There is a long line of control freaks and perfectionists in my family. As a product of my history’s conditioning and socialization, I, too was a control-freak perfectionist. Notice, I said was. Let me explain: I define myself as a recovering control-freak perfectionist. For years, I struggled with trying to control every aspect of my life with the intent on making things perfect. My home had to be spotless, with everything in its place, and a place for all things. I wanted to control what people said and did—for their own sake of course. Every decision made regarding anything I claimed as mine or impacting me, I had to be involved with to make sure nothing was overlooked or went wrong. If a task or action was not completed expeditiously (per an acceptable time frame I conjured up) I immediately took it over because only I understood the importance of getting the task completed immediately. I was proactive and insisted on doing this right (e.g., my way). I was driving myself crazy—and dragging my friends, husband and sons along for the ride.
I was making the same mistake that I saw my mother, grandmother and a host of women and their mothers before them make. Heck, I fell into the trap that many other women around the world fall in. I was trying to control life> I thought I was exhibiting characteristics of the perfect woman—the ideal mother, wife, employee, student (you get the picture). After all, women are supposed to do it all, be all, know it all, and have it all, right? I was so WRONG! In my late 30’s, after having a panic attack because I could no longer keep up this perfect, every woman image, I decided that I was no longer going to give one solitary F@$k about things I could not control or that was not important in the long-run. F@$k if the house was a mess. F@$k what people thought about me. F@$k if I made a mistake--or if others made a mistake. Life wasn't perfect, so why should I be?
I freed myself from this delusion and I felt more relaxed an in-tune with myself and my purpose than I ever had. I finally allowed myself to be out of control. So, I am recovered. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have tendencies to control life events, but I catch myself and can redirect my thoughts and behaviors. Here is what I decided to do, to be set free:
I decided that life could not be controlled
I choose to stop wasting my time on the small stuff
I decided that life was imperfect—and I accepted these imperfections
I accepted that I was imperfect and that was perfectly ok
I accepted that my control-freakery and perfectionism was a product of learned behavior and therefore I can unlearn this behavior
I focused on how I wanted to respond to life when disappointment, loss, sorrow, or any painful experiences occurred
I realized that no matter what goes wrong, nothing is permanent, there is probably a fix, or the problem will eventually resolve itself
No matter how horrible the mistake, I am still lovable--warts and all, and to show myself compassion and forgiveness
I accepted that people-are-people and we are naturally flawed---and that’s OK
If anyone had a problem with me, it’s not my issue, it is theirs—so let them handle it
I learned to let go and move on from the past, and stop worrying about the uncertainties of the future
I began to meditate and learned to be in and work with the present moment
This journey has been (and continues to be) a process. I did not recover from my control-freakery and perfectionism overnight. So, it was vital for me to be patient with myself as I tried to overcome these learned habits. I am before you an authentic woman, flawed, imperfect, with an often-messy home, who makes tons of mistakes to learn and grow from. A woman who don’t give a flying F@$k about the uncertainties of the future, or the stuff that happened in the past. I give even less of a care about what people think. I love this version of me. She is happy, less-stressed, and has more time to focus on things that matter—like loving my family, being available to my friends, and helping other women become authentically themselves. This lady right here, she is out of control!
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Dawn C. Reid is the CCO and owner of Reid Ready Life Coaching (RRLC). She holds a master’s degree in psychology, and is currently working on her doctoral dissertation research (Ph.D, ABD). She is an author and speaker.