Amelia did great in college and even ingraduate school. So she couldn’t understand what was wrong with her. When she came to work with me she was “all but dissertation” her PhD work was all done except for the dissertation.She was frustrated because she knew what she needed to do, but, she just couldn’t seem to do it. Amelia had hit the Great Wall of Perfectionism. When you’re up against this wall you are likely to experience what experts call Life-Paralysis. In her book, The Gift of Imperfection, Brene’ Brown explains it this way,
“Life-paralysis refers to all the opportunities we miss because we’re too afraid to put anything out in the world that could be imperfect. It’s also all of the dreams that we don’t follow because of our deep fear of failing, making mistakes and disappointing others.”
When you are afraid, like Amelia was, avoidance is the perfect solution. The perfect solution that is in the world of the protective amygdala, the primitive part of your brain that’s responsible for the fight or flight response. Through the eyes of this limbic system brain, the dissertation looks like a saber toothed tiger that’s out to shred you to bits.
Fortunately for DOCTOR Amelia she applied the techniques, tricks, and tools that I share with you here, and she finished her PhD. One of the first things she did to accomplish this was begin to give herself specific and clear, non-inflated – or deflated – Reflective Praise.
What in the world does that mean? It means cheering yourself on in a very formulaic way. For example,I might say to myself, “I was avoiding writing this post but I wrote a good draft, and I’m pleased with my efforts.” This might sound silly but I KNOW it has merit. I’ve seen its power to melt away the Great Wall of Perfectionism every day!
Before I explain why I think using the formula works so well, I would like you to have the opportunity to simply experience its effects. This is an opportunity to jump in without having to have everything figured out. Would you be willing to give this a try?
Use this formula for tiny steps. Use it when you finish a section on a project and when you finish a whole project.
Honest feeling + Action taken + How taking the action feels.
Here are some examples:
“I was dreading going to the doctor,but I made the appointment and I’m glad that I did.”
“I didn’t feel like doing my writing today, but I finished my blog post and I’m really glad I did.”
“I didn’t think I could finish the article, but I did it and nowI feel fat and sassy.”
“I didn’t feel like grading papers, but I got them all done, and I’m glad they are finished.”
“I didn’t think I could ever finish a book, but it’s done, I feel amazing!”
“I didn’t want to go to the meeting, but I went, andI don’t really feel much of anything.”
“I was having a hard time getting into the studio, but I put in two hours on a new piece, I’m still uninspired.”
More posts on melting the Great Wall of Perfectionism coming soon.
But first…It’s your turn to try this formula out. Start by sharing the first part of the formula in the comments below. What’s your honest feeling about a task you are having a hard time taking action on?