The idea of perfectionism can come about in our lives in many ways. First, it can be about obtaining success or feeling successful in our lives. Success means something different to each of us, it can be our careers, building a family, becoming Insta famous... whatever you define it as. Second, it can be about preventing errors or mistakes in our lives. We create or carry the fear that if something doesn’t go as planned, we are the reason to blame or even worse, that others may be disappointed in us.
Perfectionism can creep up on us at any time and really get in the way of our daily lives. These often-intrusive thoughts can develop undesirable feelings, emotions and even physical symptoms in our bodies. Here are some signs that perfectionism is taking up too much space in your brain and body: your stress levels have gone through the roof, you may notice muscle aches, fatigue, and changes in your appetite (skipping meals or binge eating), and you’re constantly worrying. These are just a few ways that perfectionism can show up in your life, there are many other signs and behaviours that can occur too.
Imagine a jar in front of you that you want to open the lid, but it’s stuck on tightly. You grab that jar and begin twisting it in your hand, over and over and over until your palm is red and sore. Then you tell yourself, well I guess I can’t open the jar that’s it. Then your perfectionistic brain goes “wow I can’t believe you couldn’t open that, it would have been so easy for Sally, you can never do anything on your own” OUCH! Rude much?!?
Perfectionism tells us that we are failing, we aren’t good enough or we don’t have the skills to be successful if we aren’t trying hard enough. Instead, working through your perfectionism and changing that thinking trap to “it’s okay I need help here, I don’t have to be just like Sally and do it all on my own every time…” being much gentler with yourself and not assuming that all is lost because you can’t open a silly goose jar on your own! I mean, the jar here is the metaphor for all the times we feel like we’re struggling with something, maybe our jobs, careers, a relationship, paying our bills, and we feel like we can’t ask for help. We feel like if we do, we’ve failed. That if we aren’t trying hard enough, we simply are not good enough.
Think about a time in your life when this thinking has shown up for you. What did that perfectionism cost you? What could you do differently to challenge those thoughts to achieve other outcomes?
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