If you’ve identified an inner perfectionist, here are five strategies for getting it out of your way before it sabotages your weight loss plan or triggers emotional eating.
1. Separate yourself from your perfectionist. YOU are not your perfectionist. However, if you’ve been applying all-or-nothing standards for a long time, you might feel like you are. Spend some time stepping back and observing your behavior. Get familiar with the perfectionistic thinking. Notice where it comes up and what the consequences are when it does.
2. Label it. Start thinking about “that unhelpful inner perfectionist” or whatever name you want to give this way of thinking that gets in your way. Acknowledge it to yourself whenever you see it—“there goes that unhelpful perfectionistic thinking again.” This is different than “I’M doing it again.” Remind yourself of tip number one. Your inner perfectionist is an it and is NOT you. It’s simply a way of thinking–which you can change.
3. Make a list of all the ways that your inner perfectionist is not helpful or the examples of how your perfectionist has made or can make things worse. Don’t forget to include the guilt and shame that usually comes with listening to an inner perfectionist (because we never measure up).
4. Create an alternate mantra. Come up with a short, sweet message that you can use when the perfectionistic thinking chimes in with “you screwed up” or “you failed” or “now you blew it.” This must be a message you believe to be true. It may be as simple as “nobody’s perfect” or “trying to be perfect is not helpful to me.”
5. Give yourself permission to encounter your perfectionist over and over. Don’t fall into a trap of expecting to be perfect in vanquishing your inner perfectionist. You’ll have success—sometimes—and sometimes you won’t feel so successful. But over time and practice, it gets easier. Really.
Feel free to reprint on your own website, newsletter, blog or message board as long as you include the following: Melissa McCreery, PhD, ACC is a psychologist, certified life coach, and the founder of Enduring Change Coaching, a company that specializes in providing programs and resources to help women worldwide create the lives they’ve been craving and weight loss that lasts. Her newest program, The Weight Loss Winner's Circle helps women stay on track, stay out of self-sabotage, and have positive support as they meet their weight loss goals.
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