Joe has a recurring complaint.
From the moment he wakes up to the moment before he lies down to sleep, he is handcuffed to his to-do list.
He opens his eyes and immediately runs through what he must accomplish during the day, images rushing past his inner eye and by the time he gets up his stomach is in a knot.
He begins work, body cramped and tired until he’s done.
At night, he opens the fridge and doesn’t stop until he goes to bed.
Edith isn’t happy until her kitchen counters and sink have been bleached and the faucets dry and polished. That’s after she’s dusted the furniture and swept her floors.
All day, she sips on coffee and tea biscuits.
Angie double-checks everything her assistant does, even though there is never a good reason to doubt the work. This makes Angie late for dinner and means she doesn’t sit with her family.
Later, she’ll skip the meal, peer into her teen’s room for a brief hello, watch TV with her husband and have two desserts.
Perfectionism and the Unconscious
The people in the above-scenarios will tell you that they are just perfectionists. They have high expectations of themselves and others.
They like things done, and done well. They say it proudly, as if this is a virtue.
In fact, the need to get things done and done to impossible standards often comes unconsciously, as a compulsion or drive that is not even recognized.
Perfectionism comes from a variety of sources.
At one level, the internalized inner archetypal negative mother and negative father, whose expectations are sometimes fierce, may drive your bus.
It’s important to understand these as archetypes, not the actual childhood caregivers, though they too had an impact, of course.
They are archetypes because they are generations of mothers, fathers, bosses, clergy, educators, authority figures through the ages.
The Jungian definition of archetype is “a primitive mental image inherited from the earliest human ancestors, and present in the collective unconscious.”
Unconscious means, simply – not conscious.
However, what is unconscious in you needs to be made conscious, or you will be feeling and doing things that may not serve you and that are not really you.
You may be on autopilot from accumulated messaging that early on you were powerless to question. This is true for all of us.
The expectations of those collective generations and the culture you are part of influence what you expect of yourself.
For emotional eaters and those dealing with body-food issues, perfectionism might have been born out of pleasing caregivers and trying to be the best at whatever was expected of you.
If you try to please someone else, you don’t find your own values.
And when you become an adult and try to live them, the archetypal Saboteur, Inner Critic, Negative Mother or Negative Father might easily confront you with “You’re not enough” or “Who do you think you are?” and may beat you down.
Understanding this unconscious material will empower you because now you will be able to choose what you think, believe, and listen to.
At another level, in a world that has been dominated for centuries by the patriarchy, it is also what influences and drives us too.
Patriarchy doesn’t have anything to do with the Masculine Principle or Masculine Energy, which is pure creative energy.
Patriarchy is the power principle that controls and dominates. If you work for an organization or institution and watch governments, you are quite familiar with this energy.
Women are as trapped as men are in it, and it has done damage to both. Sometimes women can be even fiercer patriarchs than men.
At the heart of patriarchy is achievement for the sake of getting – getting somewhere, getting things, getting ahead.
Patriarchy worships reason, thinking, control, power and the intellect above all else.
It is a driven energy that doesn’t acknowledge that the body is tired or even pays attention to the body.
It is a driving energy that pushes relationship, intimacy and connectedness to the background if it gives it any space at all.
On autopilot, with little attention to the body and soul’s needs, the woman or man ploughs ahead with an idea about how life “should be” that is like fire in the brain.
The Feminine Principle
The Feminine Principle or Feminine Energy is known as heart, soul, earth, water, process, paradox, patience, presence, love, intuition, relationship, intimacy and connectedness.
Soften, deepen and expand. Invite, allow and receive. Feminine energy in words.
It is the body and the heart.
When we say that the Feminine is missing, we’re talking about heart energy.
When we run around with no time to sit still or appreciate the meal that someone has prepared, presence and the heart are absent.
The Feminine is always questioning, “Who am I?” in order to find out who is really there, and how do you then live out of integrity from this place, once you know who you are?
Did you know that the body is a Feminine principle? Yes!
How Is This Connected to Emotional Eating and Body-Food Issues?
The body, Feminine Principle, acts out what is unconscious.
When you feel upset and get triggered into your body-food behaviours, you can bet that the unconscious is trying to get your attention.
It will continue to act out until you are able to admit to yourself what’s bothering you. When you do, you will be able to choose to deal with the issue directly.
That’s what you want to avoid and yet, it’s the way to liberation.
So, if Joe wants freedom, he will need to find another way of living that allows him to breathe and not work on his lists all day long. His body speaks to him and yearns for spaciousness.
If Edith wants to stop eating cookies all day, she will need to find out where her drive to clean comes from, and then ask herself what she wants to do differently and what would have meaning in her life.
If Angie wants a relationship with her family, she will need to see what she is doing, and take different actions.
If you want freedom too, and want to get to it now, connect with me here. It takes work to distinguish your authentic self from the one you’ve learned to be.
You can look at your unconscious, driven behaviours, and ask yourself, “What do I really, really want?”
So begins the journey to freedom.
Over To You
Where does perfectionism show up for you?
Where do you notice the patriarchy in your world?
What aspects of the Feminine Principle do you long for most?
Write and share your answers with us.
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Copyright © 2014 Miriam Linderman