Today’s post is all about perfectionism. I have had my eyes opened a lot lately as I have attended therapy sessions with one of my children. Learning more about the positive and negative aspects of trying to be perfect has been so interesting. If you caught my post last Monday, Looking After Yourself, there was a link to a great website. I chose to work on perfectionism, module one this past week.
(Note, most of these words are taken from the module, some are summarized by me and are not quite word for word)
“There is a big difference between the healthy and helpful pursuit of excellence and the unhealthy and unhelpful striving for perfection.”
Definition of Perfectionism:
1-The relentless striving for extremely high standards (for you & others) that are personally demanding, in the context of the individual. (to an outsider the standards seem unreasonable)
2- Judging your self worth based largely on your ability to strive for and achieve such unrelenting standards.
3- Experiencing negative consequences of setting such demanding standards, yet continuing to go for them despite the huge cost to you.
“It’s generally a good idea to have high standards. Having goals helps you achieve things in life. BUT when these goals are either unachievable or only achievable at great cost, it makes it very difficult to feel good about yourself. This is where perfectionism can be problematic.”
“If you have set extremely high standards for yourself and you keep pushing yourself towards reaching them, what kind of pressure are you putting on yourself? It is likely that you would be constantly feeling on edge, tense, and stressed out….
What’s more, being a perfectionist is not just about doing your best but doing even better than before, and often pursuing a higher level of performance than you can reach, which leaves you feeling that even your best efforts aren’t enough. This excessive drive to excel is self-defeating as it leaves you little chance of meeting your goals and feeling good about yourself.”
Consequences of Perfectionism relating to the 3 parts of the definition:
1- You put way to much pressure on yourself which can lead to feeling on edge, tensed and stressed out.
2- When you judge your self worth based on your ability to achieve it can be like “Putting all your eggs in one basket”. It can “make you vunerable” as you reach for goals that are most likely unachieveable anyway. It can lead to feeling like a failure. It is important to not tie achievement to self worth. Thinking instead that it is okay to make mistakes, acknowledging that everyone makes mistakes is healthy.
3- There is an “enormous cost to be a perfectionist.” When you aim for perfect it can lead to:
“Social Isolation, frustration, worry, depression, eating disorders, relationship difficulties, obsessive-compulsive tendencies, repeated checking of work, excessive time to complete tasks, insomnia, procrastination, poor health, persistent sense of failure.”
Negatives of perfectionists:
Never have free time, achievement is never enough, Blame yourself, can’t stand it when others don’t do things your way, Don’t trust others to do the job, go over your work many times, have to do more and more to feel accepted of others, so afraid of failure that you never start a task or project.
In my crazy brain, I feel like it is kind of like the apples on my tree this year. Some of them look so perfect from the outside, but inside there is a worm that has eaten and damaged some of that fruit. Sometimes I feel like I need to put on a show. I want every one to think that I have my life together. When the reality is that I often feel so overwhelmed because I set these crazy goals that are impossible for me to achieve right now. And then I continue to think negative thoughts. Doing this module has been so great for me.
It was eye-opening at how my perfectionist tendencies carry over into how much pressure I put on my kids too. I don’t want them to feel like I hold them to unrealistic expectations.
It was also good to see where in the past few years I have actually overcome some of these behaviors. I still tend to feel so overwhelmed by what goals I set for myself, that I have days where I just can’t even start or many things only get half done because of my level of frustration with myself.
Having so many kids has helped with some things, but it has also made some of my tendencies worse. For example, I have a really, really hard time letting anyone else load my dishwasher. I really like it loaded just perfectly. And if I do let my kids or husband help, I often have to redo it before I start it. I am making progress on this though! Because the whole reason I need to let them help is because I can’t go everything! Right?
The best thing I have learned about doing this module is going through the list of negative behaviors that can be a consequence of this type of thinking. It is amazing to think that by fixing my thought pattern, I can also help decrease my worry, frustration, and self-defeating image of myself.
It seems at times there is a fine line between encouraging myself and family to achieve goals, and holding them to the crazy level of what is acceptable I have determined in my head. Some days I do better. Some days I know I don’t.
My thoughts about how I am not good enough often revolve around whether I got my house cleaned. Which when I have a baby, is really impossible for me. And when I think so many negative thoughts, I am even less productive, or have no desire to even start because I feel like my house is a hopeless mess.
So my goal this week is to try and recognize poor thought patterns. To stop them when I realize them, and replace them with positive thoughts, simple-realistic goals, praise for my child who is doing the task to their best. Learning to give yourself grace is so important.
I hope that you have enjoyed learning a little more about perfectionism. How to recognize these tendencies, and hopefully to set a few simple, realistic goals for the week. I want to be happy. I want to be pleased with myself, because I am a good person. I want my kids and husband to feel like I love them because of their innate worth, not whether they got their chores done, a good grade, or finished a project at work or home.
I hope this week that you will know you are loved because you are YOU! Your worth is not dependent on what you accomplish. You are a Child of God. You are of infinite worth.
Life is Good. Share the Good.
PS Leave a comment if you enjoyed reading a module on the webiste CCI