What My Visit to the Emergency Room Taught Me About the Beast Called Perfectionism

I’ve been having a hard time breathing lately … 

Why, you ask?

Let me explain …

On the President’s Day holiday, instead of enjoying a leisurely day with my family, I was in the Emergency Room of the hospital.

Memories from the ER

I was there because the right side of my chest hurt, bad.

This pain in my body had been going on for a few days and I was starting to get freaked out.

I had been recovering from a cough, then the flu (my husband Steven had it before me), and now I had this weird pain that I’d never had before.

When I explained this to Steven he thought I had pulled a muscle either from yoga or from my cough attacks I had been having.

But that diagnosis didn’t sit right with me. I know my body and know when things aren’t “right.”

So when Monday rolled around and the pain hadn’t gone away, I called my doctor. But because I hadn’t yet seen this particular doctor (I find little reason to go to a General Practitioner when I see an Ob-Gyn every year), I couldn’t get an appointment for another week. That wasn’t going to fly.

Off to the ER I went to get checked out. I don’t mess around with my health.

And since it was a holiday, of course the ER was busy (even for my rural hospital in the mountains) so I had to wait … and wait … and wait for hours.

All that time I tried my best to calm my mind and assure myself that everything was going to be okay.

I figured it wasn’t going to do me any good to think about the worst-case scenarios of what this pain in my body might be (cancer, heart attack, tumors, dragons, oh my!).

So I breathed.

And I read my book.

And I learned about the passing of spiritual teacher Debbie Ford. (I loved her book “The Dark Side of the Light Chasers.”)

And I breathed (the worst part though with this pain is that even deep breathing hurt).

And I told myself that all was well. All would be well.

When I finally got in to see a doctor, he listened to my breathing with his shiny stethoscope.

And after what seemed like forever, he finally said:

“You’ve got a rub.”

“What’s that?” I asked.

He told me my right lung sounded like two pieces of leather rubbing against each other. (It’s not supposed to sound like this.)

Basically, the lining of my lung was inflamed due to the virus that had been running through my body.

The condition is called PLEURISY.

Ugh.

Next up was a chest x-ray to make sure all was clear internally.

Thank God, the x-ray came back clean.

I was prescribed anti-inflammatory medication to help the inflammation in my lung to go down.

The healing process has been slow, making it tough to do the things I normally do as a mom to two young kids who is also a business owner.

I’ve had to take a break from yoga (really hoping I can make it through class tomorrow!).

And I’ve had plenty of time to THINK about my life and business and I what I really, really want.

I’ve had some good epiphanies. I’m making some changes. I’m being honest about what feels good and what simply doesn’t anymore.

Because I realize that much of what brought this pain in my lung is the beast I’ve been battling my entire life:

PERFECTIONISM.

Do you know what I’m talking about?

I’m going to guess that you do. Most women do. It’s an affliction that way too many of us suffer from, suffocate from, die from.

My battle with perfectionism started young, as far back as I can remember. I wanted to be the perfect little girl who handled her parents’ divorce with no issue and no tears, got Straight As in school, was the best softball player on the field. I remember wanting to be able to fulfill my mom’s request to babysit my little sister at 9 or 10 years old when I truly was far too young for this responsibility (I didn’t want to disappoint my mom).

My sister Julie and I enjoying the beach as kids.

Problem was, I wasn’t perfect. Far from it. I was lost and confused and felt unable to show my true feelings because everyone had come to expect that I had it all “under control.” This lasted throughout my schooling, beautifully highlighted by me being named “Most Reliable” by my senior class in high school.

My battle with perfectionism has lots of twists and turns, victories, traumas and death, which I’ll be diving in to in depth in my memoir, which I’m penning as we speak.

I’m nervous, yet completely feeling guided.

Because I know my mission is to tell you this:

You don’t have to hide behind your fake perfectionism anymore.

You can come out and admit that you’re flawed. And that you’re proud of your flaws. You absolutely LOVE your flaws.

You dig?

It’s by liberating yourself from the chains that bind you that you become free.

And it feels so good.

Euphoric.

Pure.

Remember – all that you need is inside of you, inside of life, inside of love.

So, what did I learn from my visit to the ER?

  • Don’t push too hard: Being focused is good. Pushing yourself to the point of illness is destructive. The beast called perfectionism is always there, trying to whip you into submission by ignoring your inner wisdom about what you need to take care of yourself. Don’t fall into this trap of treating yourself like crap. This means you might have to change plans, bow out of something, say no, or simply ignore messages that don’t resonate with you.
  • Play your own game: Remember you are only racing yourself. When you look around, it may seem like everyone else is further along than you in their business or in their life. You see the messages: “I have 3,000 clients.” “My dream lover brings me roses everyday.” “My event is sold out 8 months in advance and I didn’t even market it.” “I earn $100,000 a month and I only work 2 hours a week.” You know what I’m talking about. Don’t sweat it. These people have their own journey. You have yours. The only prize you get at the end of your life is the one you give to yourself knowing you did it your way, in your own time. Let others’ success only inspire you as to what is POSSIBLE.
  • Aim for the best results with the least amount of effort: Don’t fall into the trap of chasing after bright shiny objects that seem pretty on the outside, but don’t yield the results you’re looking for in your business. You must regularly step back and LOOK AT your strategy and ensure that you are getting the ROI you deserve at this stage of your business. Don’t compare yourself to others with COMPLETELY different models or levels of success. That’s a recipe for disaster. Know your goals and your targets and make decisions accordingly.
  • Listen to your body: You know your body BETTER than anyone else, hands down. If you feel like something is off, go get checked out. Your health is THE most important thing in the world. No amount of success or money or anything will ever be worth sacrificing your health in the process. You’re supposed to feel freakin’ AWESOME in your body. You deserve to feel radiant.

I’m coming back to my love of simplicity, to relaxation, to stretching and growing and doing it my perfectly imperfect way.

I’m happy to be alive. And I know this: I’m not done yet.

How about you: how do you deal with perfectionism? Share in the comments section below. I really want to hear from you.

 

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