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The Dark Side of Self-Development

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What I wish I had learned sooner.

Up until high school, I was “gifted/cursed” with the ability to get good grades fairly easily. 

I barely studied and got A’s. 

This taught me that I didn’t have to work to excel. 

On the one hand, it was a gift.

It meant I didn’t have to feel a lot of pressure growing up. 

As a high achiever, that was the dream. 

I received praise, appreciation, love, and attention from authority figures fairly easily. 

So far, so good, right?

Well, here’s what happened…and why I say it was also a curse.

In order to receive approval, I learned that I needed to excel and be at the top. 

I learned that I had to always get it “right” and dare I say, be “perfect.”

This made things a million times harder for me when I got into college and entered the job market at the same time. 

In college, I was working 2 jobs while in school. 

When I got a “D” for my final grade in a class, I was crushed.

It meant I had to retake the class to keep my GPA up. 

When it came time to do final projects, plus show up to work, I could barely manage. 

I was at my wit’s end, just trying to stay afloat. 

I never learned resilience or how to manage during moments of high stress and anxiety. 

One night, I was in my room studying, when I began breathing heavily. 

My chest started to tighten, and out of nowhere, I started crying uncontrollably. 

I reached for my inhaler since I have asthma, but it wasn’t bringing relief the way it was supposed to. 

Here’s the truth — I didn’t know how to manage my life anymore.  
 

I had duct-taped my emotional state together for so long, but at that point, the tape was breaking — and I couldn’t hold it together. 

I had no idea what was happening. It was becoming harder to breathe, so I called my mother and she rushed me to the hospital. 

I had been living for so long trying to perform, look good in other people’s eyes, and still be considered “perfect”, and the cracks were starting to show.

I remember the doctors at the hospital running all kinds of tests, but aside from an elevated heart rate, they couldn’t find anything physically wrong with me. 

I later realized that was my very first panic attack. 

It was a physical state induced by my mental state. 

My mind had started to control my physical body, and it was shutting down. 

After that, I dedicated myself to personal development. 

But I began to approach it in the same way I did my studies. 

I wanted to get it “just right.”

But here are 3 things I wish someone had told me before I began to go on my own self-development journey:

1. Being resistant to change is normal. 

This may will be hard. And yes, you can do hard things.

Imagine you’re 300 lbs, and your ideal weight is 150. 

The decision to lose weight may be very easy, but the process of actually doing it? 

Well, that’s a different story.   

Changing our mental and emotional state, or rewiring negative habits and patterns of thinking that cause anxiety and stress is not something people typically do overnight. 

You’re going to have to confront an entire lifetime of programming, so assuming it can and should be released with just the snap of a finger sets you up for frustration or maybe even giving up on yourself.  

2. Assuming you’re regressing. 

You will likely encounter issues you thought you’d “overcome” already.

It’s natural for the same (or very similar) issues and triggers to arise, even after some time has passed.

Don’t get discouraged or judge yourself. 

It’s a way of proving to yourself that you’ve integrated the lesson, and are truly ready to move on.

3. Thinking you have to always be on your “A” game.

If you’re trying to lose weight, you may still eat a cookie every now and then. 

The human experience is full of an entire range of emotions.

Yes, negative moments will likely become fewer and further between.

But it’s ok to get upset now and then. It’s ok to fall, and pick yourself back up. 

And finally, the last thing I would tell my former self: 

It’s ok to lighten up. And it’s ok to be triggered. 

There are no “grades” in life. 

Embrace the journey and have compassion for yourself. 

The moment you go into thinking we need to be “perfect,” is the only time we begin to break down. 

If you’re having a hard time managing your day-to-day responsibilities and still finding time for yourself, I can promise you — it does get better. 

I am grateful now to have the knowledge, tools, and understanding that I didn’t have 15+ years ago. 

If you’re looking for relief from performance anxiety, perfectionism, or managing stress, I have a workshop coming up this month called Emotional Regulation for High Achievers.  

The fee to join is only $100. 

You can join the workshop here: 

<<Yes, I want to enroll in the Emotional Regulation for High Achievers Workshop!>>

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I'm Kiara Perkins

I have a passion for helping people get clear on who they are, and what they want, so they can get the life they desire.