I Can’t Help The Way I Feel

“But maybe this the way things will always be… You might always think this way. Perhaps it’s just who you are? Maybe you should just accept it?”

This is something along the lines of a recent conversation I had after publishing my last blog, which was about how perfectionism isn’t actually the need to have everything perfect at all. It’s the constant need to get things right. Get things right, because ridiculous, humiliating and terrible things may happen if you screw up.

Perfectionism is FEAR. Fear of getting things wrong. Yes, I know, these thoughts are in my head and perhaps in yours if you’ve practised as often as I have.   The thing about this, is that we are all responsible for our own thoughts. No shit! Nobody can make you think in a particular way, and, at any one moment, we have it within our control to view a situation differently.

Simplistic? Perhaps.   But what if you tried it out? What if you decided to give my whacky idea a shot? Now common sense says that as a starting point, it’s perhaps not the best plan to try and change your thoughts around something which causes you major distress. Perhaps aim a little lower down the emotional scale, see where it gets you.

Anyway, I digress, back to the comment at the top of the page. A lot of the work I do is around values and beliefs. The heart of who we are and the reasons why we often think or behave in a particular way. They form our ‘map’ of how we view the world. We can sometimes get stuck in a way of unhelpful thinking, which in turn, prevents us from doing particular things or limits our way of thinking. As a coach I’d refer to that as a ‘Limiting Belief.’   When you hold beliefs which limit you, you may say things like, ‘It’s difficult to change’ or ‘I can’t help the way I feel…”We’ve all been there, we’ve all told ourselves a story about how tough it’s going to be to overcome some mental habit or traumatic memory. We then prove ourselves right, by repeating and re-telling ourselves the story, until we believe it is ‘absolutely’ true. Thus continuing to be affected by the very thing that is hurting us. YET, at the same time, we can get over other situations, which may appear equally traumatic or difficult in an instant.

Why is that?

Why is one thought weighted so much more heavily than another? Who is controlling the weight of those thoughts? Who is choosing to prioritise one thought over another? So surely if you can choose to value one set of thoughts, you can learn to value another more helpful set? YES?   So, I’m challenged by perfectionism. I’m aware, I’m taking steps to get out of my own way and ask myself if this is really my story. Yes, I’m simplifying, but you get what I mean.   The real interesting point is the opening couple of lines. The conversation I had. The belief, that change is hard. The belief that ‘it’ may never happen and perhaps ‘you should just accept that’s the way things are.’ Those are real limiting beliefs. Those are the kind of thoughts which prevent us from moving forwards. Now I know the conversation was aimed my situation, but were these really my beliefs, or the person speaking the words?   You are only ever one thought away from a totally different life.

You might need to practice that thought a bit, your brain may want to try it on a few times before it accepts a new way of thinking as a habit, but hey, if I can practice perfectionism, I’m sure I can practice some other cool and more helpful thoughts too.

What about you?

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