Perfectionism Counselling London
Once you accept the fact that you're not perfect, then you develop some confidence.Rosalynn Carte
Benefits & Costs Of Perfectionism The concept of perfection has its roots in mathematics and spirituality. Perfectionism can be a good thing, fuelling inspiration, be a driving force and motivation, leading to having high standards, focusing, doing things well, high achievement, great results, spurring excellence. Using perfectionism in good ways, doing things well, being thorough & striving to do things right & properly, being the best without being over-meticulous, pushing & stretching ourselves, can be rewarding. Being a perfectionist can seem like a gift at times & a curse in other times and we can become trapped in this ideal (e.g. "I have to be the best and can't fail"), struggling to relax our high standards. Dedicating our resources is often essential if we are to achieve something important, yet if we are so fixed, or attached to a perfect outcome, our dedication can be at the expense of other aspects of our life, as if our very identity - our self-image is to be perfect. Seeking perfection, endlessly tweaking things or paying attention to detail at certain times can be rewarding - something to be proud of, yet some of us may struggle to know, and accept, when things don't have to be perfect or so detailed. "Do it perfectly or not at all" or "If you cannot do it right, then don't bother" - are often admirable ways of responding, yet at times this can work against us. If we hold on too tightly to our perfectionism, it may stop us starting & completing things leading to reduced productivity. It can be as if we are addicted to perfectionism, as if somehow to survive (which can be explored in the therapy). Fuelled by self-doubt, always having to do things perfectly - doing and saying the right things, may become our preoccupation. We may miss out on living in a more rounded & forgiving way. When things aren't fine or perfect, we can become very anxious, stressed, especially when we can't control outcomes (and often it is our own anxiety that is driving our need for things to be perfect in the first place). Trying to make things perfect may also be an attempt to hide our vulnerability, tenderness, avoid being our self to people closest to us. By now we may recognise we have a perfectionism problem and overcome perfectionism dominating our life. Counselling for perfectionism can be offered.
Relax, nothing is under control.Nick Totton
Searching For Perfection Planning is important in life, yet searching for a perfect plan (see also Background/Foreground Thoughts, Our Self-Talk, What We Tell Ourselves, Internal Dialogue - Choosing What We Think), we may have become more of a human doing than human being. Doing things to excess, we may constantly believe we have to prove something, that our own identity is shaped by these high expectations (not only of us, but of others). And some of these expectations may go back years. The part of us that is a perfectionist drives a lot of things and the counselling for perfectionism may therefore explore what it is that drives us. Some of our own insecurities, search for validation, approval, affirmation, reassurance, confirmation, permission, recognition, appreciation, praise, attention, adoration, admiration, adulation, acceptance (or sense of impending doom) may be at play here. With anything less than perfection we believe this lets us or others down. In our search for perfection we may want to continuously show others what we've achieved or how good we are, as if we have to prove something, that we matter, feel useful and want to make things different, some of which may point to our relationship style. We may also hope others become envious & jealous of us. We may make half-hearted promises to give ourselves some slack, time off. (There is a French proverb "l'ennemi du bien est le bien" - meaning "Perfect is the enemy of the good", suggesting how we can be caught up in making things perfect - the result being not getting much done.) Relaxing into things, being kind to ourself, may be a challenge for us. Our search for perfection may point towards a longing or yearning for something, which we can't quite put our finger on. Wanting to overcome perfectionism, let go of a few things, we may now be seeking perfectionism help. (The beauty of imperfection is appreciated in the Japanese art of Wabi Sabi and in nature, where we can appreciate the beauty, perfection of the lotus flower above the water, yet the "imperfect" roots lay in the mud under the water - vital for sustaining the flower.)
Meaningful things are rarely perfect.
Perfectionism - Our Personal Standards Setting high standards (including our purpose, beliefs, values & ideas) may be important for us, yet when these standards always have to be the very best, it can be hard & tiring to let ourselves off the perfectionist's hooks we put ourselves on - this super-achiever part of us (or inflated sense of self), that everything doesn't always have to be perfect. For some we may strive to do things above the standard criteria - putting in considerably more effort into our tasks than is rationally justified to meet requirements. And if we don't always meet super-high, maybe unrealistic standards, we may feel inadequate, disappointed. Our life may be about performance, where everything must be a potential "A". And some of us may want to impress others, make others satisfied. We may end up struggling with our time & resources, believing that if we can't do things perfectly, we can't do them at all. (Sheryl Sandberg says "Done is better than perfect".) Our perfectionism, love of the ideal may also have a downside that we may procrastinate or try to please. (Despite being an adult, some of our pleasing or perfectionism may also be linked to living as if we are still trying to get approval, appreciation, validation, love form a parent.) Some of us may be stuck in our head, struggling to allow our feelings to flow. If we have low esteem, we may compensate by setting very high standards. Being good enough may not be not enough as we continuously try to prove ourself. Others may lack a true sense of confidence, self-worth (sometimes to fill a spiritual void). Practising the Japanese art of Wabi-Sabi, appreciating beauty and imperfections (e.g. of the world, our parents, our self) may support us. Compromising other areas of our life, we may have forsaken what is intrinsically satisfying in our heart & soul, what uplifts us, is pleasurable, enjoyable or fun, giving us peace of mind.
And now that you don't have to be perfect, you can be good.John Steinbeck
Our Inner Perfectionist World Sometimes, caught in our need for things to be perfect, it can seem as if something inside us is controlling our life and it's not quite our self (maybe even our shame). Associated with the depths of our unconscious, what we are searching for - perfection may be linked to our past or a deep connection with others in the wider world. In an imperfect world we may struggle with things being messy, not always right, not having any regrets, the way we and others "should", "ought", "must", "always" be and have a sense of impending doom. We may become easily self-critical, have negative reactions to others' criticisms, or critical of others. The counselling for perfectionism can explore how we can be open to criticism without being defensive and ways we can hone down our self-criticism, so we can be kind, compassionate to ourself. Thinking in absolutes, things may have to be totally perfect, otherwise they won't do, we expect the best, nothing less and we can easily get disappointed or devastated, become isolated or get depressed. We may have become rigid, shut things down, block things out and lonely inside. "I don't need anyone else" may be our mantra. We may have irrational beliefs or a fantasy that things, we or others should be perfect, yet the world lets us down, where nothing & no one is good enough. Our need for things or us to be perfect, or for a perfect world - to have it all, get everything done, may also reflect our impatience, a deeper search or longing. This yearning may point to a search for something so ideal, perfect, yet not humanly possible. This can be explored in psychotherapy alongside how it affects relating with others. We may be intolerant of weaknesses in others, and indeed ourselves. We may therefore believe that we should have no faults, yet we are good at finding faults in others, as if we are entitled to do so. This can after a while become alienating. Some of these experiences now may date back to earlier wounds. This may include education's grading system, in which who we are is ignored and if we don't get straight A's, we don't measure up, which can be shaming if carry this into our adult life. Our perfectionism may have certain addictive qualities. We can prioritise things, always having to be perfect above other human values. We may want to stop, say "No" to this pull for everything around us to be perfect, yet struggle to do so. Endlessly striving, our tireless search for perfection, or the perfect person (forever comparing our partner unfavourably with others), can render us being inwardly unhappy, often anxious or pressurised, struggling to take the pressure off ourself. (And we can pressurise ourself further by forever unhealthily comparing ourself with others.) We may keep obsessively checking things, and get exhausted in the process. Always keeping busy may be important to us. Our perfectionism may also be closely linked to not feeling good enough, where our self-esteem and our perfectionism may be fuelled by our self-criticism & "harsh inner tyrant", "internal persecutor" driving us. We may want to impress others or have become dependent on seeking the approval, validation, recognition or affirmation from others. As parents we may try to be perfect to our children, yet in our humanness inevitably fall short of this. Contentment for us and others around us may be in short supply. Without our almost addiction to perfection, some of us inside may feel unsafe, afraid of stopping this, because we may feel empty inside or afraid of finding out more about ourself. Instead of trying to do everything perfectly, we may want to consider doing our best and may want to utilise the perfectionism counselling or therapy for perfectionism to be less in the grip of perfection including the role of disidentification.
Forget your perfect offeringLeonard Cohen
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.
Perfectionism In Relationships We may overlook we and our partner are both flawed and lovable, that relationships are often imperfect. Some of us (maybe with an avoidant style of attachment) may try to be perfect for our partner (see also Codependency (Co-Dependency) - Caretaking), We may seek a perfect relationship, but never quite find it, as if we are searching for an ideal love, and longed-for connection with someone, impossible for a human being to offer (see also Expecting, Assuming, Needing Our Partner Or The Relationship To Meet All Our Needs). Struggling to manage our disappointment, we may end up blaming, criticising them for letting us down. Therapy for perfectionism in our relationship can also be offered, where our feelings & thoughts about unconditional love, commitment may be explored.
At its root, perfectionism isn't really about a deep love of being meticulous. It's about fear. Fear of making a mistake.Michael Law
Fear of disappointing others. Fear of failure. Fear of success.
Overcoming Perfectionism Or Dealing With Perfectionism Perfectionism therapy or counselling can help us be less burdened by our needs & idea of perfection and counter-productive beliefs (e.g. we are or must be an impostor if imperfect), by being in touch with our own nature & realistic limitations (maybe our own fear or inadequacies), our shadow and learn not to be such a perfectionist or get carried away with our "all or nothing" thinking, so our perfectionism problem no longer defines us. We may want to let go of the pressure to be perfect, give ourself the space to stumble, make mistakes, simply be human. So instead of "practice makes perfect" we adopt "practice makes progress" - letting ourself off the perfection hook. We all are imperfect creatures, both whole and broken in some way - have strengths and shortcomings. Despite in our heart of hearts we know perfection doesn't exist, changing our attitude and dealing with perfectionism, or fully overcoming perfectionism, may be ambitious for some. Managing perfectionism differently, so we don't have to worry so much, pressurise ourself to be the perfect person, partner, parent, friend, or be work-obsessed, so perfect in our work, have the perfect body, may support us, as may reducing competitive situations, checking whether our expectations are realistic, being accepting of our mistakes, allowing and showing our weaknesses, vulnerabilities, alongside giving ourselves permission to relax, listen to our intuition, reflect, learn what we need to learn, know our purpose in life. Discerning between being efficient - doing things right (maybe better and faster) and effectiveness - doing the right thing, what we truly value, may help us in overcoming perfectionism. The therapy for perfectionism may also explore how we think, have balance in our life, so we focus less on the details and more on the big picture, enjoy the journey as well as the outcome, reflecting on what really matters to us, our self-acceptance of our imperfections, including our "crazy, mad moments", "mental wobbles", our quirks, flaws (and accepting imperfections of others), alongside our attitude to progress rather than ingrained perfection, our need of always having to be in control, planning, rehearsing. Alongside our perfectionism, we may be overly rigid in our thinking, behaviour, struggle to take risks, relate well or emotionally express ourselves, maybe feel a little socially isolated or suffer from bouts of depression or procrastinate. Counter intuitively for some, as we own our own imperfections, accept our crazy, mad moments, mental wobbles, this can be healing. The counselling for perfectionism may also look at its roots e.g. did we decide to be the perfect child and shut down our feelings?
Being Over-Demanding Of Ourselves
A first-rate soup is more creative than a second-rate painting.Abraham Maslow
Being Overdemanding - Our Own Taskmaster Some of us can put all our energies into our work (see Work Stress Counselling, Burnout Counselling London). Others may be over-demanding, pushing or punishing ourself harder than we need to, never satisfied with our achievements, because we should always do better or more (see also The "Should", "Shouldn't", "Ought", "Must", "Never", "Always" Beliefs). Equating success or results with struggle may affect our wellbeing. Our inner perfectionist, super-achiever, inner critic may be running our lives. We may wear our hard-working taskmaster on our shoulder like a badge of honour. Martyr-like we may have been taught that through justifying our existence suffering is a virtue and that joy is wrong or selfish. Our heart may have become closed if we let our punitive taskmaster rule. Those of us who are over-demanding & pushing of ourselves also tend to be of others (see also The persecutor or perpetrator in us, the dictator, tyrant). Woe betide other people's shortcomings - or even our own (see also Being Overdemanding Of Our Partner). Meticulously striving, we can be our own slave driver, a harsh taskmaster, especially if we are a high performer or high achiever. For some of us this can be linked to having low esteem, forever compelled to keeping busy, seeking validation, approval. We may struggle to appreciate things before striving towards the next task. Trying very hard, we can wonder "for what?", which for some can lead to existential questions. And when we stop trying, we may become closer to who we are. Our well-intentioned goals, can end up being self-imposed, punishing, unachievable demands to be reached at all costs. Striving & driven, we can overlook the driver - our very self & others we care about. We may also overlook connecting to the purpose of what drives us & our intended destination. Pressurising ourself, trying to impress, we can be so goal-oriented, that our emotions, the full richness of our humanity and quality of our relationships with others can be ignored. (We may need to know our limitations, improving them if that is our desire with a lighter touch.) Perfectionism counselling and therapy can help us explore those forces inside of us, that we must over-achieve or achieve at all costs and look at other possible alternatives, including giving ourselves a break, having more time, allowing for what is (see also Releasing Ourselves & Letting Go). Some of us may conflate making the maximum effort with focused effort. Allowing for the possibility that everything is not about "no pain, no gain", practising acceptance of our life in each moment we may want to explore the law of least effort. When our mind and body are in tune, when we also practise creating what we desire with effortless ease, where we can do less and accomplish more, when in harmony with our true self, nature, the universe, consciousness in and beyond us. Giving ourself a break, lowering our high standards, loosening up a bit with light-heartedness, playfulness, carefreeness, laughter, fun and our sense of humour, showing appreciation and gratitude, having self-love may also be what we need a bit more of. As Alan Watts says "Stop measuring days by degree of productivity and start experiencing them by degree of presence". (See also Achievement, Achieving Things)
A Zen student asked how long it would take to gain enlightenment if they joined the temple.Unknown
"Ten years" said the Zen master.
"Well, how about if I work really heard and double my effort?"
You've got to get to the stage in life, where going for it is more important than winning or losing.Arthur Ashe
Being Competitive Competitiveness has many pluses. Competing with others & ourself, whether through daily routines, work, exercise, can help enhance our motivation, challenge us to improve our previous efforts, build upon our capabilities, harness our personal strengths, support our ambition, release our potential. Our competitiveness can be a driving force, fostering innovation & creativity. Being competitive can push us, keep us on our toes, making us strive further and achieve things. It can support our momentum. Our competitiveness can help us rise to the challenge & grow (whether or not we get what we want or "win") and learn. Being competitive can be fun & uplifting, especially when we win. Competitiveness can build comradeship. However, as part of our protective patterns, over-defensiveness, fear or our need to believe we are superior to others (yet maybe feeling inferior inside). Some of us may have developed a competition anxiety. Even when part of a team we may have a need to impress, be the best, be right (where lack of achievement or fear of not being good enough may also drive our competitiveness), so if we don't get what we want or unfavourably compare who we are with others, we can criticise ourself or others. Our ego may get in the way of being a good team player. Aspiring to be the best for the team has a different energy - whether it's meeting deadlines, maintaining a positive attitude, or not working against each other as part of the team. Some of us may have become scathed by the level of comparison & competition we experienced when younger, which drives us now. Envy may also creep in and be our driver to compete more & more. We may be unnecessarily competitive, that we find it hard to collaborate, co-operate with others (the whole being greater than the sum of the parts), which causes tensions & affects our relationships (see also Competitiveness In The Relationship Or Marriage). We may know no other way than being competitive so winning, scoring points over others is our "be all" & "end all". We may have a competitive style of relating, especially in conflict. Yet there may be a cost to our competitiveness: our competitive attitude may put distance between us & others, our humanness may take second stage to winning. And we may be using competitiveness, negative ways, as a stick to beat ourself up - be self-critical. Disappointment may set in if we don't win, get what we want, and we may also have become a poor loser. Having power over others at all costs may have become part of our make-up. If we don't win, we may become depressed, angry or controlling, where collaboration can be rewarding at times, otherwise we may end up becoming lonely inside and we can become more limited with our creativity (see also In Tune With Us, Community & The Wider World, Our Interdependence, Interconnectedness, Oneness, Unity, Harmony). When competitive, our empathy may be in short supply and appreciation, seeing the goodness in us and other, complementing others around us may also be missing, where we can still flourish through a softer way of living. (See also Ownership, Guardianship, Trusteeship, Stewardship)
A flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it. It just blooms.Zen Shin
Soft Living, Living A Soft Life Powerfully The world can be frenzied at times, noisy, complicated, littered with limitless products, options, opinions, full of distractions. A hard life can be experienced as overwhelming sacrifice and unpleasantness, forever competitive, with little downtime, not so hard on ourself at times. Letting go, softening any of our own hard edges may be important, as may being more flexible (maybe like a willow tree as opposed to oak tree). Focusing on what really matters to us, may include feeling more at ease, living a soft life, soft living - a theme originated in Nigeria and in many traditions (e.g. Qi Gong's water method). This may include less pushing, forcing, going full steam ahead, and more about getting off the hamster wheel, living a pared-down life of balance, moderation, comfort, maturity, with peace of mind, in our own power (taking back our own power if we need to). Inside we may long for simplicity, simplifying things - simplifying our relationships, social life, work routine, our possessions, approach to social media, when we are attentive on the essentials, what's truly meaningful, and our focus is more connected with our inner life alongside our external life, valuing, enjoying the precious commodity and quality of our time on this planet and living in the present, doing less, living a balanced life, so we limit stress and reduce the likelihood of burnout.
Why am I soft in the middlePaul Simon
Why am I soft in the middle, now?
Why am I soft in the middle?
The rest of my life is so hard.
Fear Of Failure & Fear Of Making Mistakes
Experience teaches slowly and at the cost of mistakes.James A. Froude
Fearing Failure No life is free of failure. None of us want to fail and fear of failure (or success) is frequently connected to our wounded, fearful self. Though when we first learnt to walk, we fell and didn't take fall as a failure, and we can be hard on ourselves now, over-reacting to so called failure, getting frustrated, disappointed. Hand on heart we've all had moments of fearing failure, which can be compounded by some pre-existing beliefs. Some of us may have inherited behaviour, which may tend to reinforce we will fail (or sabotage things). So afraid of failure, we may not bother to try in the first place, make an effort. Remaining in our fear of failure can erode our esteem, confidence, make us impatient, hesitate, avoid taking up opportunities, taking risks, remaining in our comfort zone and procrastinate. Yet the longer we hesitate, avoid doing things, the more our fear can increase. Our failures, mistakes teach us resilience (there is a quote from Goldie, "I've learnt so much form my mistakes... I'm thinking of making a few more"). Our challenges may include:
- Stepping through our ego, allowing ourselves to fail
- Being willing to make mistakes
- Learning what we need to learn (often including discovering more about ourself - our strengths & weaknesses, appreciating small victories, accomplishments, correcting any mistakes)
- Check what isn't working, re-evaluating our strategy, persisting, gaining renewed resilience & courage - trying again
- Understanding the nature of fear, recognising, acknowledging our own & reducing, overcoming or transforming our fear, by taking action, going with the winds of change whether we succeed or not
- Letting go of our attachment to an outcome at times (and no longer basing our sense of worth on this), as we allow the process to unfold, so failure becomes less of a concept of being attached to outcomes & success becomes more aligned to effort & process (see also Measures Of Success)
What we learn from our failures dwarfs that of our successes.
Fear Of Failure Counselling Sometimes we can be so worried about the outcome, our performance ("What if I fail", "What if I look stupid", "What would others think of me if I don't do it well") that we fail to embrace the process and effort, (e.g. "I'm looking forward to trying, learning new things, being curious, I'm going to embrace the challenge, I'm going to enjoy putting all of myself into this"). And when we attach our sense of worth to doing our very best, the process of the task in hand can become more rewarding regardless of the outcome, even if we have set important goals and want to achieve them, because we are in the present moment with our efforts and desires in all that we can be, so we are less focused on future goals, because we are fully engaged in the process, manifesting our skills, resources, gifts, embracing the journey, less so the destination. As Merry Pickford said "You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing that we call 'failure' is not the falling down, but the staying down."
I honestly think it is better to be a failure at something you love, than to be a success at something you hate.George Burns
Learning From Our Mistakes Being human, we are all prone to making mistakes ("To err is human, to forgive is divine" - Alexander Pope). And for some fear of making mistakes can stop us starting things in the first place, seeing things through. Everybody makes mistakes and mistakes have the potential to bring us closer to the truth and help us discover through understanding & clarity, what we didn't know before, what we may need to do differently. Mistakes in some ways inform us of our consciousness and learning from them until something sticks may be important (see also Learning). Yet fear of making mistakes, getting things wrong, failure or not knowing can inhibit us. We can harshly give ourself a hard time when we make mistakes, try to be perfect, or expect others to be. When mistakes are made, it doesn't mean we have to lose trusting others or our partner. Acknowledging our flaws, shortcomings and accepting the consequences, may challenge us. We can be understanding & forgiving of children when they naturally make mistakes, but less so about our fallible selves or others (somehow believing that as adults we shouldn't make mistakes, or be forgiving of us and others). Apologising cleanly may help us. Reminding ourselves that we all make mistakes, being understanding & supportive of ourselves and others may help us. Yet as Sigmund Freud remarks, "From error to error one discovers the entire truth".
Nobody makes a greater mistake than he who does nothing because he could only do a little.Edmund Burke
Being Accountable For Our Own Mistakes What stops us from taking responsibility, accountability for our mistakes and the choices we make may be the judgements we have around these (e.g. we are wrong, to blame, inadequate) and the fears that follow (e.g. bad things will happen, we will be rejected, maybe humiliated). These responses have roots in our childhood, when we picked up that we weren't OK if we made mistakes, which were wrong and bad, and therefore we are wrong and bad. We may have learnt to blame ourselves or others, overlooking that it's OK for us to be compassionately human and therefore make mistakes, learn, grow, take risks and even laugh at our mistakes and the choices we make.
Mistakes are the portals of discovery.James Joyce
Reactions To Our Mistakes Making mistakes can sometimes erode our passion, be awkward, embarrassing, yet this doesn't have to last long. Taking responsibility for our mistakes, accepting some criticism, may not always be easy. We may react by running away from them, covering them up or denying our mistakes. (Some of us believe that if we don't know the answers, something bad will happen.) If we make a mistake, we can feel demoralised, sad, remorseful, wallow in self-pity or feel guilty, ashamed, bad or "found out". Disappointment, regret & anger may follow and we can beat ourself up, feel inadequate, become self-critical, blame or judge ourselves harshly. We can lose our integrity. Being kind, open-hearted to any harm we caused to us or others, saying sorry can be a struggle. Facing our mistakes - being sincere in seeking ways to correct our mistakes, acknowledging & accepting we've done something wrong, offering helpful ways forward, taking responsibility for our future actions may help us. A challenge here can be to be accepting, compassionately take responsibility for ourselves, learn & grow from the experience, so mistakes become opportunities for learning, creativity, to be emotionally freer as we trust, respect us & others. Forgiveness, valuing our self-worth (so we don't see failure as defining us), may also be important, as may taking time to reflect, gaining insights, so we can make better choices now. Making us wiser, stronger, the experience of mistakes can frequently offer us something good, offering us something to learn. Being resilient, assuring ourself, confiding in others we trust may help release some of our discomfort, frustrations. Letting go of what we need to may support us, alongside exploring the sources of our determination to fail, succeed.
Fear Of Success, Sabotaging Success It can be familiar to us to fear failure, yet like the flipside of a coin, in these apparent opposites we may also fear succeeding, affecting procrastination (maybe fear success in our relationship). This can be connected to having an impostor syndrome, feeling like a fraud. Exploring our humility and how we measure success and what it means for us may also be something we want to examine. Some of us may fear success so much that we may sabotage things. Counselling & psychotherapy can discuss these apparent contradictions with you alongside the role of our courage and as George Tilton says: "Success is never final and failure never fatal. It's courage that counts."
It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiouslyJ.K.Rowling
that you might as well not have lived at all - in which case, you fail by default.
Getting It Right, Needing To Be Right, Righteousness
Always Having To Get Things Right There are occasions we need to assert that we are right. Yet, rigid unequivocalness, righteousness as if we know best and the need to be right at all costs, convince others ("can't you see it my way?") may at times inhibit our creative process, stop us having different perspectives, learning. Relating well with others, giving ourself some time off, getting off this hook or letting go of this need to be right can be releasing as we allow for not knowing things. Fearing being wrong, we can spend much of our time driven (including being work driven), striving to get or make everything right, or understand everything. Sometimes this can be connected to it being so important what others think about us, as if somehow we are not good enough and we can give ourself away in the process.
You will face many defeats in your life, but never let yourself be defeated.Maya Angelou
Needing To Be Right In Relationships Sometimes we may need to emphasise, assert that we are right, yet we may want to consider whether being right is more important that enhancing our relationship with others, being kind. We may want to explore if we are willing to let go of our need to be right (or even allow ourselves to be wrong) and this can open up creativity, communication, new possibilities and solutions. For some of us the need to be right and win may be more important than to be open, loving in our relationship, happy or willing to learn. (See also Feeling Wronged - Needing To Be Right At The Cost Of Our Happiness)
Tomorrow is not guaranteed.
Self-Righteousness We may hold strong "should", "shouldn't", "ought", "must", "never", "always" beliefs. Others may think we're better or more evolved than others, yet when we are self-righteous it doesn't feel or look good to ourself and others, especially when we feel superior or inferior to others (which may point to us not feeling good enough). Frustrated, some of us may try to control others, situations, circumstances, outcomes. Our righteousness may become expressed through our anger. Our humility may be in short supply, as may owning our own helplessness over others, outcomes.
Uncertainty & The Unexpected
Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.Voltaire
When we are put on the spot with unexpected questions we may become suddenly anxious. It can help to pause, take a deep breath, take our time with a response, and should we not have an immediate response, consider confidently saying "Let me think about that for a moment" or "Let me get back to you". If we can't have an immediate response, we could ask for the question to be repeated (or repeat back the question ourself) or ask for clarification - what others think or with questions of our own.
Uncertainty is certain.
Living With Uncertainty, Unpredictability Nothing is certain. Unpredictability, randomness, fortune, uncertainty, like impermanence, are simply a part of life. We may have allowed these givens in life to make us feel uneasy, vulnerable, insecure inside, experience stress, fear and anxiety. Yet as part of our evolutionary process our survival also depends on a certain level of anxiety, distrusting the unknown in order for us to help us be safe. However, the red warning light can often go off unconsciously, unnecessarily, feeding intrusive thoughts, obsessive thoughts. Clinging on to all or nothing thinking may be a way we cope to avoid living with uncertainty. No matter how much we plan, we can't totally prepare for every eventuality (or know in advance higher states of consciousness). Being adaptable, flexible at times, acknowledging our healthy doubts, can support us. Not everything can be measured, easily reduced to certainty. Things aren't always predictable or secure. We may experience contradictory, ambivalent feelings. We are constantly in flux, and remaining as open as possible to our experiences can paradoxically take us to not knowing what we thought we knew, as our own experience of truth can evolve. We may feel insecure about what we are doing, how we are being, how to be. This in itself can bring up apprehension & existential anxiety or concerns (where what we thought was certain is no longer). As Sartre says "Everything has been figured out, except how to live" (see also Existential Despair, Existential Anger, Existential Depression). In an uncertain, unpredictable world, some of us can struggle with uncertainties, conflicts, contradictions, life's mess, mysteries and fear missing out on things (FOMO). Uncomfortable inside, some of us can't bear uncertainty & struggle to allow that some things can't be understood (as Mike Tyson stated "Everyone has a plan: until they get punched in the face"). We can be afraid of uncertainty affecting our procrastination, yet uncertainty can also be a springboard for us, when we allow things to unfold. Our greatest opportunities may arrive through uncertainty, yet we may struggle with change, transience, transitions and transformations in our life. If our attention is somewhere in the future or our past, staying present in the moment can be challenging for some. Some of us can learn to take comfort and even enjoy uncertainty, navigate through ambiguity, be creative, more imaginative. Being safe enough, knowing there is no certainty, comfortable, living without exactly knowing where we are heading, looking forward to how our life unfolds - being curious and confident in this place may support us. Counselling & psychotherapy can allow for any unwanted feelings that come up about uncertainties (including meaninglessness, the nature of our free will and relationship to fatalism, determinism, karma, nature and nurture, destiny, reflecting upon our own mortality, fear of death and questions such as: "How should I live?" or "Why am I here?"), so they can be expressed & managed. We can also be moved to thinking deeply about ourself, others & the wider world - what our true values & principles are, why we are here & what we really want to do with our life. The counselling also explores what else may be arising in us, including issues of control, responsibility, what happens to us when we free ourself, let go of what we need to, be flexible, surrender our own helplessness in certain situations, adapt to the shifting sands of life, or step outside of our familiar comfort zone, feel alone, uncertain that our future can't be predicted yet learn to be comfortable around this. We may want to feel secure, grounded, cultivate trust in our life with whatever it brings (a reason, a season for everything), the unknown, embracing uncertainty and similarly for what we don't expect. Being prepared for the unprepared allowing for surprises, spontaneity can be challenging, so although we have little or no control over the unexpected, we do have the control over how we healthily adapt, respond, grow and change.
When you become comfortable with uncertainty, infinite possibilities open up in your life.Eckhart Tolle
Fear Of Not Knowing (FONK Counselling) Tolerating Not Knowing - Our Need To Be In Control, Agnosiophobia Counselling
There are more questions than answers, and the more I find out the less I know.Johnny Nash
Control - Trying To Control Others, Situations, Circumstances, Outcomes Setting personal boundaries with others may be important for us. Yet anxious about time passing, not knowing what might happen, all of us may at times have tried to control others, circumstances at times, and judging this, may not help us learn, especially if compounded by excessive thoughts, or a sense of righteousness or a sense of impotent rage. There is little in our life we have complete control over - other people and how they feel, think and act (their behaviour and expecting them to change), external events, situations, even our expectations and also outcomes (maybe from the false beliefs that by worrying, we can control outcomes). Yet we can expend so much energy worrying about all sorts of things we can't control, trying to control circumstances, people. In our attempt to control others we may never let others win an argument withhold, withdraw, disengage, nor apologise (as a form of control others may over-apologise). Avoiding our feelings of helplessness (of outcomes, trying to change others, e.g. our partner, etc.), we may adopt a range of controlling or manipulative behaviours. (E.g. we may try to act loving in the hope others will love us. We may get angry, judgemental, and critical of others with the false belief we will have control over how they feel about us, treat us. Or we may give ourself up, going along with what others want.) In our relationship we may also try to control our partner as a means of avoiding intimacy or commitment. We may find out that our controlling behaviour doesn't change others, outcomes or circumstances, yet superficially protects us from intolerable helplessness, which we are afraid to feel. We may struggle coming to terms with the few guarantees there are in life, which may bring us up against existential concerns. The belief that we should know all the answers - be perfect may be an unhelpful pressure. Embracing the unknown, giving ourselves permission to not know things may release us from fear of not knowing. Counselling for FONK can explore in us letting go of the illusion of trying to control others, outcomes or enforcing things so we can focus on what we can control - us (and whether or not to learn to manage life's core, painful feelings). This can empower us, make things easier, allow things to evolve. Our need to control may also be linked to many factors (see also Neurotic Anxiety Treatment, Anxiety Control) - some related to our past. Our control issues may be connected to internalising a controlling, authoritarian parent we experienced when younger, so we had to give ourselves up and we may continue to fear this now, that no one will want us, reject or abandon us, so we become controlling. We therefore may be limiting ourself, not emotionally free, controlling others, because it may be more important to avoid rejection, gain approval, validation. The FONK counselling in London explores how our need to control may come from an empty, fearful (maybe depressed) wounded place rather than our loving adult. For some of us it can feel catastrophic when we need to face our not knowing (as Mike Tyson stated "Everyone has a plan: until they get punched in the face"), yet as we do and manage our frustration we grow through this, valuing the process, the journey and the effort to unfold, less attached to outcomes or trying to forecast what outcomes will be, so as we let go of being preoccupied about the future and attaching our happiness to that, or our need to control, we are able to be in the moment open to our light-heartedness, playfulness, carefreeness, laughter, fun & our sense of humour.
In an infinite universe we know precisely nothing.Douglas Adams
Our Need To Control - What We May Tell Ourselves We may need to feel safe, trying to do this through control by managing our anxiety to pre-empt what might happen - imagining all the possible scenarios. In our intention to control, we may worry to stop bad things happening, imagine catastrophes, have a sense of impending doom, or tell ourselves: "If we do this, then that will happen", "If I say this, the other person will react in a certain way". If only we say or do things right, achieve things, be the boss, earn enough money, be understood, get angry, upset, disappointed, blame, pray or meditate, say affirmations (giving us an external sense of worth), then we may believe we can control outcomes and how others feel about us. If only others could see things the way we see them, think & believe how we think, may also be an attempt to control them (see also Wanting To Change Others, Our Partner). By attempting to control others, outcomes & circumstances, we may have ignored our internal sense of safety through our need for external safety. It may be challenging for us to let go of forcing outcomes and what we can't control, dropping our resistances & struggles allow for the strength of our vulnerability), knowing our destination, making things happen to get there, listening & learning, utilising our imagination along the way can support us. We may be telling ourselves that it's weak not to know things or that we always have to do things, yet ignore our state of being. (See also Background/Foreground Thoughts, Our Self-Talk, What We Tell Ourselves, Internal Dialogue - Choosing What We Think)
Wanting All The Answers As if there is only one right answer (see also Concrete Thinking, Rigid Thinking, Thinking In Absolutes & Over-Generalising - All Or Nothing Thinking, Either/Or Thinking, Duality, we may hold on rigidly to needing to know everything, yet can't know everything and relaxing into this can let us off the hook. Often the more we seek answers to life's questions, the further away we get from us & the answers. Asking "Why?" and being curious can be valuable, so we gain valuable knowledge, understand things and are able to reflect, yet may also drain our energy and resilience, discourage us from being in the moment, making decisions, being OK without having everything figured out, that when we are ready, answers will be found. Sometimes putting aside what we know, being open to the vastness of consciousness, accepting what we are yet to know is greater than what we do can open up the door to our creativity, give us different perspectives.
No one knows everything.Bangambiki Habyarimana
Living With What's Impermanent, Unknown Some of us can be stuck in our heads, forever trying to work things out, need explanations, intellectualising everything, analysing things. We may not allow the healthy side of doubt to exist. We may compartmentalise or label things, keeping us safe, staving off our anxiety. Also, we may be out of touch with our emotions. We may seek certainty in a future which is unknown, including whether things in our relationship will work out. We may want to control the future by trying to work out all possible scenarios, which stops us experiencing the moment (which is what we can be sure of), valuing our subjective experience. In an incomprehensible world, we may desire absolutes - what's right or wrong by developing "all or nothing" thinking or struggle with double-binds, paradox. We may expect things to last forever. Expecting things (even our own life) to last forever, we may attempt to make impermanent things permanent. Yet no matter how tightly we try to have a grip on things lasting, the fact is that everything will change. Nothing is permanent and time passes. Impermanence, how and when we die, and then what happens, may also be an underlying concern. Appreciating things while we have them may be important. Although questioning in life is important, we can be overly dependent on knowing & categorising everything to make us externally safe. We can take comfort in familiarity, finding it hard to let in anything new, listen to our intuition. Holding our expectations lightly, not to have any at times, may be challenging. Nature teaches us much about suffering, complexity and simplicity, chaos & uncertainty, and some of us want to deny this natural process. Life is not predictable and bearing the unpredictable, process of chaos at times can enable order to follow. Recognising this, learning to accept inherent unpredictability, allows us to embrace all of what life offers, hold hope, accept and thrive. How we create, or respond to, turmoil or chaos in our life now may also point to our experience of turmoil & chaos when younger, which may have its roots in the past. We may believe that chaotic moments should be avoided at all costs and the process of therapy can explore this further with you alongside what it's like to put aside what we know, let go of the need to know everything, be open and relaxed with uncertainty, paradox, ambiguity, have compassionate humility.
Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.William Bruce Cameron
Our Response To The Unknowable For many of us it can be counter-intuitive to be comfortable with not knowing things and when we don't know thing, this can paralyse us, we can freeze, stop doing things or be stuck in self-doubt. We may believe it is shameful not to know things, or that if we ask, we are weak. Telling ourselves we always must know things can put us on an uncomfortable hook. We may want to believe we should know the right & only answers for everything, that nothing should be ambiguous or a mystery (as Nietzsche wrote "Life is not a problem to be solved, but a mystery to be lived"). This same mystery may also be connected to the mystery of love or our sexual desire. We don't know what we don't know. As an American politician struggled to articulate that not all things can be known. "There are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns." We may struggle with what is unresolved, irresolvable, insoluble & the ever-changing ethical & emotional dilemmas we face. Impatient, insecure inside, we may want to be more relaxed, permitting ourselves not to know or control everything. Not being in control can bring up a lot in us. We may continuously keep busy & find silence difficult. Holding on to things we no longer need to, we may struggle to let go (especially if we believe we know everything, should know everything or take others' ideas as truths, which may also inhibit any spiritual search). Allowing ourselves to be lost, trusting it's OK that we don't know, we may want to place trust in us, trusting our feelings, senses, listen to our inner voice. Psychotherapy can provide the space to manage our confusions, frustrations & anxiety, explore what it would mean to give up our need to control, be open to learning. This may help us tolerate, bear the unknown, unknowable & the unexpected, suffering. And we may want to journey into some of these unknown territories, sit with things, see what else emerges. These areas too can be explored in counselling alongside exploring what is in our control. We also have an unconscious. Utilising our imagination & enjoying our curiosity (like the wondering or curiosity we had as a child, when it didn't matter) we may want to discover more about us, including what's been hidden, dormant aspects of our imagination, our values & the world, our own truth & knowledge.
Believe those who are seeking the truth; doubt those who find it.Andre Gide
Mystery, Not Knowing & Being In Control The need to have 100% security, be in full control & know everything may be a factor for some, affecting our decision making, choices. We may try to rule out surprises, spontaneity. Life and our future aren't predictable or always knowable. (Socrates writes of "I know that I know nothing".) Making things happen has its place, yet so does letting things happen, especially when we can't control things that can't be controlled. Life is also full of the unfamiliar, unexpected & uncontrollable. We may also want to let things unfold in their own time, own way. Little is guaranteed in life and the inevitability of change may not sit easy with us. Some of us may need to control things, because inside there is a part of us that feels out of control, doesn't know things, feels helpless, vulnerable, which we may struggle to bear, yet not knowing can be a place of intimacy in our relationship, as we let go of what we need to. Finding it hard to integrate the mystery of life, we may fear chaos, things falling apart, the mystery of death. Frustrated inside, we may struggle to accept the things we cannot control, which are out of our hands, yet remain powerful inside. Being powerless over other people & events, can be challenging for some, especially if we struggle with codependency. Trusting mystery and the unknown, sitting with not knowing, remaining in control, supported by our willpower & resolve and being in the moment, may be important. Some of these struggles may bring us up against our existential concerns. No one can state how the cosmos came into being, nor explain how consciousness exists. Learning to sit with the mystery of life may be a challenge (See also Life's Predicaments, Priorities, Paradoxes, Contradictions, Conflicts, Contrasts, Dilemmas, Ambivalence)
The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious.Albert Einstein
Exploring What's In Our Control The word "control" can be confusing and control can be both beneficial and harmful, depending on our intent, so when our intent is to be loving to ourself and others, then control can be beneficial, as can self-control, self-discipline. Yet when our wounded self acts in ways that harm us and others, this can be controlling, unless we exert control from our loving adult to prevent our wounded self from taking charge and acting out. Our need to control may be connected to pre-empting what may happen in order to manage our anxiety. Some of us may omnipotently believe everything is in our control and we may struggle to let go, accept what is. Rather than getting stressed over things we can't control or change, we may want to utilise the counselling to focus on what it is we do have control over in our life, what we can change, including our attitude, the power of surrender, our intentions, actions, opinions alongside aspects of our personal qualities, inherent nature, innateness, integrity, choice of who we relate with.
It's not easy to predict anything, especially not the future.Unknown
The Unknown & Being Safe Enough Exploring risk and safety may be important to us. Letting go of what we've known for so long, our beliefs or need to control everything (and surrendering the illusion of control), allowing in what we don't know, being safe enough in uncertainty, compassionate to us & others, may be our biggest challenge, alongside what keeps us safe externally & internally. In the counselling & psychotherapy we may also want to address what's in our control and what isn't, our personal boundaries, being anchored in our own ground, integrating our feelings, being safe in our feelings, moving our intent from what's controlling to what's loving. Being willing to give up control by having to know & do everything may be challenging as may allowing for spontaneity, surprises. In our need to control things, a part of us may be disorganised, out of control, which we may find hard to acknowledge, and this too can be explored in counselling & psychotherapy. Some of us may be so used to living in our concrete, literal world, that our imaginary world gets sacrificed. Key to living with the unknown is managing our frustrations with their origins in early years. (See also The Realm of the Unconscious)
One doesn't discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.Andre Gide
Holding, Responding To Ambivalence Concrete thinking, being definite about things without any self-doubt can be helpful, essential at times, yet holding mixed thoughts, contradictory views and feelings - living with ambivalence, life's contradictions, all sides of our nature, can be challenging, (especially when it stops us making decisions, moving forward, affecting our relationship). It can also be rewarding when we hold a bridge between two opposing entities, integrate all aspects of ourself. When we are in touch with our contradictions, we may also be freer to be creative. Holding our boundaries can support us with our discomfort, ambivalence and contradictory feelings as can exploring if any of our own attachment style tends to be ambivalent.
Overview Fear-driven, some of us can get anxious if we don't have all the answers or can't always get it right or be perfect. There may be a part of us that is never satisfied. If we can't bear not knowing, have a fear of making mistakes, being wrong, become over-demanding or try to be a perfectionist it can be tiring (not just to us) & a lot to live up to. We may also expect others to posses our own high standards. Other needs or areas of our life may be neglected. Avoiding difficult feelings, being inconsolable may be at the heart of our behaviour, and some of us may try to fix things, please others or turn to unwanted habits or addictions. Our need to be in control may include the need to control others so we are not rejected by them. Some of us may also have control issues in our relationship or marriage or fear commitment. We may take everything seriously, struggling to loosen & lighten up, or find humour in things - making love more important than control. Letting go, allowing things to dissolve, learning to live comfortably with our limitations of being human, may support us. The counselling & psychotherapy can help us in these areas.
The ones that don't know, holding the complexities, are the wise leaders of tomorrow.Unknown
Specific Questions About Counselling For Perfectionism & Uncertainty We may be struggling with uncertainty, ambivalence, perfectionism, fear making mistakes and have questions around these, e.g:
- Uncertainty problem - How can I live with uncertainty?
- Ambivalent - how do I respond to my ambivalence?
- Making mistakes - how do I overcome my fear of making mistakes?
- Perfectionism - at times I am a perfectionist - how can I overcome my perfectionism?
- Dealing with perfectionism - I have perfectionism problem and need perfectionism help - what is the perfectionism cure?
- Is perfectionism therapy helpful in overcoming perfectionism?
FAQs about the perfectionism Counselling London practice based in Kings Cross, Camden:
- What is the frequency of perfectionism counselling in London, Kings Cross?
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- Must I visit your London counselling practice in Camden or do you offer Skype counselling, online counselling or Telephone counselling?
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