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Preventing Perfectionism in Kids: Listen to Your Body

Colleen Adrian, perfectionism,

For recovering perfectionists, a key strategy to both heal ourselves and prevent perfectionism in kids is learning to listen more astutely to our bodies and honour our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual needs.

As a recovering perfectionist myself, I’ve spent most of my life pushing, pushing, pushing—and ignoring the signals of my body, regardless of how tired I was. In my past profession, I was a nurse and did 12 hour day and night shifts. My ability to ignore my body (read: dissociate, because of my past trauma) served me well in that I could do night shifts—no problem!

As I’ve learned to stay more connected to my body, I’ve become less and less able to ignore my body’s signals, and I’m grateful for that. And I also now deal with the anxiety that comes up when it’s time to *let go* instead of pushing.

Last year in late November I realized I was at a familiar place once again. I’d been pushing a bit too hard for too long, and I was feeling depleted. What’s more, there were some needs in my family, home, and personal health that had been on the back bench for too long because I’d been on the treadmill, pushing. My old perfectionist habit, again. 🙇‍♀️

So I let go of my writing and stepped back from some of my work to attend to those things,  as well as taking some down time to feed my creative spirit in other ways—through working on some projects that have long been waiting to be birthed. 🌺

To heal ourselves and prevent perfectionism in our kids, we must *listen* to our bodies and take action based on what we’re hearing. 🧘‍♀️

Whereas once I might have berated myself for having to take a break, I now recognize the wisdom—and more importantly, I have compassion for the part of me that feels anxious when I have to let go of something I’d planned to do, or feel like I ‘should’ do. For perfectionists, there’s almost always some anxiety lurking underneath our intense *drive* to keep accomplishing.

Is there anything in your life recently that’s felt like there’s just too much? And is there anything tiny (or large) that you’ve been able to let go of to create more spaciousness for yourself and honour the deepest needs of your body and soul? And if you’re struggling to let go—can you notice the struggle without judgment, and have some compassion for that little part of yourself that’s anxious or afraid?