As a therapist I see so many people, especially women, who struggle with perfectionism. Perfectionism is defined as refusal to accept any standard short of perfection. Perfectionism is a crippling issue for so many and often results in what I call the 4 Ps: procrastination, perseveration, predictability, and paralysis.
Procrastination often looks like laziness but in all honesty, it’s usually fear. So many times we fear being seen and even worse, being seen as not enough and so we just put it off. While it can feel good to ignore your responsibilities for a while, procrastination often creates feelings of anxiety and guilt that then feed into our feelings of inadequacy and encourage us to continue to procrastinate. It’s an ugly cycle.
Perseveration is the repetition of a particular response. In this case, it’s a fancy word for obsession. When we struggle with perfectionism we can become obsessed with the details and that can keep us stuck. You may find yourself focusing on one point, one phrase, one idea and feeling that you can’t move forward until you’ve addressed this one issue. Therefore, you never move forward and again the feelings of inadequacy begin to creep in.
Predictability refers to the fear of stepping outside of what you already do well in order to try something new. We find safety in what we’re good at and sometimes we can become too comfortable in that space. We may want to try something new, pitch a new idea, even ask someone out on a date but the idea of being different can be too overwhelming and so we don’t try. Unfortunately, the box we place ourselves can quickly change from a safe space to a prison. We can feel limited and depressed because we know we’re not reaching our full potential.
Paralysis is the inability to move forward because of your fear of not being perfect. I encounter so many clients who have great ideas that never see the light of day because they’re afraid to even share their ideas out loud. Paralysis often results in feelings of guilt, anxiety and sometimes depression because people feel inadequate. Just because we’re not moving forward on an idea doesn’t mean we don’t continue to think about it. Continually thinking about a dream or goal that we are too afraid to pursue can seriously undermine our mental health.
So what do we do? Perfectionism is a real issue but perfection is not a real goal. The belief that we NEED to be perfect in order to be WORTHY is the biggest lie we will ever tell ourselves. Our imperfections make us strong and beautiful and relatable. As a parent, I follow a lot of mommy blogs and IG pages and I’ve noticed a recurring them. We’re all doing our best and yet we all fall short. I don’t judge them for not being perfect, so why do I judge myself?
So the nagging pressure to be perfect will continue to come; let it. When we begin to feel the anxiety and fear of not being perfect we have to allow ourselves the space to acknowledge the fear, but not enough space to allow the fear to overcome us. Having people in your life that push and encourage you are important. Challenge yourself to share your dreams with your tribe so they can build you up and remind you that you are worthy. Our ideas are a gift and we wouldn’t have the gift if we weren’t meant to use it. In the words of Voltaire, “the perfect is the enemy of the good” and your good is enough.
Live Out Loud!!!