I like to think that I am not a mean person, yet I find myself saying the meanest things about my body, my efforts, my income, my business, and more. Although I am getting better with it, I think a lot of it has always been due to my perfectionism. If I could not achieve my goals, and do it perfectly, then I felt completely defeated… and the inner mean girl prevailed. And all of the sudden, I questioned why I should even try in the first place.
And despite this mentality feeling entirely draining, I actually don’t think perfectionism is a bad thing. Perfectionism can be great. Theoretically, a healthy dose of perfectionism can be the drive needed for someone to produce their best work. However, getting to a place where perfectionism can inspire you, rather than intimidate you, is hard.
Finding inspiration is something I am actively working towards but feel like I have gotten so much closer to. Whether it be releasing control around my weight or my grades, I am slowly learning that “good enough” is just that. I thought as we head into a new week, it may be helpful to share some tips on how you can begin using perfectionism to your advantage.
- Understand and practice sitting with the idea that average, or less than average, is not something to be afraid of or ashamed of. Part of the way that I distanced myself from unhealthy perfectionism was by giving myself permission to be subpar in some things. Sure, I hated it at first, but the world didn’t end. People still loved me, and I am okay. You will be, too.
- Define what your best effort looks like. Yes, perfection isn’t real. However, this doesn’t mean that you aren’t able to achieve something great. It is good to strive to do your best work, it’s just important that you define what your best is within the given context. Remember, if you’re best feels so out of reach that attempting it feels overwhelming and discouraging, even after breaking it down into smaller steps, it may not be realistic.
- Make failure your friend. A lot of perfectionists are terrified to fail, but psychologists often say that we learn the most from failure. It does not need to be scary. In fact, it may just be one step closer to you reaching your goals.
- Determine what is worthy of your best efforts. Perfectionism often shows up in all areas of your life, but it isn’t realistic to do your best with everything, all of the time. So, choose two or three things at the most to truly invest your best efforts in consistently. This will allow you to get closer to your goals and realize that average is okay and is just as great.
- Remain objective. If you’re like me, then your inner asshole can make you feel like shit the minute you slip up. Instead of buying into, practice getting curious. Maybe you messed up on something for work, and your automatic thought is, “I can never do anything right.” Question this. Is this truth, or am I just feeling disappointed? What are some things I have done right? Is beating myself up over this helping me in anyway?
Most importantly, remember, you are capable of achieving your goals and doing the hard things.