When Perfect Isn't Good Enough
It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect. Psalm 18:32
Hi! My name is Donalisa, and I am a perfectionist. Perfectionism is something I have battled with most of my life. However, at first glance, it looked like I was striving for excellence. I can recall when I was working on my doctoral degree, and I had to write a paper each week. My husband would sit down, type in a few quotes, and start writing around those quotes — me on the other hand. I would sit down and try to write. I would write a few sentences and find myself at a standstill. I would type another sentence, but it wouldn't be right. I would erase it and try again. See the problem was, I couldn't move forward until the sentence was perfect.
What is perfect?
It wasn't until I went through my coaching program that I discovered that what was masked as striving for excellence was in fact perfectionism. The line can get blurry. When you pursue excellence, you are determined to do something the best that you can with the resources that you have. However, perfectionism is fear-based, and it works one of two ways. It either feeds your obsessive fixation on doing something perfectly or it paralyzes you from acting at all.
I thought that my perfectionism manifested itself only when I was writing or creating content for Evolution U Coaching. What I have discovered about myself in the last few weeks is that my perfectionism is intertwined into every aspect of my life.
I was recently on a call with my coach, and we were working through some things for Evolution U when I discovered that I was afraid to step out and try some new ideas for fear that I would step out of God's perfect will for me. I was allowing my need to be perfect, to step out and do perfect things, stand in the way of my relationship with God.
While researching to write this, I also learned that my need for perfectionism had manifested itself into my eating habits. I get stressed trying to eat "perfect," and I struggle committing to a food protocol that works for me and my body. Instead, I am trying to incorporate everything and neglecting what works for me.
What fuels perfectionism?
Perfectionism is rooted in the desire for acceptance and fear of rejection. Perfectionism can manifest itself in many ways:
*being concerned what people will think of you
*fear of failure
*excuse to do something hard
How do you move past a perfectionist mindset?
Here are some strategies to help you:
1. Challenge your perfectionist beliefs: Take the opportunity to identify what is true and what isn’t by examining the evidence.
2. Challenge social comparison: Societal standards encourage perfectionism. The drive for perfection often leads to the habit of comparing yourself to others. When you find yourself comparing yourself to others, STOP!!! Ask yourself, how is comparing myself to others benefiting me at this moment? How is it hurting me? Remind yourself that it is your life and your journey.
3. Challenge your expectations: Lower your expectations. There is nothing wrong with lowering your expectations. It does not mean that you are settling for mediocrity. Human nature is to have an all or nothing mentality. It is either perfect, or it sucks. It isn't black and white. There are shades of gray in there as well. Allow yourself to start to see those. Brooke Castillo from the Life Coach School says to learn to do B+ work. The difference is with the B+ you get work done. When you strive for perfection, you often walk away with nothing.
4. Challenge your thoughts: One of my favorite quotes is, change your thoughts, change your life. This is so true. When your perfectionism starts to rear its head stop as ask yourself these questions:
What is the situation that is causing my perfectionism to come up?
What is my core thought about this?
How does this make me feel?
What do I do when I am feeling this way?
What is the core thought I want to have about this situation?
How do I want to feel about this situation?
What will happen when I feel that way?
Changing your thoughts will lead to a reduction in anxiety, depression, anger, and other negative feelings associated with perfectionism.
When you feel that perfectionist rear its ugly head, choose one of the strategies above and give it a try. Don't worry about executing the strategy perfectly. This is going to take time.
What does perfection mean to you?
Where in your life do you experience perfectionism?
What is fueling your perfectionism?
Which strategy will you try?
Make today amazing!
Do you always fall short of your personal standards? Do you struggle with perfectionism? As a perfectionist myself, I know how challenging it can be. I would love to help you release the perfectionist mindset and create a life that means something to you on your terms.
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