Two weeks ago I was invited to talk about perfectionism on the Chrissy B Show on Sky TV. At first I was flattered, then I was excited, then I started to get scared. I said yes, because it’s a topic close to my heart, made plans, then seriously wished I hadn’t.
As my inner gremlins set about me I began to feel worse and worse. I couldn’t relax, I couldn’t work, I couldn’t concentrate on the children. I was in meltdown. Completely overwhelmed by stressful emotions, it certainly was a weird few days. I thought I knew what was happening: I was just scared about doing something new, about being vulnerable and ‘out there’ with the potential to look foolish or rubbish in front of other people. I endlessly rationalised: it will be ok, and if it isn’t that’s ok too. I’ll learn from it and I’ll still be loved by those who are important to me. I told myself that it would be fun to see a working TV studio, great to meet new people and a change from my normal life. I knew all this so why did I still feel so bad? I ‘should’ be able to deal with this.
At other times I tried to convince myself to cancel, but my pride wouldn’t let me and I knew that in the long run it was a positive thing to do. But I found it difficult to justify much of the time. I’m all for pushing my boundaries, but to feel sick with nerves for a week felt like too much of a price to pay. Too much for my children to pay as well, since it was their mother who was away with the fairies one minute and snapping at them the next.
Gradually it became clear to me that the reason I was so scared and worried was because the situation was something I was not in control of, and because of that, I couldn’t guarantee that it would run smoothly. These – I suddenly realised – are my two big perfectionist ideals. I was also ‘shoulding’ myself too much: ‘I should be able to deal with this.’ I ‘shouldn’t let this affect my family.’ Being aware of why I was feeling so bad, made me feel a lot better. Understanding yourself really does go a long way to improving the situation.
Last Monday I got the train to London and appeared on the show. And, actually, it was fun, and I really enjoyed myself. The presenter, producer and other guests were lovely, friendly and interesting people. I wasn’t half as nervous on the day, perhaps because I was living it rather than thinking and planning for it in advance.
So what’s the lesson here? Mainly that feeling bad is not all bad, because if we allow them to, negative emotions can teach us so much. It also strengthened my belief that my family is the most important thing to me. Being successful professionally is very important to me, but will never take priority over looking after my young family.
On the way home, I was proud of myself for getting out there and giving it a go. It didn’t go horribly wrong. And at the end of the day, I’m still the same person, still worth the same as every other human being on the planet. I had just been lucky enough to add another new experience to that journey called life.
If you are interested in watching the programme here it is.