I was a perfectionist.
Actually, it’s probably more accurate to say that I thought I was a ‘first-class perfectionist’. Not that I came anywhere close to being perfect, mind you. Quite the opposite.
My quest for perfection did not make me perfect at all, in fact most times it just made me stressed and miserable. You see, the definition of a perfectionist is not someone who does everything perfectly, a perfectionist is someone who thinks they ‘should’ be doing everything perfectly.
Perfectionism can be defined as a personality trait that sees someone constantly striving for flawlessness, an individual who sets unrealistic expectations on themselves and highly sensitive of others opinions.
Perfectionism drives people to attempt unrealistic and unattainable ideals and goals in their life, unfortunately this can lead to depression and low-self esteem. Sadly, according to research published by the American Psychological Association socially prescribed perfectionism has increased by 33 percent since the 1980’s. (Gah! Maybe I’m following too many perfectly curated insta feeds).
Nowadays I’m happily on the other side of perfectionism. I have surrendered to the notion that I need to be perfect. I have acknowledged that that letting go of perfection does not make me lazy or slack. And, I have realised that I can motivate myself much better with kindness, joy and creativity.
In this article, I’m sharing 3 mindset shifts that will help you stop perfectionist traits in their tracks!
// MINDSET SHIFT 1 – STOP BEATING YOURSELF UP
Do you find yourself looking at your to-do list at the end of each day and despite having checked many things off, you still feel like you didn’t do enough? This is a common feeling all perfectionists experience day in day out.
To break this perfectionist ‘spell’, start by being more realistic about what you put on your to-do list to start with.
Then every time you catch yourself negatively judging your ability or performance, visualize a big red stop sign or even better physically put your hand out in front of you.
This will help to stop those critical thoughts, now say to yourself ‘you are good enough’ and ‘you have done enough’. As you start to take notice of these negative thoughts you will begin to interrupt the pathways and retrain your negative thought process.
Rather than letting these perfectionist thoughts take control of your mind, you’re choosing to put up some healthy boundaries with yourself. Those ‘beating up’ sessions will start to disappear and you’ll become more accepting of who you are, a perfectly imperfect human being!
// MINDSET SHIFT 2 – STRIVE FOR PROGRESS, NOT PERFECTION
Let go of the notion that you need to be perfect and instead make peace with imperfect progress instead.
Being stuck in the perfectionist cycle means you’re constantly thinking negatively – “I could do better”, “I’m not successful enough”, or “This is sh*t”.
This ‘never good enough’ mentality permeates throughout your brain. Reframing this narrative and shifting focus towards recognizing progress (not perfection) will allow you to appreciate the steps along the way whilst also learning and growing from any mistakes made.
// MINDSET SHIFT 3 – REALISE THAT YOUR OPINION MATTERS MOST
In your quest for perfection, it is likely that your own sense of self has become directly related to how you ‘think’ other people feel about you. Notice I said how you ‘think’ other people feel about you? A perfectionists’ perception of people’s opinions usually tends to be negatively skewed.
Have you ever asked yourself “Who am I trying to be perfect for?”
Trust me, everyone is far too busy concentrating on their own stuff to take notice of every aspect in your life.
What thoughts or feelings come up when you say to yourself “I need to be perfect” or “It must be perfect”?
Now, try telling yourself, “I don’t have to be perfect.” How does that feel in comparison? Much better, right?
The only person’s opinion that matters is YOU, and you get to choose how you feel about being perfect. Once you come to know this, the shackles of perfectionism will start to loosen.
So there you have it, confessions and mindset shifts from a recovering perfectionist. If there’s one takeaway from this article it’s “perfectionism is overrated and imperfectionism is where it’s at.”
Just remember, you are perfectly imperfect just the way you are babe!