I admire perfectionism, I have a healthy dose of this trait myself – but it is when perfectionist tendencies turn rigid that they become a problem – both for the person with the stratospheric expectations, and for those around them.
Perfectionism – the need for things to be 100% perfect all the time, can engender very clear delineations between right and wrong, which when rigidly adhered to, can form into strongly held beliefs which can hold the person back from enjoying life.
Life doesn’t come with 100% perfection (although you can argue that life in itself is inherently 100% perfect – and therein lies the dichotomy) – but although there is huge merit in striving for lofty goals, by adhering to a rigid set of beliefs takes you right out of the flow of life and drops you into a reality based on fear and guilt.
And when you see those two characters driving a person, it can turn ugly. I have come across this pattern in what I would call “raw food extremists” more and more, and it is something that distresses me quite a bit.
Life is about flow, rolling with the punches as it were, and keeping a sense of balance and equilibrium in the perpetual ups and downs we encounter.
Some of us have beliefs that we should eat 100% organic, 100% of the time, and that is a great goal to have – but what happens when your Mum puts time and effort into creating a special raw dish for you at the family BBQ, and she doesn’t buy organic ingredients? Do you eat it with graciousness and a smile, or reject both Mum and the food to hold to your perfectionist principles?
In life we are presented with situations that are not going to fit within our guidelines of perfection, but this is where I feel that being flexible instead of rigid, allows us to act with grace in these moments. If we allow our beliefs to control our life, rather than having our beliefs underpin a healthy and happy outlook, then we can react with fear – “if I put a morsel of this non-organic food in my mouth – it is going to harm me!”. We attack, instead of accept that life is going to present moments of imperfection – and how we handle that, I feel, is a reflection of how healthy we are, in body, mind and spirit.
That’s not to say, of course, that you don’t aim to meet those targets 95% of the time – whether those goals involve being raw, or organic, or vegan or whatever you choose when it comes to your health aspirations. Those are wonderful ambitions to be admired and applauded. It is when that 5% comes in to shake your tree, that the truth of where those beliefs come from is revealed.
Do you respond with negativity, attack, fear, judgment, or anger? Or are you able to smile, shrug, enjoy and move on. We cannot control everything in this life, and when we fool ourselves that we can, we set ourselves up to be disappointed.
I worked at a very, very strict raw vegan detoxification retreat for many years, and I strongly recommend those principles for healing almost any type of disease. When you are in the midst of healing a chronic, degenerative or even life-threatening illness, this is when you want to be as close to 100% as possible. But in day to day life when we are relatively healthy, I think being a little flexible in the 5% can go a long way.
Remember, we breathe more toxins walking outside in a city or large town, than we do by occasionally eating something that is not organic. So we need to keep things in perspective, and when we are in that space of butting up against our beliefs, we need to go within and see if that belief is serving us in this situation, or is it actually dropping us into fear or guilt. If it is, we need to question the belief and re-frame it, so that it allows us to flow with life and act with kindness and grace. To allow us to be healthy in attitude, as well as in body.
Our beliefs, goals and ambitions are here to empower us and take us forward in life. I urge you to sit with what I have written about today, and examine your own beliefs and how they form your interactions with others, especially around food.
This is why my tagline is “healing is a journey, not just a raw food diet” because I wholeheartedly believe that health is more than just the physical body. It is about having within you, love, kindness, compassion, grace, joy, and appreciation, and expressing those beautiful traits outwards so that you become a walking, talking, shining example of health on all levels.
I believe when we are truly healthy, this is our natural state. Do you agree?