Four ‘trick or treaters’ knocked on our door last Halloween. Somewhat unprepared to experience this novelty in Australia I managed to locate a few sweet treats for each of them, and they left happily bubbling with excitement.
Was I deceived by their costumes or weird masks? Of course not. And I’m sure they didn’t believe for a moment that they’d suddenly morphed into ugly or wicked creatures, either.
Sometimes, we put on a mask as we strive to feel accepted and loved. And over time we may come to accept the charade as part of ourselves.
For instance, we may act out the role where we have to be the best … at everything. We can’t abide mistakes and feel it’s a badge of honour to be a perfectionist. Ever in fear of failing, we’re probably chronic procrastinators. We don’t like ourselves very much either, because we rarely live up to our own expectations.
Many psychologists believe that perfectionism is a reflection of an inner self mired in anxiety about not being good enough and constantly feeling like an impostor.
Whatever the reason may be for that belief, at the heart of the often life-long anxiety to appear perfect is our acceptance of the general belief that the human mind is full of good and bad emotions and beliefs, some of which are detrimental to health.
However, what’s gaining wider acceptance in health research today is the degree to which the body is the servant of the mind.
Sometimes a simple shift in thought enables us to take off the impostor’s mask we may have been wearing and lift the mental weight.
Accepting a less human mind for a diviner nature that is more attuned to understanding, compassion and humility, brings with it greater confidence, better relationships and a selfless desire to contribute to the greater good.
It’s the daily diet of serene, spiritual thoughts that transforms our experience, gives us grace for each day and best feeds our famished affections, Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science, explains in a very practical elucidation of the Lord’s Prayer.
Common treatments for perfectionism are also moving to thought-based approaches such as acceptance and commitment therapy, meditation and mindfulness, even in the treatment of serious eating disorders like anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa.
Reports estimate that 15% of Australian women between 12 and 30 years of age suffer from eating disorders at some stage in their lives. These young people are crying out for love, acceptance and a better view of themselves.
Julie Bell reached the point where hospitalisation for malnutrition seemed the only answer when the application of a distinctive thought-based, prayer-based approach, founded on recognition of her flawless, spiritual nature as God’s perfect child, proved “a glorious turning point”.
This shift in thought enabled her to take control of her own thinking to see that her body was the servant and that food did not have power to govern her life.
Not only healed of the eating disorder, she found that other obsessive habits that she hadn’t realised were abnormal completely fell away, as did her fear of going forward in the world.
If you’re tiring of the relentless obsessive or perfectionistic thinking about your body or lack of success, you too may be ready to focus less attention on what you eat or on your limited achievements and more on thinking outside the sensory box. Instead, pondering ideas that tenderly reassure you of your intrinsic value.
The mask of a limited, biophysical viewpoint can be frightening, but its removal will enable you to replace a daily diet of fear and anxiety with a moment-by-moment health-giving intake of love and respect for your perfect, beautiful, spiritual self. The difference will be remarkable.
This article was published in Kidz on the Coast Magazine, October/November 2016 (p.17).