Taming Guilt and Perfectionism: Heart Intelligence is the Answer!
I’ve written blogs encouraging women to give up perfectionism and let go of guilt. In response, I always receive lots of “how” questions. “I want to give up guilt, but how do I do it?” Letting go of guilt and perfectionism begins with wanting something different for yourself.
Your desire for something different begins your journey, because make no mistake, this is a journey. There’s no technique that will magically erase these feelings. That’s OK, because inside of you is something far more powerful than any technique, and that is your heart intelligence.
Where does guilt and the need to be perfect come from anyway? You’re not born with these crippling emotions and needs. You learn them. You learn that it’s not OK to disappoint people, that being loved depends on what you do not who you are and that it’s easier to just do what others want you to.
You’ve had hundreds if not thousands of experiences that reinforced these lessons until they were solidly anchored in your body. In science they call it, “the body-mind.” All of your beliefs, lessons and life strategies you learned when growing up are hardwired into your body-mind ready to inform you on what to think, how to feel and what to do in any given moment.
These thoughts and feelings seem to rise up faster than you can stop them and your brain believes they’re true. That awful feeling of being stuck is you fighting with you, it just seems like it’s you and the other person.
As a very little girl I learned to agree with my mother’s opinion. Why? When I agreed with her, she smiled warmly at me and I felt loved. When I didn’t agree with her – when I had my own opinion, she frowned and turned away. Sometimes she’d be critical and say, “You always have to disagree.” I hated those moments and I learned to avoid them.
Even though I’m an adult woman, my “body-mind” remembers those lessons. What happens today if I want to express my own opinion and disagree? My body-mind sends a stress signal to stop me from speaking. There’s no threat, but it sure feels like there is. In that moment it seems that the “easiest” response is to silence myself and agree. The stress feeling then goes away. The more I obey the body-mind, the stronger it becomes. There is something far more powerful than any program in your body-mind, and that is Heart Intelligence.
Heart Intelligence is real. You have a brain in your heart and there’s a whole field of science that studies the brain in the heart. It’s called neurocardiology. You don’t need to understand the science to be able to access Heart Intelligence. I can show you how. I’ve been teaching workshops and coaching people for over 20 years helping them access their Heart Intelligence.
Learning how to access Heart Intelligence is easy. You were born knowing how to do it. It only takes a few minutes. It begins with learning how to put your body in a state called, “psychological coherence.” At the end of this blog is a link that will take you to a short podcast where I show you how to get coherent. Right now, let’s learn why coherence is the key to accessing your Heart Intelligence.
Your body is one system or structure that is made up of many parts. You want all the different parts to work together harmoniously, communicating effectively to facilitate the highest good for you. When you strive for perfectionism or you’re drowning in guilt, your body system and all its parts become fragmented and incoherent. They stop communicating with each other and they operate from different agendas. This is why you feel so bad, it’s physiological.
When you experience powerful feelings like guilt or anxiety your body-mind sends stress signals to your brain asking for “help.” Your brain floods your body with over 1,400 chemicals that alter your physiology, shutting down digestion, inhibiting the prefrontal cortex (the part of your brain that helps you think clearly) and shifts you into a hyper-vigilant and defensive state of mind. It’s virtually impossible to get clarity and relief from guilt in this state because stress amplifies your stressful emotions.
To handle predictable body-mind states such as guilt, you must shift your physiology out of stress and into coherence. Coherence helps to activate your heart intelligence.
Physiological coherence is a state of inner harmony. All the individual parts of you are in-sync, communicating and working effectively together. You experience a profound feeling of well-being, a warmth and ease emanating from your heart area. When you’re in a state of coherence your brain and heart are working together, your thinking is clear and you are able to access perspectives and points of view that are unavailable to you when you’re experiencing feelings like guilt, anxiety, overwhelm or the need to be perfect.
It gets even better. Physiological coherence neutralizes the body-mind patterns and programs. Your body-mind patterns don’t go away, it’s more like the volume is turned way down, freeing you up to consider other options. Here’s where your Heart Intelligence comes in. The most important step in “getting coherent” is accessing and activating a heart feeling, such as, love, care, appreciation or compassion.
Activating a heart feeling is the key that opens the door to your higher Heart Intelligence. Heart Intelligence gives you a choice, a new path to follow. The more you follow your heart the stronger your heart path becomes. With practice, you learn to listen to your heart instead of your body-mind programs.
In the beginning when I wanted to voice my opinion it felt like a five alarm fire going off inside me. I practiced getting coherent each time. Today if I get a flicker of the old stress response, I just go to my heart and get coherent. I am able to speak up without feeling anxious. With practice it does becomes easier and easier.
Getting free of guilt and perfectionism is a journey that begins with your commitment to yourself. You have to really want it. When these emotions surface, you can let them run your system, exhausting and depleting you; or you can go to your heart. It’s always your choice. If you go to your heart at least 60% of the time (after all, you aren’t aiming to do this perfectly!) you will get free. It’s a journey of many choices and many steps all beginning and ending with your heart.
Every time you go to your heart, celebrate yourself! When your body-mind runs the show, you can still go to your heart by finding a feeling of compassion for yourself. No matter what choice you make, your next choice can always be to go to your heart.
Many “heart choices” over time lead to a life full of fun and adventure. You get to choose!