By Rachael Taylor
Perfectionism, something that too many of us know all too well. Perhaps you've been badgered for wanting things a certain way or that project you're working on doesn't seem just right yet. I've always thought that perfectionism was about wanting to do things correctly or following a specific organizational pattern to produce nearly similar results each time.
The actual dictionary definition (according to psychology) is "striving for flawlessness and setting high performance standards, accompanied by critical self-evaluations and concerns regarding others' evaluations."
Takes a hard left turn doesn't it? Turns out, perfectionism is actually your inner critic rearing its ugly head to bring up lies around why you're not good enough.
Did you know that there's a fast and simple way to neatly fold a fitted sheet? You probably just shouted "Yes!" but for whatever reason I've never been able to do it perfectly or to the standard that I believed it should be. To be honest I can never remember if the wings go on the inside and then get tucked together or if it's a gathering of all four corners or if you keep the wings outside and go across (if you have a magic solution feel free to leave it in the comments).
One day after spending about 20 minutes trying to fold said fitted sheet and I couldn't get it perfect, I realized that all of those possibilities are correct and perfect in someone's eyes! So why was I pursing perfection when it came to folding this sheet? I had folded it at least 10 different ways and it never looked good enough, when would I let it stop and believe it was good enough to be put away?
Nowadays I have a simple solution every time I go to fold a fitted sheet. I decluttered the closet so the size of sheet isn't an issue and I simply make the sheet smaller and stack it in the cupboard in all its haphazard glory. Did it bother me at first? Yes. I felt a twinge of guilt every time I looked at the sheet and would think "It's not that hard to fold it properly, what's wrong with you?"
But I found it was a good exercise in releasing some perfectionism and I started to notice that beating myself up for not folding a sheet properly was actually a reflection of how I felt about myself.
I believe that perfectionism and pursuing the idea of having everything be perfect before the world can see or experience something is a mask for a misbelief that "we aren't good enough to be, do or have something".
It boils down to this idea of criticizing ourselves for not being "x", for not being like someone or having something.
Perfectionism is a way to keep ourselves safe but stuck from sharing our natural gifts and talents in the way that we want to.
That "x" is specific to each and everyone one of us. For me it was a lack of confidence in my creativity. It was believing that I wasn't good enough to celebrate my art and I couldn't share it with the world because it would absolutely fail. That permeated throughout my entire life, thought process and actions and manifested itself as perfectionism.
I was initially terrified to write a blog. To share my thoughts with others and have people read my opinions and insights. Why? "Because what if it wasn't good enough?" of course!
The best thing I did last year was click "Save & Publish" on that first blog post. It's brought out a love of writing and creating that had been laying dormant in my mind for years. It brought back all these memories of all the papers I've edited for friends and family, the high grades I got in both AP English classes in high school and my love of learning about and sharing personal growth insights.
So now I'm turning it over to you: what in your life do you really want to do or have or be but your perfectionism or inner critic keeps jumping in front of the train every time you try to get it to leave the station?
- What is one thing that you could do today that would start to chip away at perfectionism?
- What would your life be like if you gave yourself permission to be, do or have that thing?
- What would become possible for you?
I encourage you to take some action around this and as you set out to do that, create some positive mantras to combat any misbeliefs that will pop up.
For instance, when you go to take action and your mind throws some negative thought about why it won't work, you say out loud a positive truth for why it will work. You can also write some down and stick them around the house or in your car to remind yourself of why you need to pursue that dream and bring it to life.
As always, if you need more insight or help in this area you can schedule a coaching session with me by clicking this link here. I'd love to read your comments below around what action you're taking and what it's going to do for your life.
Let your confidence grow! You have something special and unique to offer the world and learning to leverage your natural talents and passions is how you'll bring it to life.