{November 17, 2011}   Beating Perfectionism & Real Self-Help

I’ve struggled with perfectionism for a very, very long time. It’s stopped me from doing work, it’s stopped me being proud of my creations, and under the guise of regular old shyness it’s stopped me from having a fulfilled and honest social life. But now, the fight is over! I went to a café and thought it through, and within 20 minutes I came up with a revelation that has essentially cured me forever.


It’s like Sherlock Holmes having a long, drawn-out fist fight with Moriarty, then finding out that he actually has a gun on him.


Moriarty: This is how it’s meant to be, Holmes! You and I, forever fighting, never winning –

Holmes: – Oh hang on… yes, I’ve got a gun!

Mortiarty: …Wha?


Holmes: …Time for tea Watson?


Of course that’s never the final scene, even if he is really dead. My perfectionism is going to keep crawling back to me like some legless, zombified Moriarty, so I’m going to need to keep a metaphorical spade handy to scoop him up and flip him away every now and then.



Now the technique itself is a bit… big, so I’m going to need to do an introduction – if you’re truly interested, stick with me. If there’s enough interest I’ll explain this all in better detail in another blog. It’s a system that I’ve invented myself. This may seem a little bizarre  for readers who don’t have a background in self-help, new-age thinking or old memory techniques (loci & memory palaces – Matteo Ricci), but here goes:

Essentially what you do is you create an imaginary world. The world you imagine represents your mind, and the characters that live in that world represent parts of your personality. Once you’ve built this world, you can then change it, and as a result, change the way you are. Mostly, it’s fantastic as a tool for self-knowledge, e.g. you can discover aspects of yourself that you didn’t know you had. But you can also use it to change your behaviour and your responses to the world around you.

Back in school, I used to get panic attacks. They started to get so bad that I couldn’t go into school without having one, and I was afraid of going to classes. So with all that in mind I spent some time daydreaming in my imaginary world. I found a new character called Panik in the underground area, so I created a gate and let her out to the surface. Instead of that cramped, dark space she had before, she now had an enormous plane of land to run around in, so she finally calmed down and wore herself out. I found that whenever I was having a panic attack, if I went through this visual ritual, it would slowly stop, and I could get on with life. When she was panicked & running, Panik was a monster – a frenzied, humanoid mass of black fur and smoke, running like a cat on steroids, with round, glowing yellow eyes, but when she wore herself out, it all went away… She looked just like me. The amazing amount of symbolism involved, and the fact that the solution comes entirely from you, not some self-help book by someone who’s never met you, means that the effect of these daydreams are really powerful and long-lasting.


Now, how I solved the perfectionist problem:

I wasn’t actually trying to be honest. That’s how powerful and strange this thing is. I was thinking about the imaginary world, and the fact that mine is barren, with cracked orange earth. I thought it must be because it’s a battlefield – because of my long-term inner fighting… it could only be perfectionism. It made perfect sense – stop fighting with yourself and the world will become fertile & green (meaning my mind will become productive). So I had to think, what was I fighting? One character jumped to mind. This is a character in my world that I have frankly at times been afraid of. I noticed him one day and got the sense that he’d been there much longer than I knew. Many uneventful daydreams in that world have been hijacked by him, and though he has never done anything to hurt me and only seems to want to be near me and as much a part of my world as the other characters, I felt, very strongly that he can’t be near me. I denied his existence. But that day I realised what he really was. He wasn’t an aspect of my personality – he was the respect, love, admiration, affection and so on that I want & sometimes get from others. Someone older who (despite the age gap) sees me as an equal, resembling someone I admire, attractive and powerful, and choosing me to be with. And I was denying that he should even exist. And just like the real world, I didn’t know why, only that it felt wrong to have any attention of those kinds.



So I accepted him. He’s not some scary undesirable figure – he’s a fuel for self-esteem, and now that he belongs in my world, I can finally be happy with what I do. I can’t tell you how much happier I am now that I believe in myself and the kind words of others. Aw, what a cheesy, namby-pamby ending. How about I teach you a Finnish swear word? Say, “Vee-too”. That’s a lady-part (don’t know which, guessing VAGINA), but they use it the way we use ‘Fuck’.



P.S. No blog tomorrow because it’s my BIRTHDAY!



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