Transforming Perfectionism and People-pleasing: a Breathwork Story

If you are like most Highly Sensitive Introverts, you aspire to be your best Self. It’s my joy to encourage you. After you read the client story, click the button for the HSP Retreats. It’s a wise choice if you want to create rapid shifts in your life.

Highly Sensitive Introverts deal with two typical challenges: perfectionism and people-pleasing. While these coping strategies may increase career success, they cover up emotional wounds. You can’t access them to heal them. Your life will grow at a snail’s pace compared to what it could be.

In this coping pattern, the masks we wear make us look good on the outside while concealing underlying dynamics.

  1. Anxiety hides behind the curtain while your driven Worker Bee takes center stage.
  2. Success covers up low self-esteem that you’d rather not admit.
  3. Relationships suffer because your Authentic Self isn’t fully showing up.
  4. Conflicts don’t get resolved so they drain your energy.
  5. Your body endures the brunt of the stress: headaches, tense muscles, tight jaws, TMJ, digestive disorders, and more.

In the following story, you’ll read about a highly sensitive woman who struggled with similar issues. She is thrilled to share her remarkable transformations during our May HSP Retreat. My client had learned a lot in individual sessions and a retreat seven months prior. This foundation enabled Breathwork to generate giant shifts in just one weekend. 

I hope this story inspires you. You might want to take notes about the practices that will help your Authentic Self shine more brightly.


Transforming Perfectionism and People-pleasing:

a Breathwork Story



I’ve been doing HSP life coaching and spiritual counseling with Benita Esposito for 10 months. I’ll tell you about my second Breathwork Retreat for Highly Sensitive Introverts. I was less nervous the second time because I knew that amazing results often occur.

First, I will share the success I am experiencing three weeks after the retreat, and then I’ll explain the processes used to create these outstanding transformations.


The results I am experiencing after the Breathwork HSP Retreat.

1.     I see things in my life that were once troubling and confusing with much more peace and clarity. I can lean on God for guidance. I tap into the feeling of Love and my anxiety vanishes. Relief wraps around me like a soft blanket as I remember I don’t have to know everything.

2.     Before the HSP Retreat, my whole life was filled with anxiety triggered by my Inner Critic’s incessant scolding: “You are not getting enough done.”  I transformed that crippling pattern in one weekend in this HSP Retreat. Now, I don’t always complete everything on my to do list because I prioritize self-care. When I finish the day, I feel calm and satisfied that I have done enough. If I had known that only this one thing could have been accomplished in one year, it would have all been worth it. I’m happy to say there are many more accomplishments to report.

3.     The constant pain in my neck has diminished. My chiropractor was astonished when she measured the range of motion after the HSP Retreat. My neck had been stuck at 45 degrees for years. Now, I have a full 90-degree rotation and it’s pain-free. This is an absolute miracle!

4.     The reason I do my personal growth work has shifted. Before, I wanted to improve myself so others would have a better experience of me. I wanted to be a good-enough parent, wife, and daughter. I tried to please people, and I was preoccupied with what they thought of me. I needed strokes from them because I didn’t know how to affirm myself. Now, I no longer focus outside of myself 99% of the time. My goal is to build an intimate relationship with myself. A year ago, I believed that was selfish. I no longer believe that. I deserve to feel amazing. Everyone has free will. Others may choose to benefit from my healing or not. I realize how little control I have over others. Before, I thought I could (and should) make others like me. I thought I was that powerful. It has been a relief to surrender that huge responsibility I put on myself.

5.     I want close family relationships. Before the HSP Retreat, when my grown children shared their problems, I felt compelled to help by giving advice. This time when my daughter spoke, I listened from my heart without judgment. I didn’t problem-solve. I realized that she wanted me to listen instead of giving her answers. I didn’t manipulate her thinking process to conform to my beliefs. She melted into me and gave me the biggest hug, saying “I just love ya.” We haven’t had that in a long time.

6.     My marriage has matured. As I become more free, my husband is becoming more free. Months ago, Benita planted a seed that someday I could have deep emotional intimacy with him. I didn’t know what deep emotional intimacy was, or that I wanted it. Then, I hoped to have it, but I knew it would be a struggle. My husband would have to change, and he always resisted my requests to change. I believed that I was growing and he wasn’t. I was scared we would grow apart. We had to do everything together, or I didn’t feel secure. Recently, he told me that he wanted to make a pilgrimage overseas, and he asked if I wanted to go. Before, I would have felt compelled to go because we defined “devotion to each other” as trying to please each other. But this time, I told him that I didn’t feel called to go. Then, he disclosed that he wanted to go by himself. He shared, “It will be my journey back to myself.” By sharing my truth, he felt free to tell his truth. We are less enmeshed, which is a foundational shift for us.

7.     Now, my body feels grounded. I am present in my body, not just my head. I sleep through the night. Anxiety is much lower. I notice my breath more, and I take time to practice inhaling and exhaling. People notice that I am smiling more.


Breathwork processes produced major transformation in the HSP Retreat.

Part of me always believed that if I let uncomfortable feelings out of Pandora’s Box, the pain would never end.

People-pleasing and perfectionism were the masks I wore.

These protector parts prevented the potential calamity of an emotional tsunami. They exiled my wounded inner children so they wouldn’t cause trouble. The protectors didn’t let me feel the depth of my inner pain.


Benita explained the transformation process.

We needed to heal the wounds of our inner children before our anxiety-laden masks could fall away. Many of these wounds are held at the unconscious level. Our agenda was to find the wounds, engage our spiritual connection, and mend at a deep level.

My commitments to my Self: Mindfulness

I promised to stay present in my Authentic Self. I would not avoid difficult emotions or physical sensations. I would invite my inner children to exit their cave and walk out into the light of day. I would watch when my protectors tried to silence them.

I observed my thoughts without judgment instead of acting on them. Beliefs arose such as, “I can’t do this. Nothing is happening.” I considered how I could get out of breathwork, like “just fake it,” or “tell Benita it’s too hard, and I need to stop.” I just kept on breathing.

I chose to endure uncomfortable physical sensations instead of leaving my body. I noticed the tension in my face, hands, feet, and belly. Sometimes, I felt like I would float away. Benita sensed this and put a large rock on my belly to help me stay in my body. Her hands pressed on my chest, which provided comfort and support to stay present. I just kept on breathing.

I allowed uncomfortable emotions to be expressed: tears, sobbing sounds, and deep sighs. Different body parts moved and shook spontaneously. I just kept on breathing.

It was not easy, but I did not stop. I didn’t give up, distract myself, or run away. With Benita’s guidance, I stayed present. I showed my scared inner family members that I was strong enough to handle their fears.

The Pivotal Shift

As I persevered through the difficult emotions, a door spontaneously opened in my mind. I connected with Jesus. I experienced His indescribable love, peace, comfort, and healing. I felt so safe and warm. I rested, relaxed, and felt held in His arms. It was euphoric!

At the end of the Breathwork experience, Benita led us in a guided imagery where we met Jesus walking along a beach. His message to me was “Remember this.” Receiving his unconditional love was the ultimate experience. I was shown that I could trust this new reality, and I could return whenever I wanted.


Since my breathwork session, I feel so uplifted. I am grateful to know what the love of God FEELS like. I remember to focus on the connection with God. My inner family members trust my Authentic Self to be their wise leader and they feel safer. My protectors (people-pleasing and perfectionism) have softened because my inner children feel stronger. They don’t need as much protection.

Working with Benita Esposito weekly and in these retreats has changed my life immeasurably. I appreciate her extensive knowledge and skill, coupled with her relentless faith and patience. She has breathed new life into mine. I am forever grateful. I highly recommend Benita as a spirit-led guide on the HSP journey to wholeness.

Benita A. Esposito, Life Coach and Spiritual Counselor

Contact information

Benita A. Esposito offers global spiritual counseling and life coaching for Highly Sensitive Introverts via Zoom videoconference. Psychotherapy is available to residents of Georgia and North Carolina. If you would like to participate in an HSP Retreat or private confidential sessions, please complete the application on the Contact Page. Benita Esposito will respond within 24 hours Monday-Friday, except for holidays.


Photo credits: 

Masks: Benita A. Esposito

Photo of Benita Benita: K. Boyer Photography

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