How to Calm the Perfectionist Inside You (and Take Control)

Do you want to do everything just perfect?

Good enough is a foreign concept. One of the best wouldn’t do.

You aim at THE BEST.

You push yourself far and beyond to keep the house pristine, everyone satisfied and job done ahead of the deadline.

Like a bulldozer, you propel forward at the highest possible speed sweeping away the mess and pulling others under the blade. Persistent and unstoppable.

Until you run out of gas.

Plummeting into the inertia of complete overwhelm.

Feeling frustrated, guilty and ashamed.

Sisyphean Task

I know perfectionism at its worse.

My mum.

Never satisfied, she couldn’t get rest. Busy as a beaver building a new dam, she would set everyone around her on fire.

“No fun just hard labour!”–She would say. Sisyphean task–ancient Greek’s idea of Hell. Eternal struggle with no reward.

And Hell it was because we, my father and I, had to be perfect too. Doing things exactly mum’s way. “Why didn’t you start cleaning in here first?” “Don’t forget under the couch.” “Too much water, pour it out. It’s potatoes, not soup.”

Frustrated by our “screw-ups”, she would angrily exclaim, “Do I have to do everything myself? If I just could give you my head!”

Like missis Bucket in “Keeping Up Appearances”, “Watch the cows, dear.” But nobody was laughing.

And what about you?

Are you obsessed with cleaning unable to relax until the place is spotless, if not sterile? Boss your family around to do stuff your way? Strive to be a perfect wife, mother and daughter around the clock?

Then you are in over your head.

Ugly Faces of Perfectionism

I’m not a perfectionist just because I want things to be done properly,” — you might say. “I’m nothing like your mum.”

Maybe not but just ask yourself these questions:

Is it hard for me to tune into others emotions?
Do I find it difficult to talk about my own fears and insecurities? Share my feelings with people unless it’s frustrations and overwhelms?
Am I competitive, always comparing myself with my partner and others?
Do I feel jealous when the other person has more success than I have? (Even if it’s my partner or a child?)

Perfectionism has many ugly faces.

It robs you of happiness and poisons your relationships with people who love you.

Perfectionism is a poison for relationships.

How?

By making you emotionally unavailable — unreachable and unresponsive. You’re living in your own head, busy with to-do lists, reaching out mostly to control, correct and complain.

Lack of intimacy turns your relationships into a practical do-this-do-that kind of constructions.

Other Pitfalls of Perfectionism

Perfectionism:

1. Narrows your mind so you stubbornly protect your view of the reality. Impossible to influence from the outside world.

2. Makes you believe that your partner must be a perfect match–an unrealistic expectation that is unhealthy for the relationship.

3. Stops you from doing things you like because of the belief: “If I can’t do it perfectly, there is no reason to do it all.”

4. Controls your self-confidence by making you believe that nothing you do is good enough. Constantly comparing yourself to high-achievers and celebrities in retouched magazines, you feel disappointed because of unrealistically high “standards”.

5. Makes you feel blue because you can’t get what you want.

6. Can lead to more “post-event rumination”.
 That’s why you can’t let go and forgive yourself for mistakes continuously brooding and guessing what-if. And you have a hard time forgiving others.

7. Leads often to procrastination.
 You keep changing, tweaking and adjusting every small detail only feeling satisfied for a short while. If at all. Get stuck because you’re unable to say “I’m done.”

If you are not interested in self-growth, you might be less interested in developing a healthy, mutually satisfying marriage.

4 First Steps to Freedom

Overcoming perfectionism isn’t easy.

But it’s possible.

Here’re the first crucial steps you need to take.

Alter your mindset.

You’re running in circles like a dog chasing her tail. You try to catch what seems to be in front of you, but still as far from your goal as ever.

“If you look for perfection, you’ll never be content.” ~ Leo Tolstoy

Do you want to spend the rest of your life chasing unreachable goals? Feeling miserable and exhausted?

I bet not.

Then welcome to a real world of a fascinating imperfection.

Learn to tolerate anxiety.

Life is messy and rarely goes the way you plan. It’s turning and twisting unexpectedly, completely unconcerned by your dreams.

But worrying doesn’t protect you either from these turns or your own failures and mistakes. It’s a pure waste of energy.

Simply do what has to be done. And let go of what you can’t change or have no influence over. Imagine things you worry about to disappear into the skies like weightless party balloons.

Take a deep breath.

Stop comparing yourself.

There’s no Superwoman in this world. And nobody looks like that picture in your magazine, not even Julia Roberts.

No one’s life is perfect, no matter how it looks — people give and receive wrong impressions all the time.

Remember what love is about — kindness and mutual support, not judgement and competition.

Rebuild your self-esteem.

Build it on a deeper feeling of who you really are, not what people might think of you.

You are good enough in spite of your mistakes, setbacks and imperfections. Start collecting the proof — make a list of your true achievements.

Calm the Perfectionist Inside You

Everybody makes mistakes, so what? Not a big deal.

Perfection doesn’t exist. You’re imperfect just like the rest of us.

No need to set the bar too high.

Besides, imperfection makes you uniquely you.

Love it.

Now, ask yourself a question: “Do I know the difference between good enough and perfect?”

Harder than you thought?

Let’s do it together.

Grab a sheet of paper.

Choose one task you’re working on. Let’s say you want to host a birthday party this year. Write it down.

Now think of the result you want to achieve. Ex.,

“I want to host a perfect party for our friends next week.”

Write it down, too.

Ask yourself: “What is a perfect party?”

Is it a perfectly decorated dinner table? Perfectly served dishes and spotlessly clean bathrooms?

Or it’s a cordial atmosphere and a relaxed hostess? Having a great time with your friends in spite of a thin sauce and not perfectly round cake?

That’s up to you.

Need help?

Find a friend or a mentor, someone you trust and ask that person to help you. Start with the difference between good enough and perfect.

Or choose an imaginary mentor. Did you have a wise granny? She would tell you that you don’t have to be perfect to be loved. That you are good enough as you are.

Listen to her.

Does the perfectionist inside you keep kicking you back?

Find a counsellor or a psychologist to help you with the task.

Stop Chasing Your Tail

Set the plank down. Bit by bit. You don’t need to always be at the top.

Calm down and relax.

Enjoy smiles on your kids’ faces.

Feel relief in your husband’s breath.

Watch your imperfect relationship flourish like spring flowers on a bed of a smelly fertiliser.

The world is a messy but mesmerising place.

Enjoy your ride.

Images by Stock-Snap.io


Originally published at www.lovegrowbehappy.com on April 5, 2017. Visit the Blog for more articles.