Battle with Being a Perfectionist – part 2

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In my last post, I discussed my journey about my battle with being a perfectionist.  Being a perfectionist is not something that I choose to be.  Matter of fact, I choose to live.  When you’re trying to be perfect at everything, it can be extremely exhausting.  On top of that, there’s something about no longer being yourself that is present.  In the perfectionist mode, you try your best to be something that you’re not.  You’re spending all that time and energy protecting yourself from being rejected and/or abandoned or trying to please others instead of yourself.  After all, perfectionism is a dangerous cycle.

Battle of Being a Perfectionist - part 2

For this reason, that cycle repeated for most of my adult life.  Whenever I tried to discuss this with my family, they treated me like I was wrong. In fact, they made me feel like what I was feeling was all in my head.  It was time for me to learn how to let go.  Letting go is not so easy either.  I wanted so much to prove that I was right in my feelings, but it didn’t work to no avail.

Though from time to time I still fall, I work hard to do my best to learn from the experience so I don’t do it again.  There were a lot of lessons to be learned and believe me, I’m still learning.

“God, grant me the serenity to stop beating myself up for not doing things perfectly, the courage to forgive myself because I’m working on doing better, and the wisdom to know that You already love me just the way I am.”  ~ Eleanor Brownn

Finding out I was adopted wasn’t an easy thing to accept.  I did feel shame and wonder what happened with my mother to cause her to give me up.  I learned how to build this fortress around me to try and protect myself from all the pain, rejection, judgments of others, etc.  Because I was flawed, I couldn’t accept myself. I truly felt that I wasn’t worth anything to anyone.  This was the biggest lie of them all.

“Perfectionism is just fear in fancy shoes and a mink coat,” ~ Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

I’m a work in progress. At least, that’s what I tell myself and everyone else.  It helps to keep me grounded so I don’t go off the perfectionist cliff.  I’m now at a point where I am accepting myself for who I am.  At one time, I truly didn’t know who I was, but this whole journey has been a journey of self-discovery.  I have learned a lot about myself and one thing I’ve learned is that I don’t like to flock with the rest of the crowd.  I love marching to the beat of my own drum.  I’ve accepted that I am different and that it is okay.

“Perfectionism is not the same thing has striving to be your best. Perfectionism is the belief that if we live perfect, look perfect, and act perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgment, and shame. It’s a shield. It’s a twenty-ton shield that we lug around thinking it will protect us when, in fact, it’s the thing that’s really preventing us from flight.”  ~ Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are

Striving for perfectionism, I worried constantly what other people thought.  I lived my life based on what other people wanted for me. Their opinion of me meant more to me than my own.  At this point, I was lost.

Wanting the acceptance of others should not be your goal.  It is the acceptance and love of yourself that is the goal.  What other people think, do, or say should not be our focus.  Our deepest focus should be our happiness and how to get it.  As I write these words to you, I am reminded once again that I am fine just the way I am.

Overcoming perfectionism can be achieved.  Here are five ways to overcome perfectionism:

  1. Learn to Love Who You Are.  You are you. You cannot be someone else.  Why would you want to?  I can relate that sometimes things get hard and we wish to be someone else.  What will that get you?  Practice self-love.  Get a piece of paper and start listing at least ten things you like about yourself.  When you start feeling bad about yourself, take this list out and look at it. Look at it as often as necessary to get the truth in your head. Continue to add to the list.  Make it grow.
  2. Stop Living in the Past.  The past has happened. You cannot go back there and make changes or get a do-over.  As hard as it may be, it’s time to leave it be.  It’s time to move forward.  You can remember the experiences of your past, and use them as life lessons.  It’s time to let go.
  3. Stop the Self-Criticisms. Criticizing yourself is a harsh thing.  Our words have more power than you may believe. Watch what you’re saying to yourself. If you make a mistake, it’s not the time to make that moment a self-bashing moment.  Mistakes are lessons that we need to learn. Be gentle with you.  Most of all, be patient with yourself.
  4. Celebrate your victories! Take time to celebrate each victory in your life.  If you take one step forward, reward yourself with something small. Keep in mind that each step along your journey is important and it deserves to be celebrated.  Which leads me to my last point….
  5. Enjoy the Journey.  You may not be at your destination.  It’s okay. Though that is the goal, learn to enjoy where you are now.  Live in the moment. This time is something you cannot repeat or get back. Yes, the final destination is your goal.  How will you remember your journey if you keep your total focus on the destination?  Take a moment and look around.  Breathe in each moment.  Keep in mind that each moment will not always be a good or joyful one, but it can be something you can learn from.

As we come to the end of this two-part series, I hope that you were able to learn some strategies to help you overcome being a perfectionist.  It won’t go away overnight and there will be some struggles.  Remember, you are not alone. I’m in it with you.  I would love to hear what strategy you use to overcome perfectionism. Please share below.

Until Next Time….