“It’s either Perfection or Failure”

Lavender from the allotment at work

Here’s my latest video, which I’ll go into a bit more underneath: https://choosetransformation.files.wordpress.com/2019/04/vid_20190423_163005.mp4

I usually look forward to the consistency of my working day routine and the general predictability of the day’s activities, but lately it’s felt like more of a task. Yesterday at work, I felt the familiar fluttering of panic rising, that feeling of dread and the urge to run for the hills. I requested Supervision with my Manager.

My Manager is also a Mental health Nurse, but has studied solution- focused therapy and so, her approach to supervision is to guide me to find the answers for myself. And she’s very good at it too.

Her observation was this: Your work is excellent, but I don’t think you fully believe me when I say that.”

She then said the following:

Tell me what you’re good at

How do you know that you’ve done some good work?

How do you reward yourself for doing good work?

What do you need, in order to keep doing good work?

Now, some are easier to answer than others. I think my strengths are my diligence, my administration skills and building a rapport with my patients. I think I work well within a team and autonomously. I know that I’ve done good work, because I get feedback from my patients and my colleagues. I feel good about the standard of my work and sometimes, I can see how the work is benefiting the patient, e.g. A calming strategy effectively decreasing Anxiety levels whilst in a group.

How do I reward myself? Hm. Now that’s a new concept to me. I guess I keep doing good work?

What do I need, to keep doing good work? I said, “The support and advice of my colleagues and the opportunity for Supervision”, but I felt like saying, “You know I’ll always do good work.” What I actually came out with, even to my own surprise, was: “Do you know what? I’m really tired. I’m tired of the commute, it’s getting too much for me. I dreaded coming here today and since I arrived, all I’ve wanted to do was leave again. I think I need some time…” And then I cried and felt angry with myself.

She said, “It’s important that you know, that it doesn’t mean you’re failing.” Basically, she was reading me like a fucking book.

I didn’t expect myself to react that way, to that question. I felt like I was holding it together just enough, like I always do, but she had pressed a very specific set of buttons. And it’s always that ‘F’ word the gets me; failure. I’d rather be called any derogatory, offensive name than labelled as that. I do understand why, thanks to some Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, but clearly I still have a long way to go!

We talked for another hour after that and once I had finished blubbering and blowing snot bubbles at her, I carried on with my work as if nothing had happened, as I do.

I decided to take my break in the Allotment up by the woods, which was exactly what I needed. A sensory session of grounding and mindfulness. As you’ll see in the video, I picked some Lavender, which filled my nose with that lovely distinctive smell. There was a lovely cool breeze, which gave me goosebumps, but I was comfortable. It shook the dry red and orange leaves of the trees, making a rustling sound. The colours looking almost autumnal amongst the new spring time shrubs. There were birds singing all around me; noticeably a wood pecker to my left. The occasional honk of a Canadian Goose, warning off a lairy Moorhen made me smile. I could hear twigs snapping in the woods behind me- probably the elusive bloomin’ 3 legged deer, mocking me! Then, the distant whir of the motorway and over top, the faint trickling of the fountain in the pond. The bench I was sat on was made of smooth wood, which I rubbed with my left hand. In my right, I rubbed the Lavender leaves between my thumb and third finger, as the smell was stronger once it was on my fingers. I took my sandals off at one point so I could feel the cold slabs underfoot. The only thing I was missing was something for my taste buds, but actually, I didn’t need it.

I’ve reflected about this situation loads since then. I wasn’t upset by what I’d said, but how it had made me feel; like I was admitting defeat. Failing. And my manager knew that; probably from looking at my work, knowing my work ethic and recognising the need for perfectionism in me. I don’t reward myself for doing good work, but that is something I will give some thought to. Having a reward system totally makes sense! And as my manager said to me; “You’re like a Bank. You can only take out, what you put in.” My Manager and I are now in the process of reviewing my work rota and responsibilities, to see if we can ease some of the pressure I’m feeling currently (I do recognise how lucky I am to have such an understanding Manager).

It’s Self- care and Mindfulness that give me the reserves to harvest, to be able to keep doing good work. And I recognise that part of that self-care needs to be, A. Asking for support and letting someone know how I’m feeling and B. Not being so damn hard on myself.

Maybe this would be useful for you to think about?

What are you good at?

How do you know that you’ve done some good work?

How do you reward yourself for doing good work?

What do you need, in order to keep doing good work?

9 thoughts on ““It’s either Perfection or Failure”

  1. It’s been a few years since I stopped going through work problems. Your exhibition would have helped me in those moments. Today, conflicts with oneself at work have changed. Your resolution to tackle your problem, I think it is the most appropriate for your personality. I enjoy reading because you see a new work world where young people are more involved in their relationship with the staff. I hope your decision is correct.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, yes I think so too- would rather face it head on if I can. I am fortunate that I feel I can approach my manager. Is what you’d hope for a mental health setting! I hope your work issues got sorted?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. That’s an honest blog. I think you’re blessed with good management. You might be in the right job to get that! As a mental health nurse what would you expect your patient to do if they were you?

    The underlying pursuit of perfection must be tiring. I’m my work there is no time for ideals of perfection. I take a step towards it with good enough each day, which moves everybody forward.
    Would you try to get to the underlying cause with your patient for their perfectionism?
    Ps awesome honest blog.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your message!
      You would expect a certain level of compassion given the industry, wouldn’t you! But I know it doesn’t happen everywhere.
      It is exhausting because really, perfection is rarely obtainable and not sustainable. I really admire that message you’re sending- it’s really healthy to have a role model to lead by example and reinforce that you are good enough, particularly at work.
      As you may suspect, the hypocrisy of my world only adds to my discontent! I request things of my patients that I struggle to practice myself. I don’t go into personal details with patients, obviously, but I am able to empathise better because of my own difficulties. I might explore perfectionism with my patients to a degree; mostly how to challenge it and coping strategies to manage how it impacts life. A cognitive behavioural therapist would be best placed to really explore the psychology of it though, as often deeply rooted. It did help me tremendously, but clearly I have a long way to go!
      Thank you again!

      Liked by 1 person

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