Often we go through life thinking and believing that we have to be a certain way or we “must be seen as” a particular type of person. We carry that “must be seen as” ideal as a badge or an identity. As a Naval officer, I lived that life for many years. When the “must be seen as” identity is incongruent with who you really are, you suffer.
For example, I had a client who was a successful executive in the entertainment industry and led many projects and people. Although she had many career achievements, she didn’t have much love in her 20 year marriage and she wasn’t much liked by her coworkers. Her reason, she proudly offered, is because she was a perfectionist and she relentlessly held everyone at work and at home to her high standards. She justified this way of thinking because her father had held her to these same standards. She confessed that even if she hated what she was doing she had to finish first and above anyone. She felt she was better than anyone who could not meet her high standards and she let them know through subtle and not so subtle ways. When she couldn’t meet her goals, it was undoubtedly because of the fault of others.
Though satisfied in achieving her goals, she had alienated everyone around her and was now suffering from back pain and frequent headaches. At work, her bosses saw her as polished, accomplished, important, all knowing and infallible. In reality, by her admittance she was sad, lonely, depressed and afraid to fail. She had no peer friends and feared her marriage was over.
Our hypnotherapy sessions were very successful as my client discovered that she had core beliefs of being stupid, worthless, less than, weak and not being able to keep up. She had been in competition with her older siblings her whole life and to get the approval of the one person she admired the most, her dad, she had to be first, the best…perfect because that is what he expected. The follow on coaching sessions were helpful as she learned that many of the problems in her marriage and with her coworkers were self-imposed. Her beliefs caused what she now calls her “superior” behavior. She realized that she was living for her father’s “must be seen as” image.
Through our coaching sessions, she learned to let go of perfection and rather do her very best. She didn’t relax her standards of care toward her work yet she allowed for things outside of her control. She began taking responsibility for her part when things didn’t go exactly as planned and she even left the dished in the sink at home, which amazed yet delighted her husband. Over the weeks, she became happier and started having lunch with a coworker instead of eating alone at her desk. She also took a much needed cruise vacation with her husband to rekindle their relationship.
During our last coaching session she told me she felt relieved and lighter. She was thankful that she no longer had to be seen as perfect or the one who demanded perfection. She realized that she didn’t need her father’s approval anymore and all the self-imposed obligations and standards were irrelevant. When she let go of that burden, her backaches and headaches went away. She says she feels free and at peace.
As you read this story, what self-imposed obligations are robbing you of your freedom? Is there personas from that past that are hindering your life? Are irrelevant “must be seen as” identities blocking your peace or making you ill? Ponder these questions. If you need help letting go, I’m here to help.
Dee Woolridge CIHt, CLC, RMT