Last week, I wrote a post all about how perfectionism ruined my life, but I know for sure, lots of people experience it like this too. If you recognize any of those things in yourself, I encourage you to take steps to banish it from your life. It’s one of those really toxic self-sabotaging behaviors you just don’t want to be repeating over and over again. We face enough obstacles in our lives as it is, why create even more?
Let’s heal the perfectionism ridden mind to become a progress seeking mind! Okay, that sounded funky, gotta think about another slogan.
So, today, I want to give a run down on techniques you can use to fight perfectionism and more importantly – a procrastination and taking action anxiety that comes as a natural result of this mindset.
Why should you fight it? If last weeks post didn’t resonate with you enough and you are still looking for reasons why this self-sabotaging behavior is not healthy, I’ll give you a few more:
NO MASTERPIECE IS EVER PERFECT – THE BEAUTY OF IT LIES IN ITS VULNERABILITY
This one is important if you are a creative person. You are killing your own potential. Study any great artist of your choice. Their work is saturated with their traits, opinions, character flaws and best qualities. That’s what makes an art – you. Just as you are. It’s an act of self-expression. And each one of us humans is a magnificent piece of art as a whole. Not some perfect robot.
That’s another thing that sucks the joy out of life. So what if someone is going someplace faster. It doesn’t matter! It’s their journey! We are all just little specks. Watch a documentary or an informative video on youtube on how small your body is in a whole universe. You are here to be unapologetically YOU. Happy, healthy YOU. Not someone else. Don’t ever model yourself on anyone. It’s some way to success, but you never going to be a road to true greatness. And you never going to be happy, acting like someone else.
ON TIME IS BETTER THAN PERFECT
If you struggle with perfectionism at work, you might find yourself really struggling meeting the deadlines or not meeting them at all. Been there, done that – even at school I used to be always late with the assignments and got a worse grade constantly by putting more work into it. Believe me on this one – on time it is better than perfect. In the end, I feel like whoever you doing something for – you have to respect their time, and by doing this you are showing them a greater dosage of respect, than perfecting whatever you doing and being late. Being on time is very important in life or at work.
IT’S A DOWNWARD SPIRAL TO DEPRESSION, ANXIETY, AND ADDICTION
Like I mentioned before, your perfectionistic thinking can turn into those 3 things quite easily. And the nature of mental health problems is very sneaky. They seem to creep up on you for months before you even realize that you have a problem. I mean, I used to just think that I just suddenly acquired a dry sense of humor, when I had my first depression episode. I honestly thought It’s just who I am now. Don’t do that. Monitor yourself. Be mindful of thoughts.
Now that we cleared all the reasons, I will tell you how I am dealing with perfectionistic thinking normally.
ACKNOWLEDGE THE PROBLEM
First, absolutely basic step every single person with any issue needs to take. It takes a great deal of personal courage to stand back for a minute and say: ‘Yes, I am flawed’. Especially if you are indeed a perfectionist. We spend so much time thinking that that’s not right, we don’t have a problem – we are just detail orientated. Or organized. Diligent. We just like to make an effort. Yes, but if you sacrifice your own mental health and happiness for something it’s no longer an effort it’s a self-inflicted torture.
That’s why I propose an exercise:
Stand or sit in front of a mirror and look yourself in the eyes. Say: I’m a perfectionist, but I acknowledge that perfectionistic thinking doesn’t serve me. Therefore I will let it go.
Then say, and mean it each time:
I’m sorry for being a perfectionist.
I forgive you for being a perfectionist.
I love you.
See how I sneaked in a little bit of Ho’oponopono? Which if you read my blog you probably know from my 7-day self-discovery workbook you can get here.
But seriously, it’s important to forgive yourself and acknowledge the problem.
Do this every time you feel like you get off the track and want to get back there.
MONITOR YOUR THOUGHTS
By this, I sincerely recommend using mindfulness. The book I love that will teach you how to be better at being mindful of your everyday life is Frazzled by Ruby Wax. I read and re-read this book whenever I struggle with depression or anxiety.
REPLACE PERFECTIONISTIC THINKING WITH REALISTIC THINKING
My perfectionism came in a box with low self-esteem. We are often being very critical and mean to ourselves, so why not acknowledge those toxic thoughts and replace them with something nicer? Like realistic nicer, not ‘my house is on fire, but I’m doing great’ type of thing.
Write some of them down as affirmations and just practice it as often as you notice negative thoughts starting to pop up. For example, mine are:
- “I’m doing my best.”
- “It’s okay to do it for 70% instead of 100%”
- “Mistakes are to learn and grow from, they don’t mean that I’m stupid. I’m like everyone else – human in my own special way”
- “It’s okay not to please everyone, especially if it means being honest with myself”
- “It’s okay if some people don’t like me. It’s better to be hated for being myself than loved by everyone not being myself”
- “It’s okay to take a break if you’re tired”
It’s going to sound traumatic and it’s going to be traumatic. But it’s by far one of the most effective ways to heal yourself from being a perfectionist. It’s literally, looking the fear straight in the eyes. It’s doing what you fear. And to be fair, that’s the only method that truly works 100% if you are scared of something. Face your fear.
For example, I used to have a terrible problem telling people how I really felt, to the point when I was bottling up my emotions for so long, I just burst out with them one day. They have exploded after years of trying to suppress them. Because they were always there, even if I didn’t remember consciously. Repressed emotions don’t disappear. They turn into issues.
And once I burst, I was ashamed, but I actually started realising that fixing everything, apologising for the fact I dared to be honest and carrying on like this is not an answer. So I started being honest with everybody instead of trying my best to please them with my answers. Yes, that was scary, I remember the very first time I did it and I wish it was this beautiful, courageous moment people write books about. It wasn’t. It was crap. I was so quiet and my voice was so shaky, I felt like crying, running home and diving underneath my duvet. It was awkward at first, but once I realized that nobody really cared if I agree or not agree, it became a second nature to me. I mean people can get pissed off at first because they feel like you have changed or that you confused them, because before you used to say something else, but just keep being honest. Because you are not changing – you finally give yourself a permission to stop lying about your feelings. And see how that will work out.
It cost me few friendships and few relationship, but I found my tribe. I never regretted it and I would do it again if I had a do over.
You don’t have to become ruthlessly honest straight away, you can ease into it, but I always recommend a radical change, because being extremely impatient, I just like the shift it brings.
Instead of trying to do 100% of your to-do list, set 3-5 things that are most important and finish them. If you do, you can carry on with the rest of the stuff. Sometimes, I like to ditch the rest purposely if I know they are not urgent. Just to keep my perfectionism in check.
It’s hard work changing your old ways, but I believe in you. And I want you to believe in yourself and motivate yourself accordingly. There’s no broken people. It’s just that you need healing. But nobody else can heal you – in this case – but yourself. So for all that hard work with healing yourself, facing your fears and breaking bad habits – reward yourself. Think about something like I don’t know a hot bath, every time when you are an honest-with-yourself badass.
Hope this post helped you, as this issue is very close to my heart because I struggled with it for a long time. It’s very important to take a time out of your day to deal with your issues and health problems – even mental health problems. It’s a self-care in it’s purest form.
Let me know what you think in the comments!
Have a wonderful day!