Have you ever discounted being a perfectionist?
Aside from working with perfectionists, I have often read articles on perfectionism, and felt it didn’t apply to me. The articles (or individuals), discuss projects or tasks, being avoided, never completed, every detail being checked over and over, or an unreasonably high level of expectation from others. Nothing that I felt connected to me. I do strive for excellence. Striving for perfectionism and the behaviours accompanying that? Not really. That is not to say it doesn’t show up occasionally, of course it does.
So what changed?
A few weeks ago I suddenly realised that all these years I have been a perfectionist, but in a different way. Not necessarily with tasks or actions, but when it comes to my behaviours, my values, and my mindset. What sat behind perfectionism in others, around tasks or more tangible goals, was the same for me, only this time it was around my behaviours and traits. I noticed there were lots of common threads. For example, here are three common themes of perfectionism, and what I noticed:
- There is a need to be recognised for achievement. Perfectionists need others to be impressed, and are eager to please.
Yes. Yes, and, definitely Yes!
Now, if someone told me I had made a mistake in my work, I would be annoyed with myself but I would move on relatively quickly. However, if someone commented on a behaviour of mine, or gave feedback on an area I felt weak in, that would be different. Or worse yet, if I felt a behaviour or trait of mine had led to that mistake, this would create a severe negative emotional reaction. Do I take it to heart? You bet. Do I have to subdue a strong defensive reaction due to my sensitivity? I think you know the answer.
Likewise, if I feel I have said or done something that would be less than perfect behaviour, I will play it over and over again, and berate myself. I can go back and remember things said from years ago. Especially if it is something I have wanted to change about me. It won’t matter if I succeed 99% of the time, in being the best person I want to be, the 1% is what I will focus on. Does it need to be a big thing? Heck no, the smallest thing is enough to cause me serious concern and upset.
- Perfectionists often feel that they have never got it quite right, they never feel deep down successful, or that they actually achieved their goal.
Absolutely. I spend so much energy reviewing, analysing, researching, tweaking, and implementing. I have made significant changes, yet I rarely feel I have succeeded. How can I when I want to attain 100%, and quickly?
Even trying to measure success is a challenge. There is no ‘Best Personality Traits and Behaviours Test’ to take, and get an A* on. Or a ‘Beep Test For Successful New Mindset Change’ in under 30 seconds!
- They are highly critical of themselves.
Oooo I could probably give myself an A* for this one! Shame, guilt, and fear. 100% thank you kindly.
Fortunately for me I am driven (stubborn?). I intensely dislike that my fears or limitations might hold me back, so I push myself more and more, to do ‘it’ anyway. I spend a lot of time outside of my comfort zone. I put myself in uncomfortable situations, including ones where the one main thing I want to avoid i.e. ‘being judged’ will happen. Unfortunately, that same drive makes me extremely judgmental of my limitations. What is interesting (in relation to perfectionism traits) is that I don’t measure others to my same levels of expectation. I am usually far kinder and understanding of others and far less judgmental, than I am of myself.
Well, for me, I am focusing on letting go.
Ah, the irony of being a perfectionist means I have a predisposition to judge myself on how well or quickly I have ‘let go’.
Perfectionism, but not as you know it?
Maybe it is something else. Whatever name we might give it, and wherever it shows up, there is usually a deep feeling of failure, or rejection, and a need to belong. There is often a hole that needs to be filled with love and self-worth. It hurts, it sucks, it’s hard. Let’s keep going together, maybe one day without measurement, for now I am working on accepting 90% and being okay with the 10%. What about you?
One Life.Your Life.Live It
Simona is a professional mindset coach, trainer, and speaker, working with motivated individuals to create successful, purposeful, and fulfilled lives.
The best way to know how coaching works is to try it! If you are ready to change something in your life, or want to make a big goal happen, apply for your complimentary session to talk to Simona here (limited spaces available). In the meantime, have an amazing day.