Are you still explaining why you did something ten years ago? Isn’t that like the ruins in this photo? Ancient history?
You found that you needed to reschedule a lunch date with a friend. You called to tell them and end up telling every detail as to why you need to do this. You do this consistently when people ask you a question about your life.
It’s exhausting! Yet you feel the need to do explain yourself.
Have you ever tried NOT telling all the minutia? I’ll bet the first time you tried, your friend/s still queried you. You fought back not to “explain.” You think they’re wondering if you are holding something back. You’re uncomfortable with this!
“you forgot your sibling’s birthday, you said something about someone and it got back to them. OUCH!
What to do?
Try “The Observe & Correct” process. It’s a self-mastery technique that, when fully understood helps you to validate yourself in a safe, sane and kind way when you display “less than perfect” behavior. It also helps you to quickly correct the behavior instead of wasting time and energy making up reasons, excuses and/or explanations as to why you need to be “perfect.”
We all make mistakes in life. That is what is part of being human, but when we expect ourselves to be perfect and miss the mark, we end up rationalizing, making excuses or reasons why we behaved the way we did.
Making up reasons for “less than perfect” behavior comes from our experiences with people who, in our minds, thought less of us because we made a “mistake.” We intellectualized and internalized this fear-based thinking and our self-esteem suffered for it.
Perfectionism is an emotional block that we employ to pretend that everything about us is “okay.” We go into perfectionism because we cannot face the embarrassment that comes after having done or said something that is unacceptable perhaps by our familial, societal, cultural or scholastic experiences.
Instead of avoiding the feelings of inadequacy, we need to learn what the healing feeling of embarrassment is meant to do for us. It is an energy that allows you to accept yourself as you are. By blocking, repressing or suppressing the feeling of embarrassment, you will feel like you always need to be “perfect” which is an unachievable objective.
What do I need to do to stop my cycle of “Observe & Explain?”
First, internalize and emotionalize, that is, know what is coming up for you, understand that you are looking at something from your own “inner child” perception or from the Gremlin that sits on your shoulder (your ego-mind) that has been protecting your psyche for so long. Then feel your judgement, perfection, etc. and identify where you feel it (stomachache, headache, heart pulsing, even a sense of calm because that feels “normal,” or whatever you feel) and know that it is now safe for you to make a mistake. As a self-empowered adult you are responsible only for your actions. What other people think of me is none of my business.
When I coach clients I ask them to think of a mistake (which is really a lesson) they made that is not terribly embarrassing for them. I ask them to get “into that space” when it happened and try to feel everything that was a part of that experience. It’s always best to begin with something that isn’t a huge embarrassment because it’s more likely that we’ll stay with that one and work on it.
When my client has surfaced the feelings that they remember concerning that moment I ask them to describe it with as much detail as possible. For example, what were you feeling? Where in your body did you feel it? Where there any sounds, sights, odors, fragrances that you associate with that moment? This is done to really “get into the moment.” The brain “records” all of these sensory experiences. Since they are no longer serving you, you have to consciously detach and “dis-create” them, first intellectually, then internally (body), and then emotionalize them.
We then have a conversation about being the “observer” of our own behavior, not ourselves as the “Doer of the Act.” I’ll ask them to envision a circle that they are standing in. That circle is the embarrassing action they did. The client is in the circle feeling everything he/she felt that day. They talk about the discomfort or outright pain.
Then I ask them to step out of that circle and into another one called “The Observer.” This is where they are being as non-judgmental as possible about themselves realizing that the “mistake” was actually a lesson for them to understand that they are human and that we as humans make mistakes. It’s part and parcel of who we are.
If we can learn from the previous lesson (what we think of as a mistake), we are more apt to be able to observe ourselves the next time we begin expecting “perfect behavior” from ourselves. We will know the feeling we get when we are about to make that mistake/lesson because we’ve worked on training our brain to respond differently.
With time and more experiences, we see that there is no need to go into “perfectionism” since we’ll never achieve it. Thus, we have a life of Observe & Correct instead of “Observe & Explain.”
Do you have unsettled thoughts rolling around renting space in your head? Invest in yourself! Try a few confidential coaching sessions. It does wonders!