“It’s not good enough.”
“What will my audience think of me?”
“What if my email doesn’t make sense?”
“What if I mess up the presentation?”
“What if I make a mistake?”
“I HAVE TO BE PERFECT!”
Do any of these statements sound familiar to you? Especially when you are about to perform a task? Are you a self-proclaimed perfectionist? Well, keep reading!
I always said I had a love/hate relationship with social media and blogging. That wasn’t entirely true. I was a perfectionist. I would stress about corrections I would have to make on my social media posts and blogs. I would spend weeks on blogs and hours on one Instagram post. I would constantly talk down to myself if it was not perfect.
“It’s not good enough.”
“That sounds dumb.”
“What if my audience doesn’t “like” my comments?”
Now reading my past thoughts is exhausting. Can you guess how those thoughts made me feel? Anxious, frustrated, annoyed, and overwhelmed. With those feelings, do you think I wanted to keep up with blogging and social media? Nope. So I stopped. I became sad and depressed that I wasn’t living my passion of inspiring others. I started to doubt myself and become more critical of who I was as a person. I felt unworthy and did not love myself around showing up as a blogger or influencer. I didn’t think I was good enough because I was not perfect. After months of feeling this way, I finally made the decision to figure out how I could move forward. How could I be okay with my blogs and posts and stop being perfect?
What is Perfectionism?
I tried to find the best definition for perfectionism. I really resonated with the definition from the American Psychological Association dictionary.
“the tendency to demand of others or of oneself an extremely high or even flawless level of performance, in excess of what is required by the situation.”
For me, this definition fits the way my clients frame their perfectionism. They have “extremely high” expectations of themselves in their work, relationships, and home life. I really appreciated the second part of the definition; “in excess of what is required of the situation.” BAM!!
When I talk to my clients about their perfectionism and what is expected of them from others, they tell me that there are no expectations from others. Their boss, kids, partners and friends don't expect them to be perfect at all. I had to sit with that when I stopped blogging. I finally asked myself, “Does my audience want to be perfect or real?”
What Causes Perfectionism?
Perfectionism can start sometime during the early childhood years. Many times it can be in response to something painful in someone’s life. For example, maybe your parents divorce caused you to start acting perfect in order to keep the peace. Maybe you didn’t want your parents to have to worry about anything because the divorce was so painful. Maybe perfectionism was a response to how you adjusted to living in an abusive home. Perhaps if you strived for perfection in school or at home, it would keep you safe from the wrath of your abusive parent. Maybe you would get kudos and you would feel loved for once. Lastly, maybe you responded to being shamed by a teacher or student at school, by getting perfect grades in school. Or you responded to the bully by trying to be the perfect friend. You did not want to be shamed again. You did not want to feel unsafe again. You learned that in order to feel safe, valued and loved, you needed to be perfect.
How Does Perfectionism Make You Feel About Yourself?
Anxious, depressed, scared, overwhelmed, inadequate, angry and insecure. Does that sound about right? Sleepless nights. Procrastinating because you do not want to feel these emotions, so you don’t do the project at all. Self-doubt, self-criticism, and worst-case scenario, self-loathing. Self-loathing is the opposite of self-love. No, no, no, we can’t have that. This blog is all about self-love.
How Can You Overcome Perfectionism?
1) Recognize the Issue
Do you think you are a perfectionist? Or do you have perfectionist tendencies? Do you find yourself getting emotional when you can’t do something perfectly? Acknowledge it. It is okay. It does not take away from the beautiful person you are.
2) Reflect On What Might Have Caused Your Perfectionism
Get that journal out and start writing. Really dig deep. Try these journal prompts to help you:
“What is my earliest memory of trying to be perfect?”
“Who was I trying to please by being perfect?”
“Did someone tell me I had to be perfect?”
“Did someone tell me I couldn’t or shouldn’t make mistakes?”
“Did I start to be perfect to feel safe, loved or valued?”
3) Acknowledge Thoughts and Feelings That Come Up When You Are Not Perfect
Again, take the time to journal when you have thoughts and feelings because you made a mistake and you were not perfect. Usually these are negative thoughts and feelings. Anxiety, depression, or feeling overwhelmed. Maybe you start to cry because things just aren't perfect. Take some deep breaths and use the positive self-talk tips in the next section.
4) Reframe Perfectionistic Thoughts with Positive Self-Talk
Old Thought - “It’s not good enough.”
New Thought- “It is good enough.”
Old Thought - “What will my audience think of me?”
New Thought- “What do I think of me?”
Old Thought - “What if I mess up the presentation?”
New Thought - “It’s okay if I mess up. Just keep going.”
Old Thought - “What if I make a mistake?”
New Thought - “Everyone makes mistakes. The mistake would be stopping.”
Old Thought - “I HAVE TO BE PERFECT!”
New Thought - “ I GET TO BE HUMAN! NO ONE IS PERFECT!”
5) Get Support
If you continue to struggle with perfectionism and you want to dig deeper, reach out to a licensed mental health professional. Sometimes you can get stuck and perfectionism can negatively impact your life.
Well, I hope this article is helpful to you. No one is perfct. : - )
Let me know what you think of this article. Does it resonate with you? Which tip helped you the most?
I am a therapist who helps individuals who are motivated to transform their inner voice of self-doubt and self-criticism into a powerful voice of positive self-talk and self-trust. We help individuals recognize their inner worth, build their self-esteem and speak their truth.