Your Views of Perfectionism and How They Affect Your Life
There’s nothing wrong with wanting things in your life just so, wanting things beautiful, wanting everything done right, and wanting to work hard to achieve great goals. However, there is no such thing as perfect, which is what so many people forget. You can’t have a perfect home or a perfect life or do a perfect job. Mistakes are made, flaws are present, and every day is not perfect. If your perfectionism is severe, it might have a negative effect on your mental health. Do you think your desire to have everything perfect all the time is hindering your ability to live a good life?
I know it did me. I truly think that’s one of the reasons I turned to alcohol. I was so tired of being in control, being the good one, being the perfect this and the perfect that. I used to joke how I knew which number strand of hair was out of place. I wore makeup from the time I was out of the shower until the time I went to bed. See me without makeup in public? I think not!
After I started drinking, I started caring less about being perfect. I cared more about the buzz, having fun, being funny, taking the edge off, and not caring so much about anything else.
Over the next several years, I actually felt free! Free from being perfect. Free from being upset about making mistakes. Free from caring what others thought if I said or did or looked the wrong way. As you can tell, I went from one extreme to the other. And, fast.
There really is a place in the middle that can be healthy with reality and perfectionism. And also reality and drunkism.
I have found that sweet spot! And you already know what I call it… Moxie! It’s that place where you know you’re okay if you’re not perfect and you know that you have the control back in your life being sober. Win, win! And, boy, does it feel good.
It’s also the place where you hold yourself accountable. You learn from your mistakes and your past. You learn that perfectionism is impossible. You learn that drunkism is impossible as well. Both can cause you to lose friends, jobs, relationships, mental health, freedom, creativity, and life itself. One can leave you an empty shell from all the worry, the other, six feet under.
High Standards and Reality
Set high standards for yourself in every area of your life. You don’t want low standards to live by, but you cannot set high standards and expect perfectionism from each of them. There will never be a perfect job or a perfect mate. You will never look perfect or behave perfectly, and nothing will ever perfectly happen. Set high standards, and learn how to re-evaluate them as needed to allow for small imperfections.
Pressure and Perfectionism
Your high standards are not your problem, but it’s your perception of reality that is a problem. If you believe you cannot go through life if things are not just so, done this way, or appear that way, you are putting too much pressure on yourself. For example, if you cannot leave your home without everything being put away and all things looking perfectly clean, you might put a lot of pressure on yourself if you’re already running late when you realize you need to clean up behind your kids.
Now you’re late for work, your kids are late for school, and what did you get out of this? A clean house is what you got, but is that worth the detention your kids must now attend or the reprimand your boss issued when you rushed into the office 10 minutes late for a meeting?
If you put pressure on yourself to achieve perfection, you’re going to get perfection. Unfortunately, you’re going to get perfection in only the area on which you’re focused. The rest of your life is going to fall apart.
Mental Health and Perfectionism
You’ll drive yourself crazy if you want things perfect and don’t allow any room for mistakes. You do want things to be perfect, and there’s nothing wrong with that. You must simply allow yourself to understand that there will be things that prevent perfection. Until you understand that, you might just suffer from depression, anxiety, stress, and even health issues that affect your physical body, your emotional health, and even the relationships you have with the people you love.
It’s not easy to give up the idea that perfection does exist, but you cannot live like this if you want to maintain a happy and well-balanced lifestyle. You cannot live this way if you want to be healthy. It’s time to face your fears and learn what makes you feel this way, fix the problem, and learn to talk yourself out of being perfect all the time.
I’m happy that hair strand 1,443 is out of place. I’m happy that I’m sitting here writing this in my workout clothes because I was too lazy to return to my work clothes for the rest of the day. I’m happy that I can laugh at myself for a silly mistake or a mispronounced word. I am happy that people accept me for who I am and how I present. Whether I’m in my badass corporate suit, or whether I’m in my jeans and a t-shirt.
Have high standards, please! It keeps us on our toes and doing our best. Just keep them in check and don’t let them get the best of you if something is not perfect. Life is full of imperfection. Once you start to love the imperfections, you start to love the whole-self and your heart will be yours. And to you…you will be perfect.
As I sit here at 1AM on the side of the bathtub, wide awake with a thousand thoughts going through my head, my What If’s start happening…
What if I don’t fall back to sleep?
What if I forgot to do something at work?
What if I forgot to turn off my electric blanket under my desk?
What if my clients don’t believe in me?
What if my business fails?
What if my big dreams fail?
I’m thankful that it is those types of what if challenges running through my brain instead of what used to…
What if I said something I don’t remember?
What if I got pulled over driving home?
What if I didn’t remember driving home?
What if I fell and broke something because oh my God that (insert body part here) hurts?
What if I screw up my job because my brain is so foggy?
What if I stop drinking? Will people still like me? Will I still be “funny”?
What if I screw up my marriage?
Nowadays, I’m usually fine by morning but this is what happens most nights these days. I don’t think it’s a bad thing, other than not being able to shut off the ol’ brain. Something I am working on with meditation and calming exercises. Transparently, I probably should cut out some of the caffeine and snacks too close to bed too, but I digress.
Implementing a newer tool to me, I’ve started getting out of bed and writing things down to get them out of my head. Otherwise, I feel a bit defeated in the morning because most times while I’ll remember the idea, I won’t remember all of the fun particulars and details that came about with the excitement of said idea.
This blog is one of those things that now sometimes happen when I sit and write emails to myself at 1:20 in the morning to make sure I get all out.
I know all about “no screens” once you’re in bed. Some have taken it so far as to not even have their screens in the bedroom. Kudos to them! I wouldn’t be able to get these thoughts out if I didn’t though. I definitely don’t want to turn on a light. I’d for certain, be up the rest of the night.
Getting the thoughts out these days is one of the most important tools I have in my toolbox. It just so happens some of the best ideas come in the dark of night. So…
What if I didn’t have my phone next to me to jot down quick notes? I probably would not have remembered so many details. Would that have been a bad thing? Nope. I’m sure something similar would have come pouring out of me in the light of day. Could I turn on a light and put pen to paper? Sure, but then I’d be up the rest of the night.
Do you live in a what if circle? Going round and round about things you have no control over? What do you do to combat that? Do you write out the different scenarios and their possible outcomes? Do you let it fester and drive you a little batty? Do you give it up to a higher power or shove it out into the universe and let it go?
What if’s can be detrimental to you and your mindset.
If you are working on having a better, more positive mindset, the what if conundrum can surely get in its way and possibly derail it all together.
This is why I truly believe having the right tools that work for you in your toolbox (mine is pink, of course), help you work through your what if’s.
Journal. Record. Talk them through with someone you trust. Don’t let them get the best of you. Have you noticed that most of the time the what if’s are far worse than the actual outcome? Be open to the fact that you just may not have control over the situation and trust that whatever the outcome may be is the path you are meant to be on. It may not seem like it at the time, especially if the outcome is the opposite of what you wanted to happen. It most likely will be a challenge to understand at the time. In hindsight we will see why it turned out the way it did. And we will hopefully see some positive circumstances that came of it.
That hindsight may also bring with it, regrets. We all have regrets to some degree. To me they are another form of what if’s. What if I said something different? What if I didn’t drink that night when I said mean things to the kids? What if I would have left the gym earlier, would I have gotten in that accident?
Let’s put a different spin on them. Are you able to look at your regrets in a different way?
What if I said something different? I didn’t, so I sit with what I said, understand where it was coming from, and I apologize to whomever it was that I hurt or offended. I take responsibility for that action.
What if I said mean things to the kids? I have apologized more than one or two times to all three of my bonus kids about my behavior and things that I said. I took ownership. I took accountability. No matter how hard that was for me, it brought them peace of mind to know that it wasn’t them and that I love them no matter what.
What if I left the gym earlier? There could have been another accident that may have happened that wouldn’t have turned out as minor. I could be far worse off than I am now.
Practice on your regrets to help you learn how to get through your what if’s of the future. You can’t change the past. You also can’t change what you can’t control in the future.
What if I don’t get the promotion? What if I didn’t work hard enough for it? What if it wasn’t the right time for me yet? What if there’s something I still need to work on? What if it just wasn’t mine to have?
What if no one reads this blog? What if I don’t fall back to sleep?
What if I just finish this tomorrow because my head is finally calming down and I can fall back to sleep? What if I hate this blog in the morning? (Puts phone away and goes blissfully back to sleep.)
And here I now sit, at 7PM Tuesday evening, finally getting back to this blog. And, I’m reworking a lot of it now that I have the light of day and clarity of mind. What if I don’t do my best work at 1AM…
What are your what ifs? Can you find a tool that works for you to sit with them and understand why they’ve hijacked your mind and your precious time? Are you able to take that tool and work through them, to push through the what if to either let it go or reconcile what happened and learn from it to move on?
My what ifs are so completely different even from three months ago let alone a year ago. They are evolving. And while they are evolving, so is my awareness about them and how I can sit with them and then work through them with clarity and gentleness for myself.
They are my new learning tool. They, too, reside in my toolbox.
“Wow. You’ve totally just unraveled my thinking process with that. What an interesting way to look at that. Now I’m excited to explore that possibility!”
YESSSSSSSSS!! Making things happen to provoke thoughts, realize dreams, and different ways of using the brain.
It occurred to me when my client said this during one of our sessions, that the word “unraveled” isn’t always a negative thing. Things unraveling, or coming apart, can lead to new beginnings, new ways to look at things, new connections coming together.
When something unravels, there are a million smaller particles that make up what was unraveled. When we see these in front of us, all these tiny pieces of what we thought to be true, we can begin to see the pieces that may not necessarily have been working for us, or what we thought was perfectly fine and good – really isn’t.
What happens when we separate these pieces that aren’t serving us? We can exam them and sit with them to understand that while they don’t serve us the way we thought they did, there is still a purpose to them. We can change our thinking and our understanding, and challenge ourselves to use this knowledge and turn it into a greater good for ourselves.
When we take the time and think about those things that don’t serve us the way we thought, and we use them to understand why we thought they did serve us, we can start to build new thinking patterns for our futures. We can now become aware of challenges that inevitably come to us that we automatically think something negative, “I can’t possibly do that,” “that’s too hard, I’ll never be able to complete that,” “what did I do to deserve this negative remark from this person,” “why can’t I not care about what others think of me.” The list can go on and on, right? We all have these automatic negative thoughts that can derail us from our dreams, from our purpose, from our love for ourselves, to what’s at hand right in front of us, whether that’s a relationship or work or a project.
When you can consciously unravel those thoughts and think about them, then you can think about WHY you think that and really start to understand what it is holding us back, fear. Fear of upsetting someone. Fear of someone forgetting who we are. Fear of doing something new and exciting that you may very well fail at, but should do anyway. Fear of hurting someone else. Fear of failed relationships.
Once you unravel and you figure out those tiny pieces and use them to challenge that negative thought process and challenge yourself to use it in a positive way, you CAN possibly do that, you CAN do that hard thing that you’ll be able to complete, YOU can understand the negative remark from that person is something THEY need to deal with, it’s not about you, you CAN absolutely not care what others think of you, you CAN leave a relationship that is not serving the individuals involved. Because… YOU will love you for who you are, and that your opinion of yourself and your abilities are enough. Because YOU have respect for yourself and other individuals involved in the unraveling, knowing that this will build something greater for them as well – IF they choose to do so for themselves.
What do you need to unravel, to examine, learn from, tear down and build back up into something better, more solid, or something entirely new? What dreams can you realize with different thinking patterns? What love can you allow yourself when you realize your opinion of yourself is the most important opinion? What moxie can come out of an unravel….it is limitless. Go start unraveling some things and let me know what you find. It just may be that one of those particles ends up being the diamond that shines bright on a whole new life adventure.
What does that word mean to you? Does it mean you failed? Does it mean you got slammed to the ground and now you can’t find the strength to stand? Or, does it mean a misstep, something temporary that pushed you around a little? Or, does it mean growth, a fire under the butt to prove you can get back up and try again?
I know we all feel defeat at some points in our lives. Some more than others. Some decide that they are not strong enough to get back up and stay in a state of defeat indefinitely. I see others take their defeat and throw it like a shot-put across a football field as far away from them as possible. Then, there are those few souls who take their defeat, look it straight in the eye, and make it feel its own defeat until it collapses and is no more.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve been through all three. I’ve been down and out for long periods of time until I decide enough is enough. I throw defeat as far away from me as possible and “hope” it doesn’t come back. And, I’ve now discovered I can stare defeat down and make it my bitch. Excuse the language, but sometimes a direct, not-so-fluffy response is necessary.
I’m in the midst of staring defeat down right now. I’m pushing hard. I’m learning every avenue I can to challenge the defeat and make it weak. Weak enough that it falls to the ground and melts into the earth. Leaving me with my head held high and a confidence to know how to push through tough times, tough thoughts, and tough situations.
Alcohol was like that for me for a very long time. I tried so hard to throw it as far away from me as I possibly could. I’d stand proud thinking I defeated it, that “this time” would be the time it wouldn’t come crawling back. I can’t tell you how many times I threw it away from me. But the last time, the last time I threw it, I didn’t have the energy to throw it far, and it kept me down for quite a long time. Long enough that my body suffered, my relationships suffered, my job started to suffer. I was suffering. Until I wasn’t.
I stood up one day. I stood up, looked defeat in its sad, ugly face and said no more. I challenged it all day every day. I learned how to defeat it by learning tools for when I felt weak and it was clamoring to climb back up and into my life. I learned how it affected my whole being internally and externally. I became strong, confident, empowered, and…I fell in love with ME. The most powerful gift I gave myself and the most powerful enemy of defeat.
It is true that there are times that we have to accept that we were wrong or beaten by another in some race or some project. That does not mean we are powerless to grow from that defeat and put it in its rightful place. It does not mean what you were trying to accomplish will never happen. It just may look a little (or a lot!) different than you originally planned. That, is not defeat.
I challenge you all to look at what you feel defeated within your life right now. Is it something easy that you can course correct and let it melt into the ground? Or is it something that you have been struggling with for a long time and know you need help and support to become strong again to look your defeat in the face and make it crumble? Are you ready to love yourself again, or maybe for the first time ever?
We all have it in us to conquer our defeat. If you need support or an advocate, let me be the first to say “how can I help?”