Thursday, 13 October 2011

An insight.

So, yesterday I read a bit of an Oprah magazine and they had an article about the lines between feeling a bit run down and tired and burned out...

I found the article spoke pretty clearly to me and helped me draw some connections between things I'd been thinking were not necessarily related... and I wasn't totally surprised... this is te tau okioki after all... I'm doing this partly because I'm tired and need to recharge before getting back to things... sure, I am writing, but for me that is a form of recharging too...

So, I decided (for the first time in my life ever!) to follow up on the book which the Oprah article referred to... and I found it at the public library... so yesterday early evening I went to the library and got it out, and I have read the first couple of chapters today while eating breakfast and dinner etc...

I have to say, it's a great book. I'm finding it was actually written with me in mind! Actually, I ended up lying down on my couch (my couch here is v comfy, esp now I've got lovely big cushions and a nice warm blanket on it) reading the book... and, yes, I fell asleep. An hour later I woke up, and giggled when I realised that when I'd fallen asleep the book just kind of fell on top of me and it had waited there while I slumbered, the book called Tired of being tired. Hahaha yes it's really true!

So, one of the chapters is about how people end up wearing themselves out a bit, and it suggests that for lots of people this comes from perfectionism. Yes, perfectionism. Something I have sworn is not a problem I have ever faced... despite good friends (Michelle T comes to mind immediately!) trying to convince me otherwise. So, I start reading the list of the traits of a perfectionist and if you've got more than three of the dozen or so traits then you probably are a bit of a perfectionist and... you guessed it, I identified with, well, shall we say 'a number higher than three' of them! Hmm. What a shock!

Hi, my name is Alice and I'm a perfectionist.

The thing that surprised me was that I'd always thought perfectionists were people who are very detail oriented and particular and organised and who kind of achieve perfection, rather than people who are messier and set themselves too much to do each day and worry that they don't get through everything they're committed to and keep agreeing to do more and more despite not having the time for it and beat themselves up that their work (or cooking or whatever) isn't as good as it could be...

I realised (and this link is what made it all suddenly make sense to me) that perfectionism is like every other -ism: racism, for example, is not a performance of race but is an attitude to race which depends on its own production of race as a knowable category in the first place. So, perfectionism is more about an attitude to one's own imperfect-ness rather than about attainment of perfect-ness and further, perfectionism relies on a notion of 'perfection' which doesn't even exist in any natural or fixed way anyway. Wow. This was actually quite an amazing insight for me. Not because it gave me a diagnosis or label, but because now I can find strategies and ideas that other people have already put forward about perfectionism.

One of the first ones, according to the book, is to sleep more and don't stay up all the crazy hours of the night trying to catch up on the things you thought you'd get done that day. So, on that note, I'm off to bed - and leaving a pile of washing, papers, post-it notes, printouts, books and to-do lists behind me.

That, my dear readers, is something of an achievement. To coin and update and gender-neutralise a phrase: one small step for me, one giant leap for me too.

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