You may have caught my recent reflection on placing those we admire onto unhealthy pedestals. If you can relate to the struggles that we can pick up from society and place on ourselves to be perfect, superhuman, or always having it “all together” (whatever that really means!), I want to assure you that you are totally not alone. In fact, here’s a personal note from this non-fearless leader. ;)
Perfectionism is something that I’ve personally battled throughout my whole life. And I find that it is precisely whenever I start to put pressure on myself and begin to delusionally think that I need to measure up to some impossible and undefined standard, it’s then when my perfectionism rears its dragon head the most.
Recently, that dragon came out to play big-time as I was getting this website ready to share with you. “What if everyone hates it? What if it isn’t good enough? Ugh....that looks so dumb. Why can’t I get it to....? That’s just not the right picture for that page. Those spaces are off. There’s too much ___ on that part. There’s not enough____ over there.” And on and on! Oh, those voices in our heads! They’re crazy-making, if we let them be! :)
So finally, after spiraling down into as much of a mental storm of self-criticism and cruel self-judgment as I could handle, I tuned in to the part of my spirit that is 5-going-on-6 years old. ;) I decided to give my perfectionism dragon a name and a character concept. His name is Irmgard. (Yes, I realize that this is a lovely feminine German name, but that’s neither here nor there in this example. It was the first name that popped into my head before I knew what it meant, and I went with it!)
So, in my mind, Irmgard is bright orange with green horns and looks a little like a stegosaurus/T-rex combo. In human form, he also looks, sounds, and acts a little like the food critic Anton Ego from the Disney move “Ratatouille.” (If you’ve never seen that movie and are curious about this character, look him up later on. You may find yourself chuckling, especially if you have a similar inner dragon!)
Now, when I hear my dragon’s critical voice in my head, I can easily personify him as a separate entity that just happens to hang out in my thoughts sometimes. “That’s just Irmgard. Don’t listen to him so much. He’s just trying to bring you down!”
What? Separate entities and voices in our heads?! And making up names for them on purpose? Sounds like we’re a few cards short of a deck, doesn’t it? ;) But seriously—they’re there anyway, aren’t they?! So we may as well lighten them up a little so they don’t take over our precious mental real estate. Our minds, our time, and our energies are much too valuable to let those critical dragons try to come out and bug us for too long. In time, if we really practice these ideas, we may actually find that we and our dragons can maybe even agree to be friends.
Befriending our inner perfectionist dragons can be so beneficial to us. Because, in all reality, they do serve a good purpose too, if we can get past all of their constant criticizing! They are there to remind us that although it’s so important to accept ourselves just as we are, it’s equally important to keep growing and keep opening to all the wonders within us and around us. Staying stagnant in a constantly changing world is a harsh sentence we can place on ourselves, sometimes without even realizing it. “Don’t give up,” Irmgard also wants to tell me. “Don’t stop growing and becoming all you can be. Because you are worth discovering more and more of the miracle that is you.”
Here’s your challenge from me for this week, if you choose to try it. ;) Take some time and think about your own inner dragon. Maybe it’s one like Irmgard who loves to try to convince you that you should be perfect. Or maybe it says some other cruel, unkind, harsh, critical things to you. If you don’t think you have an inner dragon, just pay closer attention to your thoughts. He may just show up faster than you may think!
Then, as you think about him, personify him (or her, or it) in some way. Give him a name. Imagine what he looks like, but don't overthink it. Make this exercise fun. You can even draw him if you want to. Did you enjoy drawing or coloring when you were little? Go ahead—do that in your mind’s eye, or if you feel so inspired, on a real piece of paper.
Then, throughout the week, see how much he shows up in your daily life. See if you can start noticing him more. See if you can let him be the one who’s saying all that crazy stuff to you in your head, instead of you saying it to yourself. Even more, ask him what he’s trying to teach you when he shows up. Just try this exercise and see what happens. :) And if you feel so inspired, come back to the comments section on this page and let me know more about your dragon and how he shows up.
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Want to send some more compassion and love to any of your own inner critics? Check out my first book here. It's a great place for doing just that!
No matter what, always remember this: You are deserving, you are worthy, and you are good enough. Keep being you, keep shining, and keep growing!
With great love,