I used to wear perfectionism as a badge of honor. I was proud of it.
I thought perfectionism worked for me. As an educator, a wife, and a woman, it helped drive me to accomplish things to a high standard.
I held a lot of pride in that amazing display board. That meticulously planned lesson. The color-coded storage folders with matching labels. I was unsatisfied with anything I perceived as less than perfect. That meant working long hours where it was never quite good enough.
In my Personal Life
Perfectionism meant I would notice when things were not ‘perfect’. I was highly critical of myself and those around me. At its worse, it became debilitating.
After Having a Child
My life was less than perfect in my eyes. Mother Nature cleverly decided that a child is a unique soul with individual needs who WILL NOT be controlled and pushed into anyone’s ‘perfectionist’ box.
My son came out screaming and did not stop!
As an experienced early childhood teacher, I believed it was going to come naturally to me. I had spent most of my working life with children, so it was a shock when it did not come naturally to me. Feeding my child did not come naturally to me. Soothing a screaming child did not come naturally to me.
What made it worse was the “advice” people kept giving me:
“Just do what comes naturally.”
“Listen to your child, you will know what to do.”
“Trust your instincts.”
“This time will pass so quickly, enjoy it.”
My instincts were yelling :
“What the hell is happening here!”
“Why won’t he stop crying?”
“Please somebody help me. I can’t do this!”
We as women put so much pressure on ourselves as new mothers and when this unique soul burst into my well-controlled life, it sent me into a wave of self-doubt and depression.
Thankfully with support from a therapist and from my family, I have worked through my bout with post-natal depression. That experience, allowed me to learn more about myself and my perfectionism.
What I have learnt about Perfectionism:
1. Perfectionism is a fear of failure.
Yet, ‘failure’ presents us with rich opportunities for growth. So, let’s not call them ‘failures’ anymore. You are learning. You are growing. When things don’t go right, it gives us an opportunity to learn. To learn about ourselves, to learn about the event, and to learn how we can do to be better.
Isn’t that a great thing?
“Perfectionism is a dream killer, because it’s just fear disguised as trying to do your best. It just is.”
– Mastin Kipp
2. Embrace imperfection and allow things to flow into your life.
Gripping onto control does not allow for the universe to provide guidance into your life. Focusing on what MUST be does not allow for what COULD be. Take a deep breath, let go and trust in the universe. What reveals itself might surprise you and be what you actually needed all along.
3. Putting your unrealistic perfectionism upon the people around creates stress and anxiety.
No one can live under those parameters! Your expectations on how others should behave and live their lives not only creates stress and anxiety on others; it puts stress and anxiety on you when others do not live up to your perfectionism. Here’s a truth bomb, no one will ever live up to your perfectionism! No one! So let it go.
4. Perfectionists fear looking less than perfect to others.
By controlling all the variables, there is less chance of looking bad to others. Reframe that thought. You are human and showing those imperfections will draw people to you instead. We all have them. The reality is people are not paying that much attention to what you are doing! Trust me. We are all caught up in our own lives, doing the best we can. There’s no time to see those ‘imperfections’ you so fear!
“We can choose to be perfect and admired or to be real and loved.”
– Glennon Doyle Melton
5. Perfectionism will hold you back from experiencing life.
That fear you have will stop you from taking chances. It will hold you back from trying new things and putting yourself out there. How many of us have avoided doing something for fear of not doing it perfectly? We’ve got to let that go and live life!
Final thoughts: The best way to move away from perfectionism and to become a fearless woman is to get comfortable with imperfection! Perhaps, even embrace it!
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