So I was at a recovery meeting the other day and an individual shared something that struck a heavy chord with me about Perfectionism.
What was shared sparked the realization that my brain tended to get stuck in a state of Perfectionism. Meaning, a state, that while I am in it, I am constantly judging reality based on an ideal in my own brain. That and when the ideal is not met, the world is not okay. At least the world from this perspective anyways!
But our perspectives have a way of blurring what is going on in the real world. They can also be blurring the fact that the world may be perfect just the way it is.
Wandering through life in a perfectionistic state like this can make life very painful. A life where hardly anything seems good enough does not lend itself to having healthy relationships. Since this Perfectionism doesn’t seem to just be pointed at ourselves, we hold others to our standards as well.
I don’t know about you but this State of mind and not being in the moment has also done immense damage to my mental and emotional health over the years. What is really a trip is that as I look back on my life, even recently, I seem to be on autopilot while acting out on it.
Waking up to perfectionism.
As I said the state perfectionism I get into tends to live on autopilot. Meaning that i am generally not aware that I am doing it!
But as I look back on my past and sometimes still today, I find a ton of evidence for my more perfectionistic side.
Here are some of the clues that we may be stuck in Perfectionism:
- Having the feeling that something I just accomplished just wasn’t good enough.
- Not having a healthy sense of pride for productive skills.
- Being overly critical of something not completed exactly right.
- Also Being overly critical of something done well.
- Having the feeling of being a failure even when things are going well.
- Setting to high of standards for what other people are attempting.
- Not offering up enough healthy praise for jobs done well by ourselves or others.
For the sake of this article I am not so worried about the why this problem came to be a problem. We cannot do much about the past except do well for our present.
I realize that on a bad day, there isn’t much of anything that I will perceive as good enough. This isn’t right, that isn’t right, they aren’t right, life isn’t right.. There must be some ideal that I am connected to and absolutely everything is missing it’s mark. This can set off a cascade of disappointment, anger, or possibly self-pity.
Thankfully today I can feel when this is happening and do something about it. For many years I didn’t have a clue!
The Stress of Perfectionism
There is an important place for being rigorous in getting things done well. I also believe that there is a place for pushing ourselves and other people to work hard to do well for what we collectively set out to do.
But after a certain point, the rigor and pushing for a certain outcome turns into a pushy and unhelpful cause of unneeded stress. Maybe it will get something helpful done, but is all that stress worth a maybe? That is a conclusion we all need to come to for ourselves.
We may push people to do what they don’t care about. As well as attach ourselves to ideas that we believe we are supposed to care about, but at our cores we don’t.
Not believing in what I am working for is stressful. And so is trying to push others to work hard for what they don’t believe in, at least when they won’t follow the plan and be obedient!
So what is the answer here, just sit back and not challenge ourselves or others to become more skilled? Absolutely not.
Letting Go of Perfectionism
Perfectionism is about control. There is something in a Perfectionistic brain that seems to like having things just so!
We have to find ways to let go of this control. That is,unless you are perfectly alright with beating yourself up! As well as harming relationships because they aren’t interested in following WHAT WE PERCIEVE to be the correct path.
I get it though, we desire what is best for the people that we care about, and yes this includes ourselves. It may hurt to let go, because we are invested in a way that may have once worked.
But the truth is that if we are willing to ease up on our Perfectionism, a better way will likely present itself.
There are a few questions we can ask ourselves to put the whole situation into a better perspective.
- Am I working towards something that actually matters to me?
- Do the people I am pushing actually want what I want?
These questions require honest self-reflection, to find out what we really desire. As well as some thoughtful conversations to find out what our relationships desire.
It takes some work, but ultimately could lead to using our and our relationships time and energy more effectively. This means more productivity and less resentment.
From Perfectionism to Realistic Perspective
If after reflecting and communicating you find that you are pushing for what you desire and others are on board, then awesome. I recommend spending time giving ourselves and those in our sights more compliments than criticisms.
This helps me from being too harsh and inflexible, allowing me let go and trust the innate intelligence of the people I surround myself with. It also helps me stay in reality instead of locked into rigid ideals, which is a much more enjoyable state for everybody!
But… Sometimes our relationships have no desire to buy into our visions anymore. It may be a hard pill to swallow. This takes grieving on our parts, so that we don’t get caught in a cycle of anger, self pity and resentment.
Here are some of my personal resources If you need some help to let go. Mind you that using them does not guarantee results for you, but have helped me immensely over the last 9 years in recovery from my own issues.
Tips for Grieving Ideals and Getting Back into Proper Perspective
- Surrender our thoughts and come back to the moment.
- Work on getting over disappointment.
- Do some Therapeutic Writing.
- Work on developing healthy expectations.
- Get priorities in order
I hope this article may help you ease up on rigid ideals you may be forcing on yourself and others.
In the end our relationships with ourselves and others benefit by our pushing for ideals that we all truly find important!
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