So it's true - I'm a recovering perfectionist...
I've lived under this intimidating inner voice that told me everything I did was never good enough for as long as I can remember.
And I'm not joking when I say NEVER. Not just some of the time - nothing was ever enough.
It went a lot like this...
"Just re-read it one more time" - where by I would always find so many more things to "improve".
"That doesn't look quite right" - so I would spend hours and hours fiddling.
"But the house is not sparkly and shiny and clean enough" - which meant I'd spend more time than necessary to do the job.
"Your hair, it's not sitting right" - too much time fluffing around getting frustrated.
"Your pants are too tight" - throwing clothes all around the room changing outfits.
"You didn't run far or long enough today" - I'd be up at the crack of dawn to do "better" tomorrow.
"You're not eating well enough" - More harsh limitations and restrictions of which I could never stick to.
All I could ever see was what I could have done better.
If I got 90% in a test, I would be thinking what about the other 10%???
Which meant I was constantly disappointed in myself.
And when I'm living at her beck and call and responding to her annoying, unloving voice I don't feel good about myself.
I constantly feel like I should be doing better, I'm looking around at everyone else, seeing how they are doing better than me, I'm feeling down because I should be so much further ahead by now.
Feeling like I've let myself down. And not only just myself, but everyone else too.
Feeling useless, and wondering what's the point, why bother.
Feeling like a total failure.
And living like that feels hard, unhappy and miserable. I'm forever chasing my tail just trying to keep up.
But keep up with what?
What was I trying to keep up with?
The question is who is setting the standards?
Who is setting the expectations?
Society? My family? My partner? My Community?
Nope - none of the above.
I was. But I didn't even realise this.
When we have high expectations we are constantly striving to meet them and "get there", and this massive gap always exists.
We feel disheartened, dissatisfied and deflated, because we never really arrive.
There is always something that should have been done better. We are always looking so far up the mountain, that this prevents us from experiencing peace and joy of being in the moment, in the process, in the adventure of journeying through life.
Yuk, it sounds harsh doesn't it?
But you get the idea, perhaps you have a familiar voice living inside your head constantly telling you how you're not measuring up to standard?
So, How can you befriend your inner perfectionist?
- First acknowledge that she exists. Acknowledge there is a part of you that wants everything you do to be somewhat perfect - whatever that is. It's important to acknowledge this part of you, rather than ignoring it and trying to hide it.
- Second, understand that there is a positive reason she exists. Recognise how these qualities are useful and important for you. What might be the benefit that this perfectionist part of you holds? Does she want to produce incredible, exquisite, top quality outcomes and results? Does she have an eye for beauty, or does she admire quality? Does she like the reward of discipline and hardwork?
- Third, ask her what she needs to feel safe and enough. What is she seeking in her action of striving for perfection? Does she seek approval and recognition? Does she want to be liked? Does she want to feel valuable because of what she does? Does she need acknowlegment, love or safety from you. Does she need to know you're not going to dismiss and ignore her? If you drop into a quiet space, and into your heart you will hear her tell you what she needs.
- Forth, give her what she needs. Give her a voice. Acknowledge her. Hear her. Allow her to feel safe and loved.
We are all carrying around parts of ourselves that we have dismissed, that are broken off and hurting. Often they just need to be heard and loved to bring them back into wholeness within ourselves.
This can be a simple process, and with awareness you can choose to hear that voice, hear what she has to say, thank her for looking out for your safety and remind her you've got this covered and you're doing it a new way now.
I realise this may sound a little crazy - but if that voice is driving you crazy - then what have you got to lose by trying to understand it instead, to find out what it needs to feel safe.
And as a result...
- You can get more done in less time.
- You can stop procrastinating and finish more projects.
- You have more time in your life to spend with family, friends and leisure.
- You can feel content, comfortable and at peace within yourself.
- You can let yourself off the hook and feel good about what you've done (or not done!!!)
- You'll feel less stressed, exhausted and wired.
Give yourself the gift of making friends with your inner perfectionist because it's so much easier than fighting, struggling and banging heads with her.