“One who fears failure limits his activities”Henry Ford
Jeepers the amount of pressure we put on ourselves to do well and at such a high standard can be detrimental to our wellbeing. Especially in todays world with social media and people competing with each other. Failing is part of the learning process, but when you’re a perfectionist it is so hard to view that outlook on life. Making mistakes really is part of being human. How do you go easier on yourself you may think? Try to be kind with your self-talk and become more aware of how you criticise yourself. This will help steer you in the right direction i.e, silencing your inner critic and loving who you are with all your flaws (heck we all have them)
When I’ve been too hard on myself
Back when I was studying for my degree and coming up to assignment deadlines; I would chop and change my work so feckin much. My goodness it was never ending at the start of my studies, then procrastination would kick in big time. How did procrastination show up? I would always go on a mad cleaning spree before eventually hitting that submit button.
Procrastination was in full force, my self-esteem would take a blow like nobody’s business and the stress levels were raised. Why was I feeling this way? It was fear of failing or doing absolutely rubbish. I would get flustered, feel irritable and my head would be swimming with self-doubt.
However, there are times where perfectionism can be seen as a positive. Oh yes, it can make you one determined so and so and a very motivated and disciplined one at that. But, the overall effects on your health could cause a number of problems such as headaches, binge eating, anxiety and stress to name a few. It’s about being mindful, self-aware and kind with your self-talk.
A meta-analysis study from Thomas Curran and Andrew Hill from 1989-2016 on college students, found that perfectionism had increased over this time due to the young individual’s living in an environment where the pressure of doing well was so high and with many also suffering from anxiety and depression. Also, the study showed how parents are more controlling than generations before. This is no surprise with social media now being a big part of our lives where the perfect life is shown on this platform every single day.
How can you find that right balance?
Perfectionism and being confident with your work (while still working hard at something) are two very different things. When you are confident you can do a good job when you work hard, believe in yourself and don’t overthink things to the point of disaster: but you are being kind with your self-talk. You are happy with what you produce. If it doesn’t go as planned then you learn and grow. It’s ok to make mistakes. That’s how you learn and do better.
Learn from your mistakes and take it as feedback for future assignments, work projects, training sessions or whatever you need to improve on. I’m at a stage in my life where I’m not extremely hard on myself when it comes to areas in my life that requires improving. I ask for feedback, learn, take courses and believe in myself so to be the best person, parent and coach.
When you’re a perfectionist it never feels good enough and you’re so hard on yourself to the point of raising those stress levels.
Changing your core beliefs for a more positive outlook
Changing your core beliefs from a negative to a more positive view of yourself can help with perfectionism – as you are being kinder with your self-talk. A core belief is an idea/belief you have about yourself and the world around you. It is deeply rooted and what you firmly believe from your early childhood and how you were raised.
Here are 2 examples of what a core belief would look like and how you can change the narrative:
“I’m no good at this and never will be. I will fail”
Change your inner dialogue to:
“How can I improve on this? Do I read more, take courses or ask for feedback/advice?”
“I can’t say how I’m really feeling for fear of hurting someone”
Change your inner dialogue to
““I will take a few deep breaths and it’s ok to say how I’m feeling. I know holding it in can feel worse”
Maybe you are a person that wants everything to just be perfect. Chopping and changing what you’ve written over and over again as that little seed of doubt lingers and those weeds start to sprout big time. Maybe you please everyone to seem like this perfect friend, person? (when deep down you are struggling and ignoring how you really feel). You are an all or nothing type of person.
Trying to be perfect at everything can be exhausting. There really is no such thing as that word perfect.
Changing your core beliefs can make your self-talk that little bit kinder as you are giving yourself the permission and a chance to learn and grow. Helping you along that path of believing in yourself and your worth. Boosting your confidence and self-esteem. You are changing the negative thought pattern to a more positive outlook. The more you practice changing the narrative, by being aware of your negative thoughts, then it will become easier over time. It does take time, but you will get there, when you work on yourself.
Believe in yourself. Remember, nobody is perfect. Fact.
If perfectionism is taking over your life and you are really struggling, then a mentor, coach or a therapist who specialises in ***CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) can really help to give you those tools and to look at things from a completely different perspective.
*** Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is a form of therapy that uses problem solving skills to change thinking patterns and focuses on an individual’s present situation; so to move forward in their life and to help cope with difficult situations.
Are you a perfectionist?
Do share how perfectionism takes control of your life and what helps you?
4 replies on “Why perfectionism can be exhausting. Getting that balance right and changing your core beliefs!”
Wonderful article Bernie. Very much a matter of having a growth mindset as you rightly advise. Another mantra I like to tell myself: “done is better than perfect.” Sometimes the thing we pull out of our arse is better appreciated than the thing we slaved over. Quality is subjective. Get it done. Learn from it. Move on. Wishing you well Bernie. Thanks for the post 🙏
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Thank you AP2 for your lovely comments as always! Growth mindset all the way. My goodness, to think what we were like before being self-aware. I like that mantra “done is better than perfect”, oh indeed it is 🙏
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I tell myself I’m not a perfectionist, but I always wait for all the stars to align before setting off to do something. That’s a tendency I’m trying to get over. Even with my writing, it’s hard to shirk the idea of a perfect piece. Thanks for your reminder though. I need to prioritise action over perfection!
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Oh yes action over perfection Stuart and not dwelling too much. I tend to procrastinate otherwise and doubt myself. I try to just plough on with things and go with my gut. Thank you Stuart for your lovely comments 🙂