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  • Writer's pictureCandy Widdifield

Dear Candy Q&A: Overachieving & Slowing It Down

Jun 5, 2023

Candy Widdifield


I have some exciting news! I will be taking Dear Candy Q&A live, once a month, July to September. Have your questions answered in real time, over zoom. More information about this will be coming in this months Rewiring Your Wellness Newsletter, so stay tuned!


Recovery isn't just about alleviating symptoms and getting back to life, at least not if we want it to be sustainable. We can't just go back to doing things the way we did before because the way we did things in all likelihood contributed to limbic system impairment in the first place. The vast majority of re-trainers are overachievers and perfectionists and can be really hard on themselves. That inner critic voice continually drives them to do more and be more. In order to fully heal and stay healed, we have to be willing to acknowledge the role that these parts play in our lives, and to slow ourselves down. That doesn't mean we can't ever go back to doing the same things we did before, it simply means our perspective and approach to those things has to change in order to stay in optimal wellbeing.


Ask yourself, "Where does overachieving or perfectionism show up in my life?" Is it in, "I'll just get this last thing done and then I'll take a break" or "This has to be done today, (regardless of what is in my training zone)." or the beliefs that, "If I don't do this perfectly I'm not going to get better" or "I'm not doing enough, not trying hard enough" or in "I'll just hurry up and get this done." Perhaps it is in prioritizing other people's needs over your own, doing more for others than is necessary, at your own expense. Sometimes the perfectionist part can also show up as a procrastinator. The underlying belief is that if you can't do it perfectly or you might fail at it then there is no point in even trying at all. It gets in the way of getting started or staying consistent.

All of these feelings of pressure - needing to do more, be more, be perfect, these add a lot of pressure on you. This pressure feeds the maladaptive neurochemistry and pathways in the limbic system, which contributes to keeping you stuck. Even if we are doing "all the right things", if we are approaching those things with pressure, stress, feelings of inadequacy, seeing it as a burden to just push through and get done, it takes away some of the benefits.

Then because we are not seeing the results we want, it just confirms that we aren't good enough, not trying hard enough, needing to do more, etc. It becomes a vicious cycle.


We don't have to go into in-depth parts work in order to address these aspects of self. An awareness of them, where they came from (likely childhood as a way of getting your needs met, at least temporarily), and what they are trying to accomplish is sufficient. Then we can start to cultivate our curious observer to notice when and how these show up. We can have self compassion and reassure ourselves that we don't have to continue to engage in these behaviours or believe in the false messages (or outdated information) that come with them in order to have our needs met. In fact, if we can be kind and loving towards ourselves instead of harsh and critical, if we can know that we are loved and loveable just the way we are and we don't have to continually prove ourselves, then our systems can relax and we start to see positive changes.

Part of counteracting the impact of these parts is through intentionally and consciously slowing ourselves down. The type of pressure described above leads to hurrying and rushing. Training ourselves to do things slower, to take our time, is a necessary endeavour in order to help change those old patterns. Your limbic system might argue that there isn't enough time to do things slower, but ask yourself, "Is that really true?" How many things get added to our to-do list every day that really aren't a priority and could wait? How many things could be delegated to others instead of trying to do it all ourselves? How quickly are we doing our tasks and practices for no other reason than to just get them checked off our list and get onto the next thing? This level of rushing in our nervous system equates to being in survival mode. If we want to train our brain and nervous system that we are safe, that they can relax, then we have to stop engaging in behaviours that tell them otherwise. A consistent daily meditation practice can help with this.


I invite you for this next week to do things at half the speed you would normally do them. Notice the thoughts that show up, they will give you great information about the beliefs and negative thinking patterns that are likely slowing your progress. Be gentle and kind with yourself, know that these old patterns were there to protect you or help you get your needs met at one point, but they are no longer needed. You have a different way of doing things now and you can reassure yourself that you're capable of taking care of yourself and meeting your needs in a healthier way.


Until next time!


If you have a question, please email me at dearcandyquestions@gmail.com

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Candy Widdifield is Certified Master Coach, Registered Reiki Master Teacher and former Registered Clinical Counsellor, living in Calgary Alberta, Canada. She has a background in brain retraining & nervous system regulation, trauma, grief & loss, mindfulness, somatic therapy, & positive psychology. She taught the DNRS in-person program for 5 years, has over a decade of experience coaching brain re-trainers & provides mentorship to other coaches. Candy works with people all over the world, helping them to optimize their wellbeing and thrive in their lives. More information about Candy can be found at www.candywiddifield.com

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