For all the recovering and past perfectionists out there.. I get you!
Perfectionism can be described as the desire to be perfect or flawless – whether that is exceedingly high standards that you aspire to personally or the expectations of others.
At some point or another we have all had to realise that the illusion that we were chasing wouldn’t heal us. A better job, a fitter body, more clothes, even a feature coloured wall (and believe me I have painted a few of those). All those things effectively did was to keep us running towards a ‘happy someday’ or mask other emotional turmoil.
It keeps us believing that fixing the outside would be the way to out run life’s rich tapestry (all those little challenges and problems in our lives, all the things that we have endured but survived). As we often learn the hard way, whatever we run away from, we inevitably run right into..
When you are a perfectionist, it is very likely that your sense of self is linked directly to how you think other people feel about you (which is important to distinguish from how other people actually feel about you, since perfectionists’ perception of other people’s opinions of them tends to be skewed much more than the reality). This ultimately means you are only as successful as other people perceive you.
The whole concept of ‘how people perceive you’ is another image you hold in your mind, no two people view you the same way. No one person has only one opinion or view about you.
There are both positive and negative consequences of perfectionism. On the encouraging side it can be a motivating factor in achieving our goals, practicing and honing self-improvement, trying harder in future endeavours. Those of us that now use perfectionism in a positive way are mainly focused and driven which helps us reach our aspirations in life.
However there is, as I know a fine line and many people strive for perfectionism and end up succumbing to the downside of this trait, setting up standards that are extremely high and not maintainable, rigid or just impossible to achieve – setting us up for failure, disappointment, negative self-evaluation, exhaustion, stress and fatigue.
Some become so overwhelmed with such stress and demands of perfectionism that they are unable to start a task, fear of failure or criticism can lead to procrastination and imposter syndrome.
So many people struggle with the negative aspects of perfectionism, and people who experience OCD, social anxiety and even panic disorder may even be more prone to issues of perfectionism.
My own experience was complex, using perfectionism to mask the feelings of anxiety, trying to live up to an internal ideal and negative thinking that others wouldn’t except me if they knew what I was experiencing – like a weakness and a feeling of disapproval from others of being inadequate.
It was just another story I had created to mask how I was feeling.
If this sounds familiar and perfectionism is another behaviour that is holding you back and increasing anxiety in your life – then lets chat and compare notes!