As an Atlanta therapist who has been in practice for over 13 years, I’ve found myself saying the same thing in various ways to many of my clients. There’s a pattern, a natural flow of thought, that many anxious or high performing high achievers experience. It’s a pattern that involves perfectionism (think ‘this needs to be done right’), emotional invalidation (think not noticing emotions at all, logicing emotions away..that’s not a word but I’m using it as one, or invalidating emotions by saying ‘just push through it’ or ‘it’s fine’ or ‘that doesn’t matter’ or ‘who cares’ or ‘suck it up’). 

In some way, this style of being, thinking, and communicating serves high achievers. They’re the ones that get things done. They’re the leaders, CEO’s, entrepreneurs, and successful people. They lead the fight, win the game, and conquer the enemy. They do things WELL.

AND, they often feel lonely at the top. They can feel people don’t understand them. They can deal with tension, unexplained medical issues, or anxiety attacks. 

This is such a difficult dynamic. On the one hand, high achieving serves them. On the other hand, it hurts them. 

Enter me, an Atlanta therapist who works with high achievers. What I wish they knew, and hope they will learn from meeting with me is:

When I start to meet with my high achieving clients in my Atlanta therapist office, they often very quickly hear me talking to them about shame. Shame is often hidden for high achievers, but when we begin to dig we can find it hidden in their ‘shoulds’. We explore what they believe they ‘should’ do, or be, or achieve. 

Once we’ve uncovered hidden should’s we begin to kindly and wholeheartedly dismantel them. 

This is a delicate process because high achievers don’t want to get rid of high achievingness (again, not a word), and honestly they shouldn’t. But, we can learn to approach it differently. We can approach it from a place of kindness towards our humanity. We can explore personal values, and pursue them from a place of kindness towards self and others. We can let go of the notion that any human being is perfect, and embrace the idea that we are enough regardless of human flaws, and that other people can survive our humanness and maybe even be blessed by it. 

That last part is important because many high achievers end up carrying the burden of being responsible for other people. And, in my Atlanta therapy office I end up hearing them expressing worry about what will happen to others if they don’t force perfection on themselves. That’s a tough concept to consider and wrestle with. And, the notion that we can be perfect all of the time for everyone it unrealistic and only fuels anxiety and other issues. Once we shift our narratives we are able to access our sense of responsibility from a place of kindness rather than a place of judment.

This is important because in the research we literally find that judgment FUELS shame! 

I wish you knew not to judge yourself. I wish you knew, that it’s okay to be kind. I wish you knew it’s okay to be human and have human needs. I wish you knew how to approach leadership from a place of wholeheartedness. 

And I’m here for the journey. If you’re thinking about seeing a skilled and experienced Atlanta therapist, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

-Mikela Hallmark, MS, LPC, LMHC, CPCS

Certified in EMDR, trained in Gottman Method through level 3
Licensed in Florida, Georgia, and Maryland