Perfectionism: A Hidden Cause of Back Pain

Could your need to appear perfect be causing you physical pain? The emotional qualities associated with perfectionism include guilt, stress, feelings of inadequacy, self-judgment and other low vibration words we associate with negative states of mind. You may not consider yourself a perfectionist but you may have perfectionist tendencies. Chances are if you were raised in this day and age, you have been conditioned to feel like you have to keep up with everyone around and compete. You have to appear strong, you have to be busy and productive right? We need to evaluate how societal pressures are affecting us physically. When we want to appear strong, we avoid showing emotions and store them in our cellular memory, our emotional databank. These emotions release energy that must be expressed in someway. If we do not release that energy in healthy ways or deal with those emotions, they will have to find a pathway out. This is what happened to me. I was the a top performing athlete, had straight A’s, was involved in student government, volunteer groups, honors art classes, and had so much pressure to perform well, I became handicap by pain. I did not quite understand the Type-A personality or emotional intelligence until I absolutely had to. It was the only way I could heal. I was a peaceful and positive person, always there to console others and always in a good mood.

What I found out was shocking but empowering. What I found out, I wish everyone knew. What I found out cured me of the hell I had been living in and gave me my life back. If you’re reading this and saying, that’s me, I am very happy. You have a way out. So did the thousands of others that found out about what Dr. John E. Sarno labeled ‘Tension Mitosis Syndrome.’ Today more than ever, we are constantly pressured to be better than our coworkers, our classmates, our neighbors, and even other businesses. We are expected to be strong and told emotions are girly weaknesses. How much of that is just a story that we can rewrite? All of it. It is truly remarkable how once we recognize these characteristics in ourselves and realize that the brain subconsciously translates our repressed anger, fear, and anxiety into physical pain, the pain immediately dissipates.

A world renowned author and spiritual teacher Don Miguel Ruiz, a descendant of the Toltec people in Mexico has some very interesting theories about how the group dream affects us and keeps us living in a state that we are plagued by our emotions in a very physical way. He teaches us to look at our life as if an outsider and analyze our emotions and know that they are not us. His book called, ‘The Four Agreements’ was a catapult to my own well being and have seen so many people’s lives and perspective change after reading his book. Once we begin to have control of our thoughts and emotions and take inventory of them, we begin to develop emotional intelligence.

Many people, including myself, are very hard on themselves. Instead of focusing on what they accomplish in a day, they will beat themselves up about what they did not accomplish. This is what my friends and I refer to as ‘should’ves.’ My friend often says, “I just should’ved all over myself.” She knows that the obligations that we place on ourselves stemming from societal/environmental pressures do not help our stress levels or our physical well being. They put strain on our mental and physical well being. The more we are able to focus on our strengths, celebrate our accomplishments, and accept our learning experiences, the more we free our bodies of anguish created by suppressed emotions. Men have an even bigger mountain to climb because we live in a society where they feel expressing emotions is socially unacceptable. They are storing those emotions in their necks, backs, hips, shoulders and it isn’t helping any of us. We have to be more accepting of how we are feeling without feeling like we have to be the hero all the time. We can do our best without working ourselves to utter exhaustion. We can speak up when we disagree, feel undermined, or disrespected. We can admit we are feeling sad or vulnerable. We can be human and we can heal.

If you have read this article and are wondering if there is any truth to my story, I urge you to read ‘Healing Back Pain: The Mind Body Connection.’ I had chronic pain for two and a half years. I was a perfectionist. After reading this book and recognizing my own personality traits were the cause of my pain, I was able to apply the techniques in the book and completely heal in just two weeks. I have never experienced back pain since. Speaking as a fellow perfectionist, perfection is an illusion and a limitation. Do not let perfectionism ruin your life. Oh and once you find healing, pass it on.

Shannon Yrizarry

Shannon Yrizarry is a health and wellness professional who was healed from chronic back pain in 2003 after studying the mind-body connection. She went on to study the physical and mental benefits of yoga and now teaches classes and workshops in Southern California. She has also worked as an organic health consultant and writes about how to eat a clean whole foods diet incorporating gluten-free, raw, and dairy free options.