The title of “perfectionist” never seemed to fit me.
Perfection would be hands free mama, and I’m looking at my phone all the time. Perfection would be a size 6, and ahem, I’m not. Perfection would be artistic, and I feel like I limp through the creative field on a wing and a prayer.
Perfection would be athletic. I’m not.
Perfection would be well-spoken, and I struggle being concise.
Perfection wouldn’t yell, and I’m good at it.
Perfection would have a clean car, and mine is full of stale French fries and sandy flip flops. Perfection would at least put on mascara each day. I don’t even dry my hair, let alone wear mascara.
Perfection would be an organized house. Ours has “organized” piles.
Perfection would know how to forgive herself. And obviously, I don’t. How can I forgive someone who is so blatantly failing?
My inner critic lectures me:
Just put the phone down, work out, focus, run, shut up, be quiet, wear makeup, and clean your car and house. How hard can it be? You must lack self-discipline.
Yes, irresponsible and lazy. Those are the obvious labels.
But perfection? SNORT. You are SO obviously NOT PERFECT.
Have you ever felt like this?
Tell me I’m not alone.
But here’s what I’ve learned lately: the definition of a perfectionist isn’t necessarily someone who does it all perfectly, every time. It’s someone who wants it to be done perfectly every time.
Has the barrage of negative self-talk left you defeated on more days than not?
I am constantly thinking about what could be better, and how I could attain it. The fact that I don’t attain it doesn’t make me any less of a perfectionist.
If you think you’re not a perfectionist, let me ask:
Has the barrage of negative self-talk left you defeated on more days than not? If you answer no, I’d challenge you to ask yourself if any of the following statements hit home:
- A good mom would put down her phone.
- A good dad wouldn’t yell.
- A healthy woman would workout.
- A fit guy would get to the gym more often.
- A good business woman would know how to navigate the creative and business world.
- A good businessman would be an esteemed leader in his field.
- An inspiring leader would be articulate and well-spoken.
- A good wife would have a clean house and car and wear make up every day.
- A good husband would fix all the broken honey-dos around the house.
- Do these statements conjure up emotions of disgust, resignation, shame, guilt, embarrassment, timidity?
Isn’t it funny how there is some kind of invisible standard we hold ourselves to?
I don’t know where we get this image of this ideal person from: TV shows, how-to books authored by people who have all the solutions and none of the problems, beautiful Instagram feeds, so perfectly curated?
We know it’s not all true; we know it’s impossible.
Yet we still fall into the practice of comparison.
When comparison lies to me, telling me I am not enough, perfectionism quickly steps in to affirm them. The lies turn into beliefs.
I must not be a good mom, a healthy wife, or a business leader. I mean, I’ll keep trying, but the chances of success are slim. I always backslide to my phone, my heavy weight, and my I don’t think I can do this business thing.
The scary thing about these lies-turned-beliefs is they become action.
We cannot act apart from our beliefs, so the self-sabotage cycle begins. We thrust ourselves into self-fulfilling prophecies. When the worst becomes true, it is affirmed by our beliefs, which are derived from the lies of comparison and perfectionism.
I don’t know about you, but it’s a cycle I feel like I cannot survive.
It must be reversed in order for me to breathe again, develop beautiful relationships, and live a life that means something.
I’m learning that perfectionism, no matter how it exhibits itself, is an addiction to comparison.
And like most addictions, it’s never fully gone.
The battle will be daily, but the good news is, it will be easily won.
A perfectionist must face the demons of sobriety if he or she is going to ever see the other side of that dark wall. The battle will be daily, but the good news is, it will be easily won.
You simply have to catch yourself beating yourself up.
Feeling guilty about looking at your phone?
Remind yourself of the last time (probably yesterday) you were really attentive to your loved ones, and tell yourself you know you’re going to finish up soon, and leave the phone in the other room.
Feeling defeated about not getting to the gym?
Remind yourself it’s a slow process, and that change happens in minute increments. You’ve had successes before: congratulate yourself on them! And don’t berate yourself if you didn’t make it to the gym today.
Feeling “less than” in your career?
Remind yourself that everyone, including you, is given certain gifts and certain seasons. You work hard, and you’ll keep working hard and doing your best, and your season, however it looks is one that you WILL enjoy, without comparison.
The solution to perfectionism is simple, and like all things that really push us forward in life, easier said than done.
Take captive every negative thought and turn it into something positive. You can do it.
This post originally appeared on Storyline and was republished with permission.
For more on comparison, watch Shawn Johnson’s short film below: