I am a perfectionist and I will tell you there was one specific instance in my life that brought that awareness to me. I was in a 200 HR RYT with the Teacher Ana Forrest in 2011 in Santa Monica California. At this time, I was fresh out of the military and so excited to be engaging with a dream to pursue yoga and alternative health. I remember being in the first week of training and we were already being asked to teach one another classes. I was teaching my class, totally nervous and outside of myself when Ana Forrest (check her out if you don't know her) came over to me and gave me a yoga strap. She had me stand in Horse Stance and whip the strap as I told the students what I wanted them to do. And then she said, "stop trying to be perfect, you are holding yourself back!" I finished the class with pure adrenaline and what felt like embarrassment, but with a sense of strength and courage because something did get activated within me. I remember reflecting later on this concept of perfectionism.
Was I really trying to be perfect, and what does that even mean?
Having a little more experience with teaching and quite a bit more self-knowledge under my belt. I see where that perfectionism held me back. In worrying about being perfect I spent a lot of time limiting myself. And what was I really trying to achieve anyways? Validation is what I think the root of my perfectionism was. So, I would do only what I knew I could do, perfectly, and nothing more. Now, what an intriguing concept. I may have stopped myself from doing more because more may have meant that I wouldn't be the best.
I still battle with that, but less and less. I have a YouTube channel where I share and post yoga tutorials, and I mess up all the time. I look goofy, trip over my words and the edits are sometimes not that great. I give myself lofty goals just to push myself, and I don’t meet them.
But what the heck, what do I have to lose? I improve over repetition and although I look nothing like the people that inspire me, at least I'm trying to do something more. If I fall short, then so be it.
This plays into my understanding of stress a bit too. I am reading a book called ‘The Upside of Stress’ by Dr. Kelly McGonigal (https://www.amazon.com/Upside-Stress-Why-Good-You/dp/1101982934) and it’s all about how to turn stress into fuel, furthermore there is a lot of research on stress chemicals that prove that stress is not only a good thing, but produces chemicals that allow us to show up in this life in a variety of healthy ways. Although I feel my stress response sure does push me in many ways, I do see where I am still inhibited and need a good perspective shift.
I work in a restaurant right now as well, and it gets really stressful. After our reopening with COVID, it's been a smaller team and more work. We just started to get busy again, the restaurant is in a hotel on the Las Vegas strip, and somedays I have no idea how I will do all that I need to do. But recently I have been playing with that stress response, especially after gathering all this new information within my courses. When I start to literally freak out, like how will I greet that table, take that order, meet that request, set that table, speak to my manager and still look cool and collective? I take a breath and I think, it's fine. I have a lot of excess energy right now, and how can I use it? The hardest part is shifting a guest’s energy if they seem to be unhappy. Now, being an empath, I feel all sorts of things, and I worry about people’s experiences because they are paying lots of money. But all I can do is be as authentic as possible and do a great job. And sometimes that's not perfect at all, but it's okay.
So, I take that stress at the moment, and I turn it into fuel (and sometimes I pray), and what I noticed is that the energy does shift. And even writing it here, it sounds kind of magical, but all of a sudden, someone shows up in exactly the right place and offers a helping hand, or a guest all of sudden isn't upset anymore. Better yet, a woman walks by and compliments me on my hair. And it is all because I took that moment to shift that stress response. With that said, I have witnessed that response do the exact opposite over and over again in my life, but I wasn't practicing in those times, I was just letting it all happen to me. So, I believe those instances were sort of like a default. And now, I work with the stress instead of against it. The beauty is that I am less and less upset if it doesn't go perfectly because I can say I didn't buy into the fear and anxiety. However, more often than not, it goes pretty damn well after that shift.
That is where the magic starts to happen. The practice turns into a real projection, and a new path is formed.
There is another concept that is being taught to me that I would like to touch on here, priming the brain. I will continue with the above example because it's already open and I have been working on something really cool here as well. I have worked in the restaurant industry for more than half of my life now. My family did it, and I learned it from restaurants that my family worked in and managed, and I sort of fell into a routine with it. With that said, I don't like it and it’s never been my thing. It's hard work, it's stressful and I have felt called to do light work for far too long. So that was my attitude for a while, and it made it hard. I honestly felt put out by it all. But it was the only way to keep the lifestyle I had. And trust me, I have tried to relieve myself of it over and over again, but it hasn’t been my time yet. One very frustrating thing that happens to me is that I get high anxiety when I know that I have to work that night, in fact it cripples my whole day sometimes. This was happening to me for a while. I was stuck in this cycle of pushing myself to make the best of something I didn't love and then getting fed up, backing out and trying something else, and then the cycle would repeat again.
It wasn't until recently that I started to really notice how hard it was for me to know that I had to work later. Maybe it's just all that stress at work and fear of feeling uncomfortable again, that would effect any day that I had to work. This was a problem because I often times do not work until 5pm, and I needed to be free of that worry during the day, to work on projects and further myself and business. The pandemic gave me a big break to come back to myself and approach work from a different angle.
So now I'm priming my brain to feel good feelings at work. And the above story is part of that priming. I am establishing a healthier relationship with the stress, making it easier for me to feel good feelings at work, thus making it less scary to have to go to work. I didn't know I was doing this, but now that I am clear on priming the brain, I am even more into this. I want to keep this job until I am fully confident and ready to take on my business full time. I have some financial areas that benefit from my job, and I have a plan. That all helps too. It reminds me that I won't be stuck in that job forever, and it allows me to be grateful that I have a job, focusing more on that than anything else. I am finally getting to a place of contentment, and even feeling like I am thriving instead of just surviving. And it really has a lot to do with shifting my mindset. Just like Alia Crum talks about in the TED talk about Changing our Mindsets. Mindset may not be everything, but it certainly has a strong enough influence to change an entire life situation, which then has the ability to effect more in our life.
I am telling you all of this, firstly because I did a write up for a class about stress, but secondly because I think a lot of us deal with similar feelings, but in different life situations. Choosing to shift my mindset in order to heal parts of my life that I wasn’t in alignment with is something I have been working with for a while now. And trust me, I am a rebel, so even changing my own mind is tough sometimes. I am here to tell you that, “You Got This!” But, if you need a little help, I am here too. Sometimes it’s just as simple as having help and an outside perspective. That’s one of my favorite things to do, be a witness and hold space for others as they deal with the shifting of a mindset.
So, if you are looking for some guidance, or just someone to be there to empower you during this process, I got you.
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