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Focusing Tip #704 – “Something in me can’t bear to not be perfect at what I do.”

Focusing Tip #704 – “Something in me can’t bear to not be perfect at what I do.”
May 20, 2020 Ann Weiser Cornell
When you feel you have to be perfect, it's often because you are being shamed from inside

Focusing Tip #704 – “Something in me can’t bear to not be perfect at what I do.”

When you feel you have to be perfect, it’s often because you are being shamed from inside. Read on…


Maire writes:

I am about to complete my degree in counseling. Last week, I said something to a client wasn’t really appropriate… and I’ve cried about it ever since. I keep telling myself that a mistake is merely a chance to learn, but that doesn’t help!

Something in me can’t bear to not be perfect at what I do.

Dear Maire:

When you cried for so long after saying something not really appropriate to your client, I would guess that was in response to being shamed from inside.

There is a part called a Protector that is formed (usually) in childhood, in reaction to what I’m sure you know from your counseling training as “lack of secure attachment.” In other words, a childhood where we felt insecure to a serious degree in our primary relationships.

This type of part is on a mission to make us as “good” as possible so we won’t have to suffer more losses… and perhaps we will even win the love we long for. Shaming is one of the strategies this part uses to whip us into shape.

Understanding this doesn’t make it any less painful! At least at first.

But things can start to really change when we can form a new kind of relationship with the Protector… a relationship where we listen to what it is really worried about instead of responding to its shaming.

There are actually two parts here, I believe.

The one you would say Hello to first is the very emotional one you feel in your body, the part of you that feels ashamed. It’s not you! It’s a part of you that needs your love and company.

Next, say another Hello to the Protector part that is unhappy at what you said to your client because it is so worried about something… what it means about you, or what might happen. It’s the worry under the shaming that we want to hear.

When you can be the compassionate inner listener to these inner parts of you… parts of you that are all like children really… then the experiences of love, safety, and security can re-enter your inner world. The need to be perfect relaxes, and the enjoyment of life as it is grows greater and greater.

For additional support

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