Change Your Mindset,  Healthy Lifestyle,  Mental Health

The Lie of Perfectionism

Photo by Scott Webb

I am a recovering perfectionist.

Not that I’m a perfectionist about everything. I’ve never really cared all that much about keeping my house perfectly clean or making sure my kids and I wear designer clothes and always have our hair done. (And I think people are amazing that do those things, by the way.)

But in writing and working, basically anything that I know will be seen and judged by other people, I tend to get paralyzed by having to make things perfect.

Here’s the problem with perfectionism (which I’m defining here as putting off doing things because you don’t feel like you have time or the skills to make them perfect or do them perfectly): it’s a lie.

When we suffer from perfectionism, we are believing that if we could only make something perfect enough (this blog post, for example), THEN we could send it out into the world, and no one would judge it and we would get people’s validation.

That is a lie.

And we know it, right? Logically I think all of us know it. We know that no matter how much we perfect something, someone will still read it or look at it and be like, “Meh.” But we’re still operating at a level where we act (or don’t act) out of perfectionism.

So here’s an exercise for you to try. Whatever you have perfectionism about, do more of it imperfectly. That’s what I’ve been doing with this blog. If you look at my archives, I had one post back in JUNE FREAKING 2017, and then NOTHING until this month. I was paralyzed by thoughts like, “I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m afraid of failing. What if nobody reads my posts or likes what I have to say? I feel like I can’t get across the message like it sounds in my head.” This month I decided to do 30 blog posts in 30 days (starting January 2nd and ending January 31st) to kind of desensitize myself and get out of my own head. It’s maybe not A+ work, but I’m learning to be okay with B- work, because the alternative keeps me stuck not doing ANYTHING. It’s kind of like exposure therapy for people with phobias: being exposed to the thing you’re afraid of helps you be less afraid of it over time.

So if you’re a perfectionist about something that you’ve been dreaming of doing, but fear of failure stops you, but remember that if you don’t try it and go for it, you’ll fail by default.

So let’s put out our best B work and stop obsessing, because not everyone is going to like what you put into the world, even if you feel like it’s perfect. And if you feel like you did your best, at least you know you have your own back.

What things have you been putting off, waiting to perfect them or for the perfect timing?

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