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Anxious Flexibility

In my last blog post, I talked about “the hard thing about faith.” Having faith and uncertainty is such a vulnerable, human experience. To cope with that vulnerability, we tend to give ourselves a lot of “rules” for living life. Rules that make us feel less anxious, less vulnerable, less insecure, and less uncertain…

Rules like…

“I can’t be productive unless I’m feeling motivated and inspired.”

“I can’t talk to people with this anxiety.”

“I can’t move on with my day unless this task is done perfectly or just right.”

“I’m not a good mom, unless I’m taking care of everyone else and putting my own needs last.”

“There is only one right way to do this.”

“I don’t deserve this.”

“I only eat [fill in the blank].”

“I either get an ‘A’ or I failed.”

“Life isn’t fair.”

“I can’t do that.”

“If I don’t run a full mile, then I might as well not run at all.”

 

These rules are what we call, “limiting beliefs.”

What rules or limiting beliefs do you have?…

 

These rules may seem small and harmless, at least in the moment. Sometimes, they can even be temporarily helpful for setting boundaries or motivating us. Sometimes, we’re not even aware of them when we have them. However, they can accumulate to become a big problem by putting significant limitations on our hopes, goals, dreams, and lives. When we use them chronically and inflexibly, they make us rigid, keep us stuck, and suck the fulfillment out of life.

So why do we have these rules- these limiting beliefs?

They give us the illusion of faith. They give us the illusion of security, control, and even courage. But that’s all they are- an illusion. They only have as much accuracy and power as we give them. Sometimes we feel more comfortable in our limitations, and we begin acting in ways that validate this illusion, which is a vicious, self-prophesizing cycle.

So how do we deal with limiting beliefs?

We challenge them. We consider other perspectives and alternatives. We find a middle ground. We expand our flexibility in thinking- A process I like to call, “Anxious Flexibility.” Anxious flexibility is challenging yourself to think differently, to suspend your limitations, and allow yourself to hope and strive for an outcome that is more in line with your goals and values. Allowing yourself to have your cake AND eat it too!

I have received a lot of push back from people when breaching this topic. It’s funny how when you try to offer greater freedom, people will still try to argue for their limitations…

Let me clarify, I’m not suggesting that you change your entire belief system or view the world with unrealistic, rose-colored glasses. I’m suggesting that you don’t pigeon hold yourself to your own rules and that you at least put more options on the table…

For example…

“You can be productive AND feel unmotivated at the same time.”

“You can feel anxious AND talk to people at the same time.”

“Your day can move on even if you didn’t get this task done just perfectly.”

“You can be a good mom and take care of your own needs (and let others take responsibility for taking care of themselves sometimes!).”

“There is more than one way to do this.”

“You are deserving of anything that fulfills you, betters you, and helps you grow.”

“You can try foods out of your comfort zone, as long as they’re not detrimental to your health.”

“Getting a ‘B’ doesn’t mean that you failed.”

“Life isn’t always fair.”

“You won’t know what you can and can’t do unless you try.”

“You can run a half mile today and work up to running a full mile next week.”

 

Just like limiting beliefs, flexible beliefs don’t affect your life in just one instance of use. They take time and practice to become habit and take on an accumulative effect over time.

This week, become more aware of your rules and limiting beliefs and try expanding your flexibility in thinking. Rather than pushing for your limits, practice anxious flexibility.

 

Until next time,

Have courage and kind wishes!

Tannah E. Chase, Ph.D.

Licensed Psychologist

The Anxiety Counseling Clinic, P.L.L.C.

Website: www.anxietycounselingclinic.com

Phone: 830-500-5442

Email: Dr.Chase.T@gmail.com

The Hard Thing About Faith

Religion/spirituality is a topic that I don’t usually write or talk about… not because it makes me feel uncomfortable or because I’m afraid of offending or being judged by others… but because I’m afraid of marginalizing others or not being inclusive enough of those who may be of a different, minority affiliation or those who may not be religious/spiritual all. But the fact of the matter is, most people in this world are religious or spiritual in some way, shape, or form, and, for many of us, faith is a very important topic that permeates life. Therefore, it deserves attention and acknowledgement. Also, no one should feel like they have to hide their own faith just to make others feel comfortable.

Personally, I am a non-denominational Christian woman, and I sincerely and whole-heartedly try to live my life following the example of Jesus, who loved everyone unconditionally regardless of their background and faith. I am, of course, not perfect at this, but I strive for this every day. That is where I come from when I discuss the topic of faith, but my goal today is to speak about faith in a way that can still be applied to any religious/spiritual orientation.

In my life, I’ve been to churches of various denominations, and I have consistently received the message that anxiety is “bad”- that experiencing anxiety is somehow in conflict with faith. In other words, if you experience anxiety and doubt, then your faith and trust in God is weak… Because of this, I have seen many clients struggle with both anxiety and faith. This adds a whole new level of distress because then they feel guilty and ashamed for feeling something that is completely natural and involuntary!

This is the hard thing about faith.

In my earlier blog posts, I discussed the origins and purpose of anxiety- that anxiety has been hard-wired into our nervous system for as long as we have existed in order to enhance our survival in the face of danger.

Therefore, in my heart of hearts, I believe that God (who can be regarded as the ultimate scientist) designed anxiety within the human body and experience for an even deeper purpose than survival. God knows that we don’t grow in our comfort zones. God knows that we don’t reach our full potential when we’re “certain” about everything. God knows that, if we embrace it, anxiety, doubt, and struggle can be a vessel through which we discover our purpose and full potential, thereby strengthening our relationship with God, not weakening it.

Anxiety is not an ailment, but a gift and a blessing from God.

I know there are many who may feel pained to hear me say this… And I say this still, even though I know many who have severely suffered from anxiety- even though I myself have had my own struggles with anxiety. I say this because I have witnessed many come out the other side and grow from anxiety. I have witnessed and experienced the power of anxious courage.

So I challenge you to re-examine your definition of faith…

You know how I always say, “Courage is NOT the absence of anxiety. Courage is having anxiety and doing it anyway.”

Well, faith is also NOT the absence of anxiety, doubt, and uncertainty. Faith is having anxiety, having doubt, having uncertainty and believing anyway.

When I say “believing,” I mean, not only believing in thought, but believing in action– living and behaving in a way that is in line with your morals and values. This can be accomplished even in the midst of anxiety and doubt.

That’s why they call it, “taking a leap of faith,” right?… Leaping even though you’re unsure of where you might land.

Every worthwhile venture you’ve ever embarked on in life probably started with taking a leap of faith. And you probably grew and learned things about yourself and perhaps your relationship with God that you wouldn’t have learned otherwise.

This week, begin the practice of seeking what there is to learn from anxiety, doubt, and uncertainty every day. Practice faith.

 

Until next time,

Have courage and kind wishes!

Tannah E. Chase, Ph.D.

Licensed Psychologist

The Anxiety Counseling Clinic, P.L.L.C.

Website: www.anxietycounselingclinic.com

Phone: 830-500-5442

Email: Dr.Chase.T@gmail.com

Anxious Self-Intimacy

We usually think about intimacy in terms of our relationships with other people, but intimacy is also a process that occurs in our relationships with ourselves (aka. self-intimacy).

Believe it or not, many people struggle with self-intimacy. That is, many people feel anxious and vulnerable when alone because it can open up space for a number of self-defeating processes, such as negative self-evaluation, the not-enough complex, worry, feelings of loneliness, worthlessness, emptiness…

If you remember from last week’s blog, intimacy is:

“… a mutual process that happens between 2 or more people, in which each person is unconditionally and whole-heartedly accepting of the other’s vulnerability, NO MATTER each person’s dark sides, short-comings, imperfections, and history.”

So when I’m talking about self-intimacy, I’m talking about the practice of being unconditionally and whole-heartedly accepting of your own vulnerability. I’m talking about the process of accepting yourself, loving yourself, valuing yourself, and cultivating a comfortable, secure relationship with yourself.

Self-intimacy is a self-compassionate act.

This might be resonating with you. Struggle with self-intimacy is common for all of us to some extent because of our inherent, human need to belong. Self-intimacy struggles are especially common for people who tend to fall into co-dependent patterns of relationships (i.e., depending on others to feel worthy and valued).

On the other hand, many of you might be reading this thinking to yourself, “Oh this is not my problem. I’m good with myself.” And maybe that’s true! If it is, great! But I would suggest spending some time alone with yourself before you make that snap judgement. Problems with self-intimacy can have a way of sneaking up on us before we realize it. Self-intimacy is an area where we may think we’re ok until we experience real solitude.

Solitude… That’s when that lonely vulnerability seeps in. And, just like with other-intimacy, our anxiety alarm bells start going off, causing us to think there’s something wrong with us because we’re not with someone. Hence, the term “Anxious Self-Intimacy.” Again, this is natural, and anxiety is just trying to do its job to protect us. Give your anxiety grace…

So how do we deal with anxious self-intimacy?

Date yourself.

I’m serious! Embrace the anxiety and date yourself. Get out of your comfort zone, and do some soul-searching within YOU. Start a hobby- something that you’ve always wanted to do. Have a night in alone and watch a nostalgic movie with some popcorn and ice cream. Go out to eat with yourself. Go get coffee with yourself. Go to a movie with yourself. Go to the park. Go for a hike. Practice valuing yourself by taking care of yourself and getting in touch with your own needs (rather than someone else’s needs)…

Once you embrace it, self-intimacy can be quite rewarding and recharging!

However, self-intimacy can also become addictive, especially for introverts. Because of this, we can sometimes get stuck in the comfort of self-intimacy just like we can get stuck in the comfort of other-intimacy.

Aim for BALANCE between self- and other-intimacy.

This balance is one of the keys to well-being. We may struggle with one more than the other and, as we go through life, we may find ourselves vacillating from one end of the spectrum to the other. That is totally ok. Aiming for this balance is an ongoing life process that is never perfect or stagnant.

 

Self-Intimacy————————–Balance————————Other-Intimacy

 

Where do you fall on the spectrum? What might help you work toward balance? What actions can you take each day to move yourself to balance?

 

Until next time,

Have courage and kind wishes!

Tannah E. Chase, Ph.D.

Licensed Psychologist

The Anxiety Counseling Clinic, P.L.L.C.

Website: www.anxietycounselingclinic.com

Phone: 830-500-5442

Email: Dr.Chase.T@gmail.com

Anxious Intimacy

What comes to mind when you think of the term “intimacy”?

Most people desire intimacy, but I think most of us haven’t quite fleshed out the meaning of “intimacy” and what intimacy looks like in our lives. In fact, when people think about the term “intimacy,” what most commonly comes to mind is sex. However, while sex is an arena where intimacy can happen, sex is not intimacy. Intimacy goes well beyond sex.

Intimacy is a mutual process that happens between 2 or more people, in which each person is unconditionally and whole-heartedly accepting of the other’s vulnerability, NO MATTER each person’s dark sides, short-comings, imperfections, and history. Intimacy is an act of true, unconditional love and connection… and the mark of a healthy relationship. When I say “relationship,” I mean all kinds of relationships (e.g., romantic relationships, marital relationships, friendships…)

In the midst of true intimacy, we feel totally exposed and vulnerable (aka TERRIFIED!) and yet comfortable and safe at the same time. In other words, we feel like we can let our guards down and be seen, but this is simultaneously scary, especially at first. Over time, this terrifying feeling dies down as we develop a safe, secure companionship if we allow ourselves to go with it.

It is during this initial vulnerable-intimacy stage that anxiety comes in. Anxiety will try to drive a wedge into the process and make you sabotage the relationship with doubts and fears. For most people, true intimacy is uncharted territory because it is so rare. It’s rare because we spend most of the time trying to armor up against the vulnerability that leads to intimacy. We armor up because we’re afraid that others will use our vulnerability against us (an act that is truly one of the most cruel). Therefore, it’s only natural that our anxiety would start sounding off the alarms to protect us. Anxiety is just doing its job as usual. :-/

I would encourage you not to rob yourself of intimacy out of fear. Intimacy is a God-given right that we all deserve. Intimacy allows us to grow, change, and transcend and help others grow, change, and transcend in return. Yes- it’s a risk like most worthwhile things in life, and it hurts deeply when intimacy is betrayed, but it is well worth it when you find intimate connections that change your life for the better. Let your anxiety be and practice the courage to lean into the vulnerability of intimacy, a process I call “anxious intimacy.

That being said, intimacy is a sacred process that should not be indiscriminately practiced with just anyone. Sometimes, in our own craving for intimacy, we seek it in false places, and we open ourselves up to feeling cheap, cheated, betrayed, taken advantage of, and empty. We increase the chances that it won’t be received and reciprocated. I’m about to use what I call “a good should…” Intimacy should only be practiced with those who have earned the right to have your vulnerability.

Don’t rush intimacy, and use your experience to gradually gauge others’ worthiness of sharing your vulnerability. What I mean by that is… Start with giving them an inch of your vulnerability and, if the coast is clear, give them another inch and so on… If someone has demonstrated that they can’t handle an inch or two of your vulnerability, they aren’t worthy of it. Maybe that person is worthy of someone else’s vulnerability, and that’s ok.

Bottom line, you are inherently worthy and deserving of intimacy. Practice Anxious Intimacy— the courage to allow intimacy in your life with or without the anxiety alarm bells. And practice intimacy with those who have earned the right to receive that precious, God-given gift from you.

 

Until next time,

Have courage and kind wishes!

Tannah E. Chase, Ph.D.

Licensed Psychologist

The Anxiety Counseling Clinic, P.L.L.C.

Website: www.anxietycounselingclinic.com

Phone: 830-500-5442

Email: Dr.Chase.T@gmail.com

 

References:

Brown, B. (2012). Daring greatly. New York, NY: Gotham Books.

Anxiety Pain-Points in Relationships

I’ve recently noticed that anxiety in the context of relationships has been a theme for people in my life lately, inspiring me to write on this very important subject this week.

There are many different ways that we can experience anxiety in relationships. We may have anxiety about the well-being of those we care about. We may have anxiety about being liked or loved by others, belonging with others, connecting with others. We may have anxiety about the judgement, evaluation, and opinions of others. We may have anxiety about being rejected, betrayed, abandoned, hurt, or taken advantage of…

Holy smokes! If you think you don’t have anxiety about relationships, think again. Relationships are such a pervasive aspect of our lives. Unless you’re a sociopath or robot, it would be almost impossible not to have some level of anxiety about some aspect of relationships. In fact, anxiety about relationships can be pretty amorphous if we feed it and let it take over.

I could write an entire book on this subject alone, so I’m not even going to be able to scratch the surface in addressing all of the relationship-anxiety issues in this little blog post today. But my hope is that I can at least address a broad scope of relationship-anxiety problems I commonly see.

Why do we have anxiety about relationships? Well, evolutionarily, as human beings, we’re pack animals, just like dogs, apes, and lions. On a primitive level, belonging and being loved by others serves a survival purpose for us. If you think back to the cave-man and cave-woman days, being ostracized from the protection of the clan literally meant death! This is why we experience feelings like empathy, love, and compassion. But this is also why we experience anxiety in relationships that don’t feel solid and secure. I think having this understanding is crucial for coping with relationship-anxiety. Have grace with yourself by understanding that these feelings are natural, and there’s nothing wrong with YOU for having them.

Just like any other anxiety problem, it’s not the anxiety itself that’s the real problem, it’s our response to the anxiety. Relationship-anxiety goes awry when we feed our relationship fears beyond reason and attempt to control relationship outcomes that can’t be controlled. We can do our best to develop adaptive social skills and communication skills that maximize the outcomes we’re hoping for, but we can’t directly control others’ thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. We can’t make others love us, we can’t make others understand us, and we can’t make others think a certain way about us. When we get bogged down in this, we ironically stifle our authenticity and make it more difficult for those who truly love and accept us to gravitate to us. In other words, you get what you put out there. If you’re not being authentic or you’re hiding your authentic self, then you’ll never attract the people who really care about YOU. You’re attracting people who care about your act.

The same goes for our established relationships. Sometimes we get stuck in relationships that make us unhappy because the alternative seems worse… or maybe there is a history of the relationship that you’re having trouble letting go of… Relationships are not black and white. They have a lot of grey areas. This is why I always say:

“Never invest more in another person than they are willing to invest in YOU.”

I realize that for some people this can seem cruel and it might even go against your beliefs or society’s beliefs about love (i.e., that love means caring for others more than yourself). But when you invest more time, thought, emotion, and care than the other person, that is a recipe for relationship dissatisfaction and unhappiness—not only for YOU but also for the other person. When you invest more in the other person than they invest in you, you will eventually become resentful of the other person and that resentment will come out in unhealthy ways (e.g., lashing out at the other person, saying or doing deeply hurtful things to the other person).

Plus! If you don’t want the other person in this relationship to suffer what you are suffering, why would you want that for yourself?

This does not mean that you must completely brake all ties with the other person. It does not mean that you must hate them. You can still have gratitude for the relationship, set reasonable expectations, and keep a healthy distance.

This is not about you selfishly getting what you want either. This is about you standing up for your self-worth. When you tie your self-worth to others and the outcomes of your relationships, your self-worth will be wavering and fragile. Practicing self-compassion and healthy boundaries in relationships enhances your self-worth and, therefore, your ability to show up in your relationships. And when this process is mutual… WOW…  Now that is an exceptional relationship that we all inherently deserve. And it is possible! It does not have to be this rare, mystical thing that will never happen for you.

So to recap the take-home messages of today’s blog…

  • Practice grace with your relationship anxiety.
  • Practice balanced, realistic beliefs about control in relationships.
  • Practice authenticity to attract people who truly care about YOU.
  • Practice gauging your investments in others based on how much they invest in you.
  • Practice self-compassion to promote healthy boundaries in your relationships.

I say “practice” because these processes are easier said than done, and we do not learn them over night. They take much time, effort, and practice to become habit. Now, have the courage to seek out exceptional relationships!

Until next time,

Have courage and kind wishes!

Tannah E. Chase, Ph.D.

Licensed Psychologist

The Anxiety Counseling Clinic, P.L.L.C.

Website: www.anxietycounselingclinic.com

Phone: 830-500-5442

Email: Dr.Chase.T@gmail.com

The Power of Self-Compassion

Last week, I discussed the topic of perfectionism. This week, I am going to discuss perfectionism’s nemesis and antidote, self-compassion

Self-compassion is a concept that was developed by Dr. Kristin Neff, a self-compassion researcher and professor at the University of Texas at Austin. Self-compassion is the practice of being unconditionally kind to oneself despite one’s imperfections and shortcomings. It is acknowledging the fact the we are all in the same boat in that we’re all coming up short in some way. Self-compassion is embracing this notion of shared humanity and humility and seeing the true beauty in it.

For some people, when they hear this, they immediately have the concern that self-compassion means being too easy on yourself… But this couldn’t be further from the truth. Self-compassion also encompasses being real with yourself AND constructive and encouraging. Self-compassion is NOT letting yourself off the hook. For example, let’s say you binge eat 2 large pizzas by yourself. Self-compassion is NOT telling yourself, “Oh, it’s ok. I love myself anyway.” Self-compassion is telling yourself, “I love myself anyway AND I want a healthier life for me because I deserve it. I am going to eat healthier so I don’t slowly kill myself.”

Another concern people commonly have about self-compassion is that self-compassion = selfishness. This also couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, many people struggle with an imbalance of caretaking—that is, many people tend to take care of others more than they take care of themselves, leading to a great deal of burnout and health problems. However, research indicates that when we take care of ourselves, we actually care for others more effectively and authentically. I can vouch for this with my own personal experience, but don’t take my word for it. I encourage you to use your own experience as evidence. When YOU take care of yourself and your batteries are recharged on a regular basis, is it easier or harder for you to take care of others? It just makes sense. So don’t buy into the limiting belief that self-compassion is selfish.

Self-compassion has many benefits. There is a great body of research supporting self-compassion in enhancing resilience, well-being, motivation, productivity, self-esteem, and more. Yet, we struggle to engage in self-compassion. Self-compassion takes hard work and building effortful habits!

Why is this? Well, we are wired to have a negative bias in our thinking. When you are walking in the woods, how important is it that you are able to tell the difference between a snake and a stick? This is why the negative bias exists within us. It helps us determine threat quickly for survival purposes. But we unfortunately tend to apply this process to our sense of well-being and sense of self. We are wired to pay more attention to our shortcomings and flaws and, instead of viewing them with mindful constructiveness, we view them with shame and fear that others will find us out. The negative bias is natural. Working against the negative bias takes effort.

So how do we work against this negative bias and practice self-compassion?

There is no one-size-fits-all approach. Self-compassion for me may look very different than self-compassion for you. For me, self-compassion is giving myself affirmations, accepting compliments from others, recounting what I accomplished during the day versus what I did not accomplish, carving out times of solitude multiple times per week, reading personal growth books, and eating a little chocolate-something once per day. I could list so much more… It has taken me years to discover the plethora of ways I can be self-compassionate.

Other self-compassion practices include self-compassion meditations (e.g., meditating on your strengths and aspirations). Dr. Neff has great, free self-compassion meditations online that you can find with Google. There are also self-compassion yoga practices. It is also helpful to journal to yourself from the perspective of a kind friend who cares for you unconditionally. If you are a person of faith, view yourself with the unconditional love that God has for you. Practice empathy with your shortcomings in a way that builds you up and motivates you to keep working toward your values and goals.

In reading this, you might think these small acts seem… well… small… and even insignificant. But these small acts truly add up and make a huge difference in well-being and stress-management. Take it from someone who has lived life with and without self-compassion. Stress is almost impossible to manage if you are not kind and gracious with yourself on a regular basis. Furthermore, if you are a perfectionist or recovering perfectionist, self-compassion is the only antidote.

Self-compassion is a courageous act. This week (and for the rest of your life!), I encourage you to practice at least one self-compassionate act each day. Just like any new habit, this might be difficult at first, especially if you have an ingrained habit of being hard on yourself, but it gets easier and more natural over time with practice.

 

Until next time,

Have courage and kind wishes!

Tannah E. Chase, Ph.D.

Licensed Psychologist

The Anxiety Counseling Clinic, P.L.L.C.

Website: www.anxietycounselingclinic.com

Phone: 830-500-5442

Email: Dr.Chase.T@gmail.com

 

References:

Brown, B. (2012). Daring greatly. New York, NY: Gotham Books.

Brown, B. (2010). The Gifts of imperfection. Center City, Minnesota: Brene Brown.

Neff, Kristin. (2011). Self-compassion: The proven power of being kind to yourself. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers.

Overcoming Perfectionism- Courageously Embracing Your Perfect Imperfections

Perfectionism is an anxiety-and shame-based process. Perfectionism is an addictive, self-destructive process of trying to reach unrealistic, unreasonable standards for one’s self-image. It is driven by an unrelenting fear of not being enough—That is, not being smart enough, not being pretty enough, not being thin enough, not being accomplished enough, not being a good enough friend, daughter/son, parent, and so on… It’s really a fear of not being worthy enough as a person.

Perfectionism is on a continuum, and we are all on the continuum somewhere, though different people may attach their perfectionism to different things.

I myself am a life-long, recovering perfectionist… Though I have made great strides in overcoming perfectionism, it still takes ongoing effort to let go of my perfectionistic standards and tendencies.

My perfectionism started in childhood, when I was diagnosed with a slew of learning disabilities, or “differently abilities” as some people, including myself, prefer to call them. But these “different abilities” were not immediately obvious or visible. I was diagnosed with attention-deficit disorder, a learning disability in math, a learning disability in language, and a disordered central auditory processing system in the brain. As a result, I had to work 3 times as hard as my peers to be on the same level playing field in school. I do not regret having these disabilities because they taught me to work very hard, to persevere no matter what, and to be thankful for the gifts and privileges I did and do have. I also take great pride in my persistence to overcome them and accomplish the things I have accomplished in my life…

But there was a darker side to them– a double-edged sword that led to many years of unrelenting, unsatisfying competition with myself. Getting a bachelor’s degree wasn’t enough, so I had to get a master’s. Getting a master’s degree wasn’t enough, so I had to get a Ph.D… I still remember how shocked I was when my now husband first told me he loved me. I remember that I found it hard to believe at the time because I had trouble truly loving myself unconditionally. I was constantly trying to prove to myself that I was enough, but I would later come to learn that there was no accomplishment that could do that for me. It had to come from within me. I had to learn to see my own inherent worthiness, flaws and all… A worthiness that does not require evidence or proof.

I only share this because I believe that we all have our own challenges and hurtles, and I believe that perfectionism is more common than many are willing to admit. Also, an intellectual definition of perfectionism does not adequately exemplify the true pain that underlies perfectionism. I hope that there is something in this piece of my story that you can relate to, especially if you are a current your recovering perfectionist yourself.

So how do we overcome perfectionism? Courageously lean into the anxiety and shame, and practice loving yourself unconditionally. Practice embracing your perfect imperfections and seeing the beauty that lies within them… Yes. This is of course easier said than done. It is a skill that does not happen overnight and can even take years to develop with constant practice. I will discuss this at greater length next week, but here are a few tangible pointers you can take with you to practice this week:

  • Practice having the same grace with yourself that you have with others. When you see others experience courageous vulnerability, you are probably not as hard on them as you are on yourself. For example, when you see someone else trip and fall, you’re probably NOT thinking to yourself, “Wow! What a clutz. That person really needs to get their sh** together.” You are probably feeling empathy for them because you know that you have been there before. Practice this same grace and empathy with yourself.
  • Laugh at yourself. I actually practice identifying funny imperfections about myself and, instead of being mean, I laugh endearingly at myself. Some examples of the imperfections I laugh at are the fact that when I cry, I make the most distorted face (haha it makes me laugh as I’m writing this even now). I laugh at how unbelievably uncoordinated I am. I laugh at how I’m so short, I have to literally climb or jump to reach things on the top shelf when I go shopping at the grocery store! Hahaha we all have funny imperfections like this. Practice giving yourself a loving laugh about them.
  • Use your values as guides to strive for self-improvement, not perfection.
  • Be constructive and encouraging toward yourself. We naturally tend to focus more on our shortcomings than our strengths. Sometimes, we use harsh criticism as a strategy to motivate ourselves to be better, but this strategy is ironically ineffective and discouraging. Give more attention to your positive moving progress every day rather than your shortcomings. As I always say…

You don’t have to beat yourself down to build yourself up!

In next week’s blog, I will discuss at length a practice called “Self-Compassion,” which research has shown to successfully combat perfectionism.

 

Until then,

Have courage and kind wishes!

Tannah E. Chase, Ph.D.

Licensed Psychologist

The Anxiety Counseling Clinic, P.L.L.C.

Website: www.anxietycounselingclinic.com

Phone: 830-500-5442

Email: Dr.Chase.T@gmail.com

 

References:

Brown, B. (2012). Daring greatly. New York, NY: Gotham Books.

Brown, B. (2010). The Gifts of Imperfection. Center City, Minnesota: Brene Brown.