How Perfectionism Is Far From Perfect

Perfectionism isn't perfect and I'll tell you why. True perfectionism can have a serious detrimental effect on both our health and well-being. Unfortunately I know first hand as I've been there and worn the t-shirt so to speak, with the consequence being burnout and acute anxiety.

The far from perfect video!!

Perfectionism in its rawest form is simply the "need to be perfect". The problem is this need has the tendency to rob us of our peace of mind, confidence and the general enjoyment of life. It causes a great deal of stress and anxiety if not recognised and managed, which lets face it is pretty rubbish.

My own experience of perfectionism has seen me be extremely punitive to myself, with the inner voice telling me over and over again that I'm just not good enough.

Telling myself off for the slightest fault has been common practice. Alternatively I've also been known to take the extreme opposite approach, in that I would avoid anything that I was worried I would fail at.

This is not to say I haven't been successful because I have in many ways, but I have allowed perfectionism over the years to stand in between myself, my goals and celebrating personal success. 

Root Cause

The question is what causes perfectionism in a person? For me it certainly stems from certain childhood events, which may not be too dissimilar to others. I also believe society in general has a huge role to play, with the pressures to succeed ever increasing. This in turn is parallel to the general pace of life these days.

Success and happiness are quite portrayed in the media as something that is only attainable if you have the following:

  • Tops grades at school
  • Obtain a First Class Degree
  • Have the best job (what is this by the way, surely different for everyone??)
  • Earn large sums of money
  • Own a big house
  • Have the best car
  • Marry the perfect partner
  • Have kids and of course they too have to be the best at everything..... and so the list goes on!! 

Is there any surprise that perfectionists never feel truly fulfilled and continuously knock their own success. 

We as Women

We as women have a tendency to hone in on our imperfections and have real trouble seeing anything else. We continuously set goals that are beyond even superwomen's reach, and sadly beat ourselves up for not achieving them. 

Come on even Wonder Woman has off days!!! 

How do we say no to perfectionism?

The key question is how do we release ourselves from the claws of perfectionism? Well I'm not prefect at this (excuse the pun!!! :-) but I do know its possible through implementing some simple techniques:

  1. The first step is to start a journal so that you can note your feelings during the day, creating more awareness of critical self talk, in other words you start to recognise your perfectionism trait.
  2. Once you have commenced work on your journal you will be able to notice the level of your perfectionism and start interrupting those negative thought habits; replacing them with positive thoughts.
  3. At the end of each day write down one achievement from that day that you would like to pat yourself on the back for. Remember your doing well :-)
  4. Start setting yourself realistic goals. Look everything doesn't have to be 100%, in fact anything above 85% is not good for us ;-)
  5. Commence work on stopping yourself from comparing your achievement against someone else's. Each and everyone of us is unique which must be celebrated. Focus on your success story and celebrate your uniqueness.
  6. Learn to forgive yourself for your shortcomings. None of us are perfect.
  7. Commence work on a goal you have been longing to achieve, but have been too afraid to start just in case your failed. Does it really matter if you do, life is a lesson that can be embraced if we allow it!!
  8. Learn to be kind to yourself xxxx 
PERFECTIONISM IS THE VOICE OF THE OPPRESSOR
— ANNE LAMOTT

Practice does not make perfect, but it does help 

Yes the above steps do take a bit of practice and some may work better than others. Regardless it's important to remember that we are not looking for perfection here! Just a little bit of self perseverance and a lot of patting yourself on the back. It's time to be kind to yourself, remember no one is perfect. xxx

 

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*It's important  to seek professional support if you believe perfectionism is having a detrimental effect on your health.