Love Letter #143: Will You Really Be Happy When

Perfectionism is intricately woven into our lives in ways that are often perceived as ‘normal’, but it truly isn’t. I know…bad news two days in a row…but my heart really wants you to hear this. Okay? 

Were you aware that martyrdom is tied to perfectionism?

Perfectionism often leads us to self-abandon, excessive concern for others and struggles with setting and maintaining healthy boundaries. The boundary issues is understandable as many of us weren’t allowed boundaries as children, and we’re still unsure of how and when to put them in place. 

These perfectionist behaviors are mostly driven by a desires to avoid the shame of being disliked, or seen as a terrible person, often at the cost of our own happiness and enjoyment of life.

I remember speaking with a woman whose son-in-law was undergoing cancer treatment. She canceled her travel plans saying, “I can’t enjoy myself while he’s going through this”. In other words, she believed she could only be happy and able to travel when his condition improved. But is that true?

White kindness, empathy, and being helpful towards others are extremely important, depriving yourself of joy doesn’t help the person in need. It may actually make them feel worse knowing their situation is affecting your happiness. Wouldn’t you hate that if the roles were reversed?

Perfectionism compels us to take on excessive responsibility for others, even when they haven’t asked for it. This leads to enmeshment in their emotions and problems, ultimately to our detriment. We become victims for the perceived benefit of others and that often leads to later resentment.

Perfectionism might raise concerns such as, “What if there’s an emergency while she’s traveling, and her family needs her?”

This perspective is steeped in perfectionism. First, it involves an unrealistic need to predict and control the future. Second, it highlights how worrying is a poor use of imagination. Wouldn’t focusing on a positive future serve everyone better?

Playing the perfectionist martyr implies that the adults at the center of this situation aren’t capable of managing their own lives. Sure, they may need help, but they’re fully capable of asking for it. 

I’ve been the perfectionist martyr, and I can still fall into that trap if I’m not careful about my own boundaries and needs. We can all be supportive without sacrificing and abandoning ourselves. Embracing this balance allows us to live fully while being there for others in a healthy, sustainable way.

Recognizing the ties between perfectionism and self-sacrifice is crucial for our spiritual well-being. By understanding how to be supportive without abandoning ourselves, we reclaim our joy by setting healthier boundaries. True empathy and kindness do not require us to forfeit our happiness; rather they flourish when we nurture our own lives as well.

Finding our inner balance here allows us to be present and genuinely helpful to others while living fulfilling lives ourselves. In doing so, we honor both our needs and the needs of those we care about, creating a more compassionate and harmonious existence. 

With love,

Wow…that’s a lot! But if inner harmony is what you are looking for, let’s hop on a call and talk about creating boundaries in your life. 

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