing that I was struggling and that I was not perfect, but I'm getting better at it. 

We are all in a tough situation, and there are many personal reasons that you might be struggling right now.  If you or your close family or friends are being directly affected by this virus situation, as many of my friends and clients are, I'm thinking about you and sending love.

But many people I speak to are also struggling with not managing very well in lockdown, feeling like they should be doing better, achieving more, being different from how they are.  Some are quite enjoying the forced downtime at home but feeling guilty about that.  Others are feeling anxious and overwhelmed, and particularly are finding it very difficult to motivate themselves.

If that applies to you, I want to draw your attention to this fact:  HOPE is linked to STRUGGLE.  What I mean is that it's sometimes important to allow yourself to struggle.  When you try to always be
perfect, when you push away struggle and try to smooth over the surface and pretend everything is ok, you are missing out on opportunities to grow and learn. 

You may already know that it's important to let children struggle rather than swooping in to solve every difficulty because it's through struggle that they learn and they overcome.

But how often do you apply the same logic to yourself?

Struggle is a necessary part of learning, and through struggle comes HOPE.

HOPE isn't an emotion; it's a way of thinking.  Emotions definitely play a supporting role, but hope is cultivated by having certain factors in place:

  1. The ability to set realistic goals. Knowing what you want and what you're aiming for.  The way that I do this is to spend 5 minutes early each morning thinking about what I want to feel by the end of the day, and setting my goals around that ambition.
  2. The ability to figure out how to achieve those goals, including having a flexible plan.  Flexibility is key here because life inevitably throws up challenges.  Being able to tolerate disappointment and failure and pick yourself up again is one of the golden secrets of being happily imperfect!
  3. You believe in yourself. "I can do this!"  This one sounds simple, but in order to get good at this one I needed to tackle my internal voice that kept saying "You idiot, you messed up!  Why did you think you could do this?!" and change that into "I know you want to do this, I know you've not quite got the skills yet, but with practice you will get there".

Nicola Harker

Coach and Mentor (ex-doctor) and teacher of Self-Compassion, Nicola Harker Coaching

Using neuroscience, self-compassion techniques and coaching as well as high-performance techniques I help my clients free their potential and get back to their true selves so that they can thrive in life.