Today we are delving into Chapters 19 and 20 in this wonderful book by author Dr. Louise Hart. We are moving through this book, and will be starting our new book entitled “Kids, Parents, and Power Struggles” by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka and it comes in audiobook and Kindle editions, along with the traditional paperback and hardcover versions, so grab a copy to be ready for later summer! Here is the Amazon link (no affiliation)
Chapter 19 is titled, “Obsession with Perfection.” This chapter opens with a description of the author trying to be a perfect hostess but not enjoying herself or her guests. She writes: “When I realized how much my perfectionist expectations were inhibiting my lifestyle and cramping my self-expression, I decided to make some major changes. I gave myself permission to attempt things I never thought I could do and enjoy myself more. In doing so, I have taken more risks, made more mistakes, and gained more wisdom. From the vice of perfectionism, life is much more fun and a lot easier – page 179
I love this, and I think many of us can relate as recovering perfectionists. Being a perfectionist essentially means we are looking for what is wrong, for meeting unrealistic or impossible expectations. Perfectiontists see the world as black and white – it is good or it is bad. One thing wrong, one mistake, means things are bad. Perfectionists often cannot accept themselves or others. Making decisions turns into anxiety – because what if it is the wrong decision? It also turns into the perfectionist overworking, because no one else can do the work correctly. Children who are perfectionists often have all of this ahead of them. Help tame your own perfectionism, and that of your children’s with the tips beginning on page 183. In addition to these tips, I urge you to look at all the work and resources around growth mindset.
Chapter 20 is about “Cultural Barriers to Self-Esteem,” and begins with a description of codependency. Major symptoms of codependency include low self-esteem; being a people pleaser; feeling like a martyr; having poor boundaries; seeking outside distraction from feelings such as food, work, sex, alcohol; feeling addicted to and trapped in damaging relationships; feeling powerless the change relationships; being unable to express true love andintimacy.
Perhaps the very first step toward overcoming these things is our own self-talk. Then we can listen to how we talk to our children. We should not speak negatively of ourselves or others, and we need to look at the good things about ourselves and others. If indeed we must “love our neighbors as ourselves,” which is tenet of nearly every major religious and spiritual core, we must begin with loving ourselves. We must learn to take good care of ourselves, and in this way we can take good care of our children too.
There are great sections in this chapter on always pleasing others (do you have a permanent smile because you are happy or because you want everyone to like you and you don’t think your feelings count?); assuming you are responsible for everyone else’s lives (news flash, people are responsible for themselves and you can’t control what other people do); that our bodies are okay the way they are; avoidance strategies and dualistic thinking; comparison traps and more. This is a great chapter full of practical advice!
We have five chapters left and then on to our new book! I have gotten a lot of email that so many of you have really enjoyed this thought-provoking book! Let me know what you think!