How to Let Go of the Need to be Perfect
"Perfectionism is self-destructive simply because there is no such thing as perfect. Perfection is an unattainable goal. Additionally, perfection is more about perception-we want to be perceived as perfect. Again, this is unattainable- there is no way to control perception, regardless of how much time and energy we spend trying." Brene Brown
Do you find yourself asking, "when will I ever be good enough?". You wonder, "am I truly happy or am I settling?" You realize you are trying to strive for more, whether it's more money, more brains, more beauty, more stuff, more awards. But no matter how much you obtain, no matter how much you achieve, you still feel as if none of it is good enough. You feel as if you are striving for your best self, when you are really driving deeper and deeper into the role of perfectionism. A very dissatisfying one at that.
I know this role all too well. I still catch myself making my way down the old habits road. They come out the most when I am trying to make a serious decision, working, or interacting with others.
Perfectionism is that feeling you get when you expect things of yourself that typically you wouldn't expect from others. It's working yourself (and your mind) to exhaustion with the hopes of feeling good about yourself, feeling whole, and worthy. It's about basing your life around external factors. Your own self-worth. As if there is something to prove at all times. What comes with all those expectations? Burnout. Guilt. Shame. Self-hate. Resentment.
The need to be perfect is about coloring inside the lines and when you screw up, you punish yourself for messing up.
What if I told you that perfectionism lives in fear of making a mistake? When you are afraid of messing up, you keep yourself from growing. You keep yourself from all things possible for YOU. Instead, we struggle to live in the comfort zone with the hopes of never messing up. Simply because we can't handle that mess up. What it looks like. What it feels like. So, we avoid it all together.
Guess what? Feeling this way makes sense. Our society creates these ideas that everyone must be perfect, look perfect, and act perfect. Take social media as an example, we are perceived to believe that everyone's lives on there is just perfect. Their bodies are perfect. Their makeup is perfect. Their financial situation is perfect. Their relationships are perfect. The list goes on and on. In the midst of all of this, we forget who we truly are and what makes us unique. We forget about what in our lives we should be grateful for, rather than the enemy of comparison.
You are probably wondering, okay so I admit, I am a perfectionist, but what am I doing wrong? What can I do differently? Why can't I get to a better place?
We must start with goals. If we don't have them, we stay in the viscous hamster wheel of fear. How can we feel good about ourselves when the perception of ourselves isn't good enough? That can be hard to build a strong sense of self when we feel that way. We have no idea who we are or what we truly want.
Perfectionism can stay alive if we allow others to determine our self-worth. The need for approval, as well as the acceptance from anyone and everyone we come to contact with. You will end up on a long road of inevitably feeling never good enough and spending life wanting more and more.
Talk about exhausting.
I want to offer you an alternative way of thinking. To be fulfilled in your accomplishments. To live in an attitude of gratitude. The more you practice, the better you get and the more a situation arises, you will be better at tackling. This will bring you closer to freedom. Closer to peace from needing to be perfect.
How Did I Let Go of the Need to Be Perfect?
1. Change narrative
Our mindset is made up of ideas and perceptions of past experiences in our own lives. It causes us to see the world and see situations in a different light. When we have a certain mindset for so long, we tend to think that's how it will always be. Wrong. We must change what we tell ourselves enough to believe it. To change our narrative. To go from needing to be perfect, to accepting good enough.
2. Build self-reliance
We go through life building our own self-reliance. We aren't born with it. Trials and tribulations help build it. I started to build my own confidence when I was able to start making my own decisions. Decisions that were based on what I can do right now. Small changes that later became acceptable to my perfectionist ideal as okay. When you are in line with your values and what you believe in, your self-esteem and self-worth grow. This is what wellness is about. Something I touch heavily on as a coach. The better you truly feel about yourself, the less you feel the need to be perfect.
3. Learn to let go
Dig into whatever it is you think is holding you back from moving on. From becoming the best version of you. You aren't what people say you are. You aren't your past, pain, or mistakes. It's negative ideas about ourselves that form this image of who we think we are. We get wrapped up into our own heads that it keeps us from achieving goals or dreams. It keeps us from building meaningful relationships. Or letting go of the ones that no longer serve us.
4. Make my own decisions
Make your own decisions without feeling the need to share anxieties or situations about your life to anyone and everyone willing to listen. People do this to get advice or be told on what they need to do. This allows us not to look within ourselves on what is best for us. Others don't know what is best for us. We do. As long as we are willing to look within ourselves and our higher power to make the best decision right now.
5. Make peace with now
In order to feel satisfied with where we are going, we must accept, acknowledge, and appreciate where we are right now. Make peace with where we are, instead of where we think (or others think) we should be. Our journey to what is better for us will feel much more rewarding and peaceful.
Give yourself the pat on the back you deserve. Celebrate the small wins. Progress not perfection.
Wife//Mom//Nutrition Educator//Holistic Health Coach