Have you ever felt the need to set a goal that was so far out that you never ever reached that goal?
Have you ever felt the need to go over your work over and over and over again, to make it just “perfect”?
Have you ever set expectation for yourself and your family to behave perfectly because of what people might think of you otherwise?
Have you always wanted to be “right” or perfect in front of people?
If you have answered yes to any of those questions and if this situation has been ongoing for a while, you may be dealing with a case of perfectionism. And I am here to tell you that it is not ok!
You see, if you keep on that path, you might find yourself:
- Putting extra pressure on yourself.
- Pushing your body and mind to do certain things that you perceive to be perfect.
- Being constantly dissatisfied with your life.
- Searching for a “Perfect ” mission in life leading to discontentment with everything.
- Having very high expectations from yourself and people around you.
- Constantly changing jobs and careers as a result of wanting perfection in everything.
- Frequently breaking relationships in search of a “Perfect” Partner.
- Being unable to be compassionate with yourself and others.
- Thinking that everyone else is perfect, except you.
In our society, perfectionism is almost the Gold Standard.
Perfection is just a perception.
Perfection is the worst standard.
Let me explain!
I believe that when people refers to Perfection, they think about excellence. A person who strives to achieve his or her best. Who trains constantly to improve their game or their best performance. And that is the description of Excellence. There is a desire to excel. There is a desire to learn and improve. But inherently, there is also the understanding that one needs to improve and that it is ok to fail to learn.
Perfectionism is NOT excellence!
The perfectionist has a tendency to set standards that are too high. The person can never achieve them (and therefore set themselves to fail no matter what) or set goals that are so difficult to achieve that they are only met very rarely, allowing the person to be disappointed in themselves on a regular basis. Furthermore, those people tend to become really anxious when they are not meeting those criteria for perfection. They believe that anything short of perfect is horrible and that disastrous things will happen if perfection is not achieved. They tend to push themselves too hard and expect the same from everybody around them making them very difficult to work with.
Yes Perfectionism and Excellence are closely related but that small difference between the two make one healthy and the other not so much.
Excellence in sports and in everything means that the person is going to push themselves to achieve their goal and that level of excellence. But in order to achieve that goal, they inherently accept that they are going to fail. And that only in failing time and again will they improve. They accept that they are not perfect now but that by practicing they will improve. Striving for excellence shows that they have good work ethics and strength of character.
Perfectionism is almost like having an obsession with NOT failing, with NOT being weak. If you are not perfect, you are exposing yourself to everybody’s judgement and it can not be a good thing. Being a perfectionist also means that you have no self-esteem and so that you do not recognise the good things in you. Being very critical about themselves and their work, they tend to push themselves too hard, emotionally and physically, making them vulnerable to burn-out. Considering being exhausted a sign of weakness, they will ignore their basic needs and fail where they so wanted to succeed. They will always focus on what could have been done better, what failed and what did not go as plan, either in themselves or in the world around them, rather than focusing on the overall achievement. They are usually successful people, but they can not see those successes. Finally, they tend to self-sabotage themselves or suffer from procrastination, in order to avoid failing. If you don’t try, if you don’t do something, then you can not fail at it! I know the logic is strange, but you would be surprised.
The reason I know about this subject so well? Because I used to be a perfectionist. I used to only see my failure (or perceived ones) and I used to refuse to acknowledge my success. I pushed myself well beyond the limit of reason, because if I stopped and asked for help, it would have been a sign of weaknesses and that was way too dangerous for me to do!
So being perfectionist is an excuse!
An excuse for being mean to yourself, to put yourself down. An excuse to not move forward (you will never succeed! Right!? So whY even try!) An excuse to not face the fear of failure.
I was a perfectionist. I was driven by the fear of being judged. And it led me to a burn-out and it reinforced my fear of being judged. It took a long time for me to see that that fear of being judged was immobilizing.
After I recovered from burn-out, I was petrified by the knowledge that I had FAILED! And petrified of the knowledge that people knew and would judge me and would never hire me again. And being a perfectionist I became really really good at not being seen and not getting any attention drawn to myself.
It took a long time to realise that if I was not facing that fear, I would never do anything and I was not down with that anymore!
I am still driven and I want to reach excellence and be the best I can be. But I don’t let my fears lead my life anymore. I stop and celebrate my success and recognise when I need a rest. I have become compassionate towards myself.
I give myself as many opportunities to celebrate my success as I can. Even the smallest step is a reason to celebrate to give myself a pat of the back and say Well done, Joelle! 🙂
I am not a perfectionist anymore! No, but I am working on it! I changed my perspectives, I have changed my life.
What needs to change for you to give up perfectionism and become an excellence seeker?
Let me know!
PS: I am hosting a webinar on Thursday this week, about Perfectionism and how EFT can help. I hope to see you there! Click here and reserve your seat!