The Secret to overcoming perfectionism
Are you a perfectionist? It seems that so many with anxiety are.
Now, perfectionism isn’t a problem in itself. Most people want to do a good job, to look good and for life to run smoothly. But perfectionism is a problem if it makes anxiety worse.
Do you feel you need to look perfect? Do you believe that your work needs to be perfect every time? Do you need your day to run perfectly in order to be calm and happy? Maybe you even feel that your anxiety around needing things to be perfect holds you back from doing the things you’d really like to be doing in your life.
Perfectionism is such a common issue and a big driver of anxiety. If things aren’t perfect we feel bad because we don’t feel ‘good enough’ or, we feel out of control or we feel like a failure.
Theres something going on here that I call the ‘perfection myth’; this idea that firstly a) perfection is achievable and secondly b) perfection = happiness.
But neither of these things are true!
One important factor is that as perfectionists we often ‘strive’ for perfection.
It’s this very ‘striving’ that makes us anxious and unhappy, the opposite of what we are aiming for.
And if you’re waiting for everything to be perfect before you can be happy, you’re going to be waiting a long time.
Also when it comes to this idea of ‘perfect’ we keep moving the goal posts. I had a client once who was always ‘striving’ for perfection in her work. However as soon as she’d attained one great result or reached one milestone, she set the bar even higher for herself. She was never going to reach that point where she could relax and enjoy her success.
I’ve certainly felt the pressure to look a certain way as well as that horrible feeling of being out of control when things haven’t gone according to my so called ‘perfect’ plan.
But the truth is that perfection doesn’t really exist. It’s just an idea or an opinion. It never lasts and it keeps changing. This is not the sort of thing we should hang our happiness on!
In fact, perfectionism is so often driven by an underlying sense that we are not good enough. If we hold that belief, it doesn’t matter how well we do or how great we look, we’re never going to feel that we are good enough.
The secret to overcoming perfectionism and the anxiety that it creates is to simply focus on ‘being good enough’; because you are. All you can ever do is your best and you know what? Your best can shine through when you let go a little, stop striving and give yourself some mental space just to be yourself.
So whether it comes to work, relationships or your appearance, remember, you are already good enough, just as you are. Just do your best. Everyone has their own unique set of strengths and challenges and in fact, it’s your flaws as well as your good points that help to make you the wonderful, lovable person that you are.
I have this written on a post-it on my mirror
Try it yourself!
Have a think now about some areas of your life that you can be overly perfectionist. Remind yourself that you can only do your best and it’s enough and then let it go. Relax. Imagine the tension around that issue melting away.
I’d love to hear about one specific area that you can be a perfectionist in in the comments below and how you could start to overcome it by aiming for ‘good enough’ instead.
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