Letting go of the dream of perfection doesn’t mean giving up hope of having everything you desire.
It is actually the doorway to finally stepping free of the old all-or-nothing thinking that has kept you stuck in unsatisfying jobs and relationships and has kept you chained to food and body image focus as the answer to your insecurities and dissatisfaction with life.
The story that there is a “perfect” and that you have to be it or else is what keeps you from living happily, passionately, and purposefully in this moment.
What if, just for moment, you could step free of the story that you need to be anything other than what and who you are right now in order to be loved, to be happy, to be at peace?
I’m not saying that there is nothing in you that could be improved or that you should settle for a job, spouse, friend, or body that you aren’t truly fulfilled by.
But what if you could be genuinely happy regardless of the state of those things right now, and what if that happiness actually gave you the strength and courage to change those pieces that aren’t how you’d like them to be?
It’s draining to imagine that you have to be perfect before you can be deserving of the lover, career, friendships and self-care that you desire. It’s such a defeating and overwhelming headspace that most of us get so anxious and depressed just thinking about how far we have to go before we are allowed to be happy that we don’t even start to try and create the life of our dreams. We eat instead! Or we restrict, or purge. We withdraw, we isolate, we procrastinate. In other words, we get so overwhelmed with the story that we have to be perfect and with our perception of how far we have to go before we’ll be acceptable and happy that we just give up and bury our heads in the sand.
“Tomorrow.” Our favorite word. “I’ll start tomorrow.” “Today’s already shot, I’ve already made a mistake, may as well just keep on going with the binge, tomorrow will be better.” “I’m too stressed right now to do anything any different, I’ll try to eat some more/something new/something healthier, tomorrow.” Really?
What’s going to change between today and tomorrow that hasn’t changed in the days preceding? The reality is, willpower isn’t enough because it’s not about willpower and inner strength. That’s the Drill Sgt.’s approach and he’ll only leave you feeling isolated and battered, bad and wrong.
So, if you haven’t gained any new tools and abilities in the past 24 hours to suggest to yourself that tomorrow will be different and that you’ll navigate the day without the use of food to cope is to be in a supreme state of denial about what leads you to use food to cope. It isn’t stupidity or a lack of willpower, it’s stress. And unless you’ve learned a new way to address your stress and to ultimately alleviate it, you’ll need your coping strategy again tomorrow, regardless of your intention and your commitment to yourself.
So, don’t set yourself up to make yet another “mistake.” You undermine your trust and safety in yourself when you make commitments you can’t keep (to yourself!) which only adds to your stress and your need to use food to cope. So, rather than saying “tomorrow” I won’t binge or restrict or purge or spend so much time focusing on my body, why not say:
“Tomorrow I accept that I might need to use food to cope because I haven’t yet learned the tools I need to learn to be able to navigate life without it. But I will also take one step toward gaining those tools so that I can start to live a life that is free from using food to cope.”
That’s a commitment you can keep and it will get you much, much farther than just repeating the same old defeating promise to yourself.
If there is someone in your life who you perceive as “perfect”, chances are you are focusing on just one aspect of their lives around which they have spent a lot of time and effort to achieve a certain goal or image, or, perhaps more likely, what you’re seeing as a “perfect” person is actually a happy one who realizes their flaws and limitations and demonstrates compassion and empathy and positive self-regard and self-care, and as a result, feels comfortable in their own skin. If that’s your definition of perfection, you can have it, you can be it, you just need some support and guidance and a new tool or two.
The only thing really standing between you and freedom from using food to cope are the stories you’re telling yourself about your worth and your abilities and what you deserve that trigger you to feel hopeless and stuck and anxious and lead you to procrastinate, isolate, and use food to cope. The solution is simple.
I’m here to show you the way.