As an Atlanta counselor, I love working with high achievers. I love working with perfectionists. I love it I guess because I do so much work around releasing shame and perfectionism while still honoring one’s goals and desires for achievement. It’s tough work. And it’s so much fun.

I’ve learned a few things along the way. So, let’s dive in to some of the observations I’ve made as an Atlanta counselor. Some of the research on shame indicates that vulnerability is a great way to combat it so to speak.

But here’s the tricky part, high achievers can appear to be great at being vulnerable. Vulnerability is actually what helps us have high risk tolerance. It’s what allows us to be creative. It allows us to innovate. But, sometimes high achievers learn to turn off certain feelings in order to deal with being vulnerable. And while that may seem helpful in business, it can bleed into relationships. Since we’re able to shut off the scary feeling of taking a risk, sometimes we shut off feelings towards others or we learn to disregard their feelings. And this is exactly where we get into trouble.

You see, high achievers can hone in and focus on whatever it is they are measuring as success. But, we can often forget to prioritize our other values too. And, often times we learn to judge based on what we view a ssuccess which gets pretty tricky because if someone else is valuing something other than what we perceive as success, we judge them.

We think that success will make us happy. And, in some aspects it does. But, if we slow down long enough to evaluate our lives we might recognize that other things have slipped. Maybe it’s the connection with our spouse, maybe it’s our physical health, maybe it’s our passion for helping the poor….we forget to value other things in our lives.

And since we’ve put success at the top of our priorities list, when other things threaten to take precedent, we shrug them off. We judge how they should feel or think or believe. We rationalize that our kids will be taken care of if our businesses prosper. We rationalize that we are working hard for our spouse and that SHOULD matter.

Since we shut our own feelings off, we expect others to do the same. We expect others to value what we value. We expect them to get it and to get over themselves.

But this is not how humanity works.

People crave connection. They crave attention to things that uplift them. They crave time well spent together. And we high achievers sometimes devalue this. We think of success as a certain dollar or achievement,and we judge anyone who isn’t on board with that.

But most of us have relationships with loved ones that are not contingent on money or achievement. Our loved ones long for connection with us. Not our awards. Not our money. They want us.

And so we have this tough balance between setting goals and achieving, and valuing relationships. It’s not an easy task, I know. Most of us can’t just quit our work and spend 100% of our time with our families. Our work is important. It impacts people. And so, we benefit from figuring it out.

A good key to start with is to really listen to your loved ones. Are they asking for more time? Are they asking for more respect? Are they asking you to validate their feelings? If you get the vibe they are wanting connection with you, see what you can do. Think about whether or not you can put effort in.