Do people call you a perfectionist? Do they say you have a Type A personality? That you are overly organized? While I appreciate people who have their lives put together with a big T I’m not one of them.
As your slovenly, imperfect friend, I have some words of wisdom to share with you. For starters, give yourself a break. No one is perfect, nor are they meant to be.
Give yourself a break.
Do you hold the people in your life to the same exacting standards you hold yourself? If so, knock it off. On both counts.
According to Psychology Today, “Perfectionism is driven primarily by internal pressures, such as the desire to avoid failure or harsh judgment. There is likely a social component as well because perfectionistic tendencies have increased substantially among young people over the past 30 years, regardless of gender or culture. Greater academic and professional competition is thought to play a role, along with the pervasive presence of social media and the harmful social comparisons it elicits.”
Signs You’re A Perfectionist (paraphrased from Psychology Today)
- You set unrealistic and high expectations
- You are overly critical — of yourself and others
- You are a master procrastinator due to your fear of failure
- It’s hard for you to accept compliments and you tend not to celebrate success
- You “look to specific people in your life for validation.”
You Are Good Enough. You Are Great! You Are Magnificent!
You are good enough. You are great! You are magnificent! I have a feeling your anxiety is driving this fear of failure and perfecting of perfectionism. On the flip-side, my imperfection is driven by anxiety of success and it in turn allows me to leave the dishes in the sink and the book draft unfinished…
The truth is, finding a balance is where we find the happy place of less stress and more wins.
According to Toni Bernhard J.D.’s article, “How to Overcome Your Perfectionist Tendencies” in Psychology Today a good place to start is by stopping the comparison game.
Do you scroll through Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat or other socials and feel the sinking feeling that you don’t measure up? Time to unfollow those accounts. Rethink why you’re on social. Then, go follow the accounts that lift you up — not the ones that drag you down because everything presented looks too good to be perfect.
You know what? If it looks too good to be perfect, it probably is too good to be perfect!
Bernhard says mindfulness and self-compassion will go a long way in helping you let go of your perfectionist tendencies. She found hope when she realized, “The mind is pliant. We can change the way we think and act. We can, in effect, rewire the brain.”
- Mindfulness — When you find your brain engaging in criticism of yourself or others, tell that voice to back off and replace it with a new positive voice. For example, your three year old gives you a portrait of yourself. Your nose is huge, you have warts all over your face, and a whisker on your chin. Note how this makes you feel. Are you thinking, “This isn’t an accurate portrayal of me.” “Why would my child do this to me?” Revise the critical voice to say, “How whimsical. This is a funny, imaginative portrait of me.” “My child is so artistic.”
- Self-Compassion — Let’s say you try out a Kundalini yoga class for the first time. You tell yourself, “I look silly,” “I don’t know any of these positions,” “I’m not as strong or flexible as the rest of the class,” or “What does my brilliant teacher think of me?!” Notice these voices running through your mind and revise them, “I look like I’m having fun because I am,” “I’m learning new positions just like the others in class had to do before me,” “I am working my way up to being stronger and more flexible,” and “My teacher is happy I am here and trying my best.”
When you learn to reframe these critical voices in your head a heaviness is lifted and you’ll navigate life with a newfound confidence and lightness of not carrying unnecessary burdens.
I challenge you to dialogue with your perfectionist voice and see what happens. I’m guessing you’ll find this out:
You’re good enough. You’re great! You’re magnificent!
Originally published on Curious on October 23, 2020.
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