Is it true? Are you a perfectionist?
It’s great to be detail orientated, focused on getting things right and doing a good job though when perfection gets out of hand you either take no risks at all or become obsessed with getting everything perfect. I know from experience this can be exhausting as well as time consuming and soul destroying.
We often learn in childhood the need to get things right whether it’s mastering the art of learning the alphabet, times tables, having table manners, tying our shoe laces and maybe later going on to ride a bike or swim, in our early years we never stop learning.
Somewhere along the line we may have been told off, disapproved of, made to feel small, wrong or been openly criticised for something we said, did, didn’t do or say. It’s hard to get things right, let’s be honest and getting them wrong is how we learn except to say we often feel bad or wrong if we make a mistake and this often becomes the driver for wanting to be perfect.
Most of us want to be liked, loved, approved or, accepted and praised and these traits are at the basis of being a perfectionist. There is a part of us in fear of getting things wrong, worries about looking like a fool or worse still there is a fear we are going to be judged by others.
I admit I used to be a perfectionist. I had good teachers when it came to this and modelled my behaviours on being a ‘good girl’. Thing is, for me it got out of hand, I wouldn’t say ‘boo to a goose’, speak up, assert myself or take risks, I didn’t say no to anyone and took on way more work and responsibilities than was my fair share along the way. I’d pretty much compare it to being ‘locked in.’ Being a real person but not actually being ‘me’ only saying, doing or being the person I thought others wanted me to be.
Well…i’m pleased to say when I woke up from falling asleep and realised being a perfectionist was stopping me from achieving my full potential and that I spent more time worrying about what other people would think than actually taking risks in the direction of my dreams. I had a word with myself and asked ‘so is this really working for you?’, you can guess the answer…
I simply unlearnt my learning, I tried new things, fell down a few times and got back up, put on my Superwoman vest and pants and thought what the heck…what’s the worse than can happen – bring it on.
I started placing boundaries about what was okay and not okay for me and I began stretching myself and taking risks. The good news is I had many successes despite fluffing up a few times. Even at times when I got tongue tied or didn’t know an answer to things, I simply accepted this was part of my continued learning. I am now incredibly brave and I love the sense of new found courage and curiosity.
The truth is, you can’t know everything and you can’t please everyone all of the time, so now I’m pleasing myself and have let go of the need to be perfect, liked, loved, accepted or approved of. I can give those things to myself and so can you.
Walk this way and join me in a spot of unpicking your perfectionism.
I invite you to reflect on your own perfectionist traits and behaviours and how they might limit you:
- When did you develop the habit of perfectionism, how old were you?
- Is being a perfectionist now, really as life threatening as it might have seemed when you formed the belief ”I’ve got to be perfect to be loved?”
- How does having a perfectionist streak work for you or indeed hold you back?
- What would you have more time for if you stopped focusing on being perfect?
- Who do you tend to try and please when it comes to being perfect (behaving like a good girl or good boy even if you’re an adult we all still behave this way at times?)
- What’ the cost of your perfectionism, what is it stopping you doing now, in the past or in the future?
- If you were to unlearn your learning what would you do that you’re not currently doing in absence of perfectionism?
- What if you and your efforts are good enough just as they are?
- How will letting go of perfectionism benefit you?
- What can you do today with abandon which will get you out of your comfort zone enabling you to flex your ‘good enough muscle?’
- In the absence of perfectionism what are you choosing to focus on instead?
I’ll admit that’s a lot of questions though you can’t get them wrong…
Begin today as you mean to go on. Let the power of vulnerability and learning be greater than the power of fear and perfectionism.
Remember whatever you’re not doing that you’d like to do is on the other side of perfectionism and it sure feels good on the other side…come join me.
Just for fun if you want to watch me letting go of perfectionism you can do so here on The Well-being Show with Emma-Jane Taylor, now that really was flying by the seat of your pants and my first time on TV. Like you, I too am learning along the way…
Ready to get the help and support you might need in getting past your past? You’re welcome to contact me here or alternatively:
www.bepositive.me.uk for general therapy
www.wendyfry.com for love and relationship support
www.mothersanddaughters.solutions for family and mother-daughter relationships and all that they entail