Are you a perfectionist?

Perfectionism is a mental dysfunction. In psychology, it’s referred to as a personality trait hyperfocused on flawlessness and perfect performances.

A young patient, Dina, was a scholar in the university. Her life has been an endless report card on grades, accomplishments, and looks.

One evening, Dina was rushed to the hospital by her father. Her sister found her slumped on the floor of her room with bloody cuts on the wrists.

She tried to end it all. That time, she could no longer keep up with her grades due to severe social anxiety.

What makes perfectionism toxic is its negativity. It’s overly anxious on avoiding failure, mistakes, and messes … an impossibility in reality.

Even if you express love to a perfectionist after some misses, it isn’t enough comfort. The perfectionist is way too dependent or conditional on performance to feel loved.

Psychology Today magazine explains,

“There is a difference between striving for excellence and demanding perfection. The need for perfection is transmitted in small ways from parents to children, some as silent as a raised eyebrow over a B rather than an A.”

If you’re struggling with perfectionism, remember that “you are good enough.” You are worthy as you are because you exist.

You don’t have to prove your value to anyone, even to yourself. God has already placed that value on you and your life.

“Perfection is an illusion. Yet perfectionists demand it from others while being far from flawless themselves. The margin of error of the human condition is often our greatest area of excellence and discovery,” reminds writer Stewart Stafford.

Christina

Christina, one of my patients, recalls how her mother would leave her working and sleeping with the maids. Away from the rest of her siblings in the house.

“The more I tried to please my mother, the more she’d put me down. All throughout my childhood, I wondered about this: I felt like an ‘insect’ rather than my mother’s child,” laments Christina.

Christina is a 50-year-old adult now. A wife and mother of 3 grown up boys. But she still feels like an “insect.”

Although she looks naturally pretty, she rarely appreciates what people say about her. Mostly she hardly looks people in the eyes.

Somehow, Christina figures that she is that way always. Her life today is safe and comfortable, but it’s barren and emotional destitute.

The “inner child” contains memories, images, and feelings of your childhood. Both conscious and unconscious. What is consciously remembered and what’s repressed or forgotten.

When a child is abused, traumatized, or deprived, the “inner child” splits from consciousness when being abused. But it carries repressed anger, rage, hurt and fear.

As you grew into adulthood, the repression from childhood and “splits” from consciousness remain. Even now, as an adult, you still have inside you the child you once were – your wounded inner child.

Healing the wounded inner child involves telling the story in therapy. Why is telling the story important?

Dr. Charles Whitfield eloquently explains,

“We begin to see the connections between what we are doing and what happened to us when we were little. As we share our story, we begin to break free of being a victim or a martyr, of the repetition compulsion.”

The Art of Detachment

Carol set limits.. She told her husband, “I feel so devastated by your affair. You even used our car to bring her out and to our vacation house. Despite your promise to stop it, you still continue. I want you out of the house. If you agree to seek help, maybe we can talk.”

Carol sought relief. But that’s not the reason why she did that. She did it for her. While she wished her unfaithful husband would make a turnaround, it’s out of her hands. She separated from her husband’s problem and responsibility without separating from him. She still cared to offer him help.”

Detachment. At times, it’s an only way we can do to survive overwhelming pain, frustration, and disappointment of our “broken dreams.” Its often a first step in reclaiming our lives. It can be our best hope towards recovery and wholeness.

First-aid emotional detachment teaches us to endure the unendurable, the inexplicable, the paradoxical. Not just in our selves or our relationships, but also in the world in general. Managing the difficult task of detachment frees us to go even amid unanswered questions.

I’m reminded of Mommy Wilma who learned to practice a “script” with her daughter. Wilma heaved a deep sigh of relief, after telling her daughter “I separate from your problem which is your responsibility without separating from you!”

Detachment is a conscious choice. An expression of our own will to survive.

 

When Your Adult Child Disappoints You (Part 2)

An important way for us parents to understand how our adult children turned out is to examine first the part we played. Ours, before theirs. One we can control. Then, learn and improve thereon.

Some parents do too much for their adult children. And some do too little or don’t do enough. Two extremes. A case of “sparing help” vs. “spoiling the child.”

The call is always for balance.

Antonio, now a senior citizen, never held a job all his life. He’s always given allowances by his prosperous mother. Even while married and raising four children, Antonio asked for everything from his Mom, from basic expenses to kids’ tuitions or car gasoline.

As a result, Antonio never found reason to be self-supportive and responsible even for his own family. He’s always in a state of limbo. Even at old age, still a “baby being fed. Antonio’s days as a perpetual freeloader have not been corrected.

Does his Mom’s giving him so much help destroy his motivation to help himself?

Parenting psychologist, Dr. Jane Adams, writes:

“Parents who give too much do so out of their own needs, not their children’s. They give out of unmet desires for love, attention, or self esteem; they give to compensate for early deprivation (in either generation); they give to change their adult children’s behavior or fill up the emptiness inside.”

At times, we parents must rescue ourselves first! While we cannot rescue our adult children from the dysfunctions and troubles of their own making, we do need to save ourselves from the habit of trying to rescue them all the time.

Otherwise, our “adultolescent” children will never be able to manage appropriate to their age and life stage without us. Time for growing up … and not to wait too long before it becomes too late.

Better Life Through “Manufactured Risk”

In the 70s, a psychology research project was done on the subject of “human wholeness.” In the interview of subjects, this question always came up: “What ingredients of wholeness would be common to anybody in any culture or society of the world?”

The responses were varied but implied that normalcy depends considerably from culture to culture. However, when pressed more deeply, the experts found a common key. In unique ways they heard: “A healthy person is someone who can choose risk and danger.”

I’ve known of a wealthy CEO of a large food company who loves riding his motorcycle, even commuting through it every so often. Once told that his main problem is a psychological “midlife crisis,” he was advised by his doctor to be careful and take it easy.

He decided not to take his doctor’s advice. He didn’t believe in middle age. If he avoids anything new or risky, he claimed, it would only hasten his whole aging process. No matter how stressful or boring his days at the office, his motorcycle drives gave him more energy and excitement.

Mother Teresa in India is another example. She chose a life of risk and danger in the worst slums of Calcutta. As a result of her adventures, she blessed her life as well as the lives of countless others all over the world, even for generations to come.

To be whole means to be open to creative risk. Outside of our comfort zone. Beyond our unrelieved boredom. Freeing ourselves from dull routine. When life is crushing you with boredom or routine, are you able to manufacture risk, adventure, and excitement to heighten your life?

Many years ago, I made a radical work change. I had safety and comfort where I was working. Then I accepted the call to be an independent practitioner, an entrepreneur, in my own field and passion. From there on, the risk and uncertainty of daily life in my “adventure” have made life exciting and stimulating for me.

As former world chess champion Gary Kasparov put it, “Attackers may sometimes regret bad moves, but it is much worse to forever regret an opportunity you allowed to pass you by.”

Is The Money Following You?

One of the things I often hear women in our society say is to find and marry a rich man. And indeed men often receive extra attention from women because they’re wealthy. It appears to matter less for a lot of these women if these rich men are corrupt, addicted, or abusive in some way.

I’ve heard of a Mom recently who wished a high paying job for her son. And it stopped there. She didn’t mention intrinsic values such as passion, fulfillment, or satisfaction. Her point for her son seemed to be to simply get a job that pays well, whatever it is.

I have no fight with making money. In reality, it’s a need we all have as part of our definition of adulthood. Making money is having the means to provide for our selves and families. It’s freedom from having to depend on others at least for our basic needs.

However, I’ve seen too many people wound or defeat themselves with money disorders. Their emphasis is wrongly placed. Either they focus too much on money that they compromise their health and values. Or, they just do what they enjoy but they couldn’t earn enough to support themselves and those who depend upon them.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote that “we are all born to grow rich through the use of our faculties.” Money is likely to follow the person who works with the natural talents, gifts, and passions given him. That frame allows him to make healthy choices, sound timing, and superior energies.

I have Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctorate degrees in the fields of psychology, counseling, and divinity. Once, I had false starts receiving offers to engage in other professions that pay much. Despite my investment, time, and effort, money did not follow. They were not meant for me.

Eventually, I chose to do work I love which focuses on helping people heal. I took my chances to go into private practice as a psychotherapist. How I discovered how so good and excited I am at this work! It turns out to be the right choice. The money followed, flowing naturally in abundance.

What I especially like is that I call my own shots … and branch out into cyberpreneurship leveraging what I already love doing! Rather than being intimidated by a culture that equates lots of money with worth as a person, my focus was on helping people and not making money.

Is the money following you? As long as you have the right focus and proper use of your in-born talents, it will. People who could handle the issue of money could manage their mind.

A Secret to Beat Depression

When you’re psychologically depressed, you’re behaviorally depressed. Your mind expects more pain than gain. Life doesn’t excite you any more. You feel you’re unfit for life. That depresses you even more.

One solution is pretty simple. Direct.

When you find your self – whether consciously or subconsciously – in a vicious cycle of depression and inactivity, keep moving.

Be more active! That’s the antidote. A proven prescription.

Cognitive behavioral therapies all teach the art of being more active to become less depressed. Among clinical psychologists and their dozens of studies, they’re convinced that a most powerful antidepressant is “successful performance.”

Christina had trouble being active again after suffering losses. Employments. Relationships. During our therapy sessions, its tremendous hard work for her to defy her depressive inertia, with its self doubts and crying spells.

After developing an inventory of activities, scheduling them, and working on her resistances, i stumbled upon a “vehicle.” Together, Christina and I experimented on launching a new business where she could be motivated to be active.

Having a strong desire to help people, her new business that does help people took off! She realized how it gives her purpose seeing others happy after she helps them with the product of her business. With her loved ones cheering her on, she became so active each day, knowing she’s making a difference.

Christina is one good example of “being active” in order to beat depression. Discovering her right niche and activities is the secret. That led Christina to her “successful performance” which gave her rewards and meaning to move on.

Patting her self on the back at every turn – learning to schmooze with her self big time! – Christina experienced the essence of a very effective cognitive behavioral therapy for depression.

Master Your Brain Health Without Drugs!