Tending the Heart, Cultivating Compassion, Growing Inner Peace
Judy Noddin, LMFT
Internal Family Systems, Somatic and Expressive Arts Therapy
If you are struggling with perfectionism, you may have a sense of “being at war” with yourself. You may have a highly critical internal voice constantly keeping score and telling you what you’ve done wrong. Or perhaps this voice just goes for the throat and tells you that you as a person are wrong—that at your core you are broken, inherently flawed, and have no value unless you are outwardly “successful.” And even when you are outwardly successful--it is never good enough for this critical self.
Perfectionism can lead to a driving obsession with self-improvement. Often this perfectionism leads to paralyzing procrastination, making the person suffering with it afraid to do anything or make any choices because of the intensity of this critical voice:
“Don’t do anything unless you can do it perfectly!” this voice admonishes. Of course, having this negative voice "yelling" at you all the time is not conducive to growth and a successful life. In order to grow and learn to do things well, we must be willing to try things we don’t know how to do, make mistakes and learn from our mistakes. So, ultimately, this critical voice stunts growth.
Another way this internal critic may impact you is you may stay overly busy in an attempt to "drown out" this critical voice and as a result feel very disconnected from yourself and the people in your life. If you have an internal critic as your constant companion, you likely have difficulty relaxing, having fun and connecting to others.
You also may find yourself as critical of others as this voice is of you. This usually creates conflict in relationships. As a result, you may find yourself isolated, or without close friends.
In order to heal this internal shame, it is helpful to get to know this critical part of you and develop a relationship with it—actually befriend it in order to disarm it. There are usually other aspects of the self present that go completely unnoticed because of the loudness of the critical voice. Internal Family Systems (IFS), Drama and Expressive Arts Therapy are especially useful in helping to externalize this internal drama through parts mapping, dialoguing and/or role-play with parts, drawing, sandtray and other experiential methods. I can help you involve these aspects of yourself in an open dialogue and, through mindful engagement, begin to interact with these parts with gentleness, humor and compassion. I will help you understand what this critical voice, or part, is trying to accomplish for you and how to help this part learn new ways to help you accomplish those goals.
By identifying and coming to know all of the seemingly disparate parts of yourself, I can help empower the aspects of yourself you want in the driver's seat of your life (for example the adult Self as opposed to the child parts, and the compassionate Self as opposed to the critic). Through this work, you can begin to relate to yourself with more self-compassion, feel more integrated, and begin to experience a newfound peace.