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They come from the third layer of our psychological experience. We recalibrated her thinking away from weight and more around honoring a daily commitment. Each day she would eat according to her food plan. Each day she would practice meditation. Each day she would do physical activity. She would no longer be focused on the scale; instead she would be focused on making each day count toward self-care. And we decided to give her one day off each week if she wanted to not commit to her plan. Today, Janet has lost forty pounds and kept it off for eighteen months. She feels emotionally more stable and physically at the top of her game. The thing I am probably the most proud of is the example I am setting for my children, she says. They ask for a lot less junk food than before and will play outside instead of watching television. They are happier, and that makes me happier too. And interestingly enough, after the first month back, she did not take off the one day a week that we had planned for. She liked keeping to her plan every day. It made her feel in charge and successful. She liked the way her body and mind felt keeping a daily routine and not indulging in her old behaviors. We tried some strategies to help Penelope deal with her husband; some helped and some didn't. I suggested they separate their finances and have only individual credit cards, not joint ones. She didn't go for that. I suggested that if he was supposed to do something she could set a certain number of days to have it finished.

If he hadn't done it in time she could hire someone to do it. This would be better than nagging, or just staying angry, or doing it herself, which would only make her more angry. When she got totally fed up with finding his clothes on the floor all over the house, I suggested that she put a brown paper bag in each room. Then if there were clothes on the floor she could put them in the bags, and she could tell her husband that she would only launder clothes she found in the dirty clothes hamper. He was a good dresser who cared about his appearance so this strategy worked. He started putting his clothes in the hamper and eventually she didn't need the grocery bags. When something happens to us, our right brain does a quick, gut-level search through our bank of life experiences to find the past experience that most resembles this present event. Our right brain has less than a second to sort through all our memories and choose one that best compares with the present experience so we have some idea of how to respond, even in the absence of additional information. Considering how much information it has to sort through in so little time, our right brain does a phenomenal job of correctly associating present experiences with past events to help us formulate appropriate, proportionate, and productive responses to what is going on in the here and now. But sometimes the process goes a little haywire. For instance, what if something your wife says makes your right brain recall some hurtful thing your mother said when you were five? In that case, it will make perfect sense to you that the only logical response is to pout -- or even throw a tantrum. Of course, this response will seem completely insane to your wife, who would have no idea why you're acting that way. I hope you are excited about embarking on this journey toward greater metaphysical security! What makes it most exciting is that there is always room for improvement in building excellence. Much like striving to be a fine virtuoso, the sky is the limit! It therefore entails a lifelong commitment to working on becoming better and better. But not perfect! You will never be perfectly respectful, self-controlling, authentic, prudent, objective, empathetic, foresighted, or empowering. But with work, you can improve, more and more, and consequently experience less and less stress generated from an endless roller-coaster ride of musturbation.

Are you ready to make the commitment? If so, then you are ready to proceed to the chapters in this book that tackle your specific types of perfectionism. Which of these chapters should you read first? I suggest you begin with those that deal with the types of perfectionism for which you have the greatest proclivity. Go to your journal and check your responses - the tendency column for each of the types of perfectionism you listed. These tendencies are Almost always, Often, Sometimes. Start with the perfectionism type (or types) for which you recorded the greatest tendency. Worse, what if your memory bank is filled with unhealthy experiences of people treating you poorly through neglect or abuse? These experiences are not uncommon, but fortunately, they don't define the way most human beings normally treat each other. Even so, if those are the only experiences your right brain has to choose from when it looks for a guide to current events, you'll automatically assume -- on an unconscious, gut level -- that many people have more malicious intent than they actually do. For instance, a study by the University of Vermont published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships showed that children raised in households where moms and dads engaged in non-abusive but chronic arguing were more likely to assume a negative intention behind even the neutral actions of others. Their brains were primed to assume the worst about others, because when they encountered a new social situation, their right brains took them back to memories of people assuming the worst about each other. To understand where your particular brand of self-talk originates, it is helpful to ask the question, "What experiences taught me to feel that way?" To answer this question, you're not looking for that time on Wednesday, September 4, when your mom sat you down and said, "Now, honey, when someone doesn't return a text right away, that means they hate you and you've driven them out of your life. Got that, dear?" Resist the temptation to overthink this. Instead, sit with the feeling you are having and reflect on the thought going through your head. In our example, Karen's thought is, "I'm an annoying pest who drives away people I care about." As she reflects on this thought, she should allow whatever memories that may be associated with that thought to float up to the surface of her mind. These memories don't have to make sense. Often, our first reaction to these memories will be, "That couldn't have anything to do with this. Don't be silly." She should just sit with it, trust the process, and write down whatever memories come up, regardless of what they are. As our fictional client, Karen, does this exercise, perhaps she will be reminded of a time when she was bullied in grade school, or a time when her sister refused to play with her and called her a "pest," or her father was having a bad day and carelessly told he was too busy for her stupid games.

Of course, it could also be something more recent, but a good rule of thumb is that the deeper and stronger a particular reaction is felt, the earlier the memory that's associated with it. Regardless, one memory might come up, or several. Whatever emerges from your reflection will tell you, for better or worse, what your right brain is making of this present event. Janet and I incorporated several strategies to refuel her engine. They are included in the following list of twenty strategies I have put together for you based on my experience with hundreds of clients. Use whichever ones are helpful to reboot your wellness journey and get back on track. If one doesn't help, select another. They work, and you can do it. These demands are either impossible or nearly impossible to satisfy in this imperfect world. As such, achievement perfectionists tend to set themselves up for failure and then torment themselves for having failed to meet their self-imposed demands. This can be an incredibly stressful way to live. When your self-care engine is running low or there's no more gas, then acknowledge that this is a normal occurrence. It is healthy for you to recognize when you need a break. Think about it: even machines break down and require a reboot. I suggested she only ask him to do things that wouldn't have great consequence and not important things like paying the bills. She needed to be very clear about which things were going to directly affect her and which things would only affect him. If a problem was going to cause her harm, then she would need to continue to step in and be sure that it was done and done properly. This usually meant she was going to have to do it herself. However, if its not being done properly was only going to affect him, then she could let it go. For example, she no longer had to keep track of his golf dates and remind him when it was time for him to go.

This approach helped some. She was able to let go of a lot of things and no longer felt "I have to do everything!" and she wasn't so overloaded. Although she still resented having to do things that she felt he should have done, the important things did get done. But as I described, Penelope's problems weren't only with her husband. So she learned a new habit, starting with a rule. Whenever she was asked to do something or to give time or money, instead of automatically saying "Yes" she learned to always say "I'll have to think about it." Then she often was able to say "No" later. That's not entirely accurate; she never did become very good at saying "No". But she learned to say, "That won't work for me." She and I practiced that. I would ask her to do something and she would say, "That won't work for me." I would say "Why not?" and she would say, "That won't work for me." I would say, "Well, come on, it's not really that much to ask, and blah blah blah." Then she would repeat, "That won't work for me." She became good at that and her life improved quite a bit. Achievement perfectionists define their worth as human beings in terms of their achievements. When they accomplish the tasks by which they define their self-worth, they think themselves worthy. When they are not so achieving, they sink into a dogmatic denouncement of their worth (and therefore their dignity or self-respect), not just as workers or professionals but also as human beings. This type of self-regarding perfectionism is prevalent in very creative people. So you may be in good company! The bad news is that it can stifle the very creativity you seek to express. A telling example is the case of creative writers who experience writer's block. According to one study of thirty-three blocked writers, all of them exhibited depression and anxiety, including symptoms of self-doubt and perfectionism (Kaufman, 2009). Having defined their self-worth in term of the ability to write, these writers experienced strong self-doubts when they were unable to write. The more prolonged their inability, the more they sank into the hopelessness of depression. But maybe everything was cool when these creative folks were successfully producing good writing?