The perfection trap

Did you know that your mind is a machine and that it runs on programs that you learned at a very young age?

When we're little, we lack the logic skills to understand why mommy is sad, or daddy is frustrated, but we know when we feel unsafe. Depending on your family dynamic, you learned different strategies to ensure your safety.

One of the most foundational tenets of evolutionary psychology is that safety and belonging were essential to human survival. Tens of thousands of years ago, the worst punishment a tribe could bestow was banishment — humans were not meant to live solo. Our brains are wired for belonging, and (whether we admit it or not), we'll do whatever it takes to stay “in” with our tribe. 

So imagine a little kid growing up in a family in which there is an emphasis on achievement, and “getting it right.” Perhaps that child's dad gets upset or annoyed whenever he makes a mistake, or perhaps his mom is always cautioning him not to get himself dirty… over time, the child may develop a “strategy” (or “program”) to keep his parents (upon whom his survival depends) happy. That child might decide, quite unconsciously, that he needs to be “perfect” to belong (aka: survive) and be loved. Never mind that his parents never intended to send such a message. So the kid gets good grades, is a good boy, and for years receives external reinforcement that his “be perfect” strategy is a good one, which becomes intrinsic reinforcement. He creates the “story” that as long as he's perfect, everything is great. That is, until the years go by (or decades) and the pressure of being perfect starts to weigh down on him, leaving him utterly exhausted, depleted, and miserable.

If this is sounding familiar perhaps you're wondering, how do I rewrite my programming?” 

All things in good time 😉 First things first! We need to understand the four most common programs that we install at a young age. I’m going to dive into two of them in my next email.


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