The power of positive thinking for perfectionists

How to be bad at being good
Click on the image above to see Buster Keaton demonstrate how to be bad at toxic masculinity

Recently I’ve been trying to define core values in my work. It’s been harder for me than I expected. I’m usually excellent at positive thinking, but when it comes to this issue it seems to backfire. I don’t have to be good at anything, I just need to be myself and honest. That’s a perfectionist’s nightmare!

I had to practice some of my own medicine. How can I accept that I’m just an ordinary perfectionist and work with it?

Research shows that positive thinking is healthy…but can morph into toxicity. I think that’s especially true for people like me. This is where getting in touch with your core values comes in. Sure, your glass may be half full, or half empty – but full of what? Is it something you want? Is it really necessary for you to be “the best” at it?

Every moment is new and different than the last one. If you forget to see and feel, you miss a lot. Everything is really happening for the first time, so how can you be good at it anyway?

It’s much more fun to be bad at things, and I can show you how! It’s also a great way to settle in closer to who you really are and what you really want.

Let’s experiment with the THOUGHT – BODY – EMOTION loop. You can start at any point on this loop, and as you move through it, notice how checking in with one “part” of your whole self affects the others.

Try this simple two-part process:


Below is a suggested thought to play with. You can fill in the blank with the listed words or add your own. Take your time with each word, savor it, let it settle. If you find a new good one, let me know!

Brain says to body…

“I don’t have to be good at _____________.”

Thinking a thought

Feeling my body

Feeling my emotions

Being well

Being sick

Being positive

Being masculine

Being feminine

Being non-binary

Being negative

Being positive

Being productive

Being lazy

You have a right to just….be. Now you might have a chance at getting quiet and finding out what your real values are.

Take as much time as you like with any of these! Breath. Maybe one of them was just what you needed today.

Now, reverse the loop:


What do your muscles, your organs, your skin, your bones, your heart, your lungs experience when you say these things? Mine soften and begin to move…and the EMOTIONS that arise, in all their variety, are much more likely to also move through me.

Sadness. Relief. Surprise. Even dismay is better than the frenzy of perfectionism.

This is the power of positive thinking – when you take the time to let your body give you feedback on whether it’s positive or not.

This flow between body, mind, and emotions is the sign of a good mind-body connection. Nothing is more joyful and creative than being truly yourself, in flow. It also helps you adapt more effectively to what’s actually going on in your life.

Us perfectionists are often so busy jumping in and trying to be good at things, we forget to feel our bodies and our feelings. We forget to look into the eyes of the person we are talking to or hear the tone and cadence of their voice.

If we did, like Buster Keaton, me might have a sneaking suspicion that we don’t actually want what others are striving for (though in the end, I think he does get “the girl”). We long for something new, something different. Masculinity is only toxic if it’s about having power over others. Maybe you have your own funky version of masculinity that is really cool!

If you are struggling with perfectionism and watching it play out in your body as stress and pain, maybe it’s time to try a different way. Start to experiment with what kind of thinking, moving, and being you want to stop doing, so you can start having more fun and more flow.

If you want some targeted interventions designed specifically for you and your body, a course of private lessons might be great!

Or, perhaps you’d like to join my next 4 – week Boundary Explorers Course! Learn how to say no to what you don’t want, and yes to what you do want, like getting to the next creative project that will take your work to the next level. All in the company of supportive people who are practicing embodiment skills imperfectly and having a lot of fun.

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