The Awkward Confessions Of A Relentless Perfectionist

/The Awkward Confessions Of A Relentless Perfectionist

PerfectionistMake mistakes?

Me? What? No! Never!

Because that would mean that I might’ve been wrong about something.

And that just doesn’t happen…no seriously…it doesn’t!

Although…there was that little incident yesterday…

And there was that time when…

And…well…actually there were loads of times…

“Crap…”

And just so you know, I seriously don’t care about things like forgetting to pay taxes, getting lost or even accidentally dying my hair bright orange like I did a few weeks ago…those types of mistakes slide from my mind like dates used to do in history class.

No, it’s those ‘human’ mistakes that truly get to me…where I have, or I might have, wronged or hurt another person with something I said or did.

Like making a mistake in conversation with a friend over Facebook chat on a serious topic while I was also doing work, dealing with summer heat and still a bit riled up from an earlier discussion.

And that made that friend doubt my good intentions…

Holy shit, that’s just like plunging a knife through my heart!

And it’s not like I indeed meant badly, and when said in a face to face situation, everything I said might’ve actually made sense as it was only meant to highlight the fact that he shared some of the same blind spots as he’d earlier pointed out to me…

But the thing is, I didn’t pay close enough attention and made a mistake.

And it’s not only that I did not want to hurt my friend or that I want him to doubt my intentions. That goes without saying…

It’s the fact that I think I should’ve known and could’ve done better.

It’s the fact that I think that the fact I made a mistake like that, and it wasn’t even that big of a deal, makes me a bad person.

SPerfectionisteriously Mussolini bad!

And the negativity of that sticks on me like white on rice…

It makes my insides swirl into this little silent tornado of self doubt and fears for being a secret sociopath. And of course there’s ample supply of shame and guilt…though that automatically rules out the sociopath theory which is nice…

Through years of training (meaning, years of making mistakes) I’m now able to just sit with these little tornados; let these emotions wash over me without washing me away and then let myself be okay with myself again in a relatively short time.

But it’s not a happy state of being and worth investigating every time you stumble over it.

And what I realised, yet again, is that I’m a human perfectionist.

As in, I want to be the perfect human being.

Yes…Dalai Lama perfect…but sassier and sexier…(though he is pretty sassy to be honest)

“Hi, my name is Linda, and I want to be perfect”

“Hiii Linda”

“Yeah yeah…”

And not only is this perfectionism utterly useless (because we human beings are per definition imperfect) it’s also quite self-destructive and a total buzzkill…

Basically, it’s an infinite circle of shit.

And just like with obsessions over outer appearances, this obsession with inner perfection has absolutely nothing to do with anything or anyone outside of yourself.

Though you might think, sorry, though I might think, that being perfect will give me more likes, and acceptance and value in the world and ultimately, more love (because it all comes down to love doesn’t it?), that’s just not true.

Instead, people will think you’re annoying and unauthentic…which is the opposite of what you’re achieving.

And I would love to blame the rest of the world for pushing the need for perfection on by idolising success and beauty and despising mistakes and failure in general. But over the years, I’ve learned enough about the world and myself to know that there’s no one to blame for what I’m feeling than myself.

So I continued my inner quest for the cause of my perfectionism.

And it hit me during my yoga practice this morning (I’ve actually written the first draft of this post in a half baby pose on my phone and then didn’t finish the practice…): this perfectionism really stems from me not accepting myself.

PerfectionistBleeh, really? Haven’t I been working on this for the past 8 years now?

Well, yes, but apparently there’s still some more work to do…

The personal growth work I’ve done has been far from wasted of course…this is not my life (anymore), they are bumps in the road and I’m seriously cool with myself, what I do and who I am most of the time.

But it’s a simple fact that this little monster keeps popping up no matter what I do or where I go. And that simply means there’s still something in myself that I’ve not yet fully accepted/embraced/loved.

And that little thing is the fact that I don’t think I’m good enough.

“Hiii Linda”

“Shut up”

So I work a little harder, and push myself a little further and go beyond comfort zones like a madwoman. And feel guilty and crappy when I mess up and don’t live up to my own expectations.

It’s what I do. And have done for as long as I can remember. And it’s what I’ve gained a lot of awareness on over the years and though I’m at a point in my life where I realise in both head and heart that me not being good enough is utter nonsense, it does hurt me all the more the moment I bump in to it again.

And I would love to read an article that tells me 32 incredible ways of getting over your perfectionism and instantly be able to let go and accept myself for the wonderful creature that I am (and I am!). I would love it if that were possible.

But it’s not, of course it’s not. This is a pattern that has it’s roots wrapped all around my inner core and the only way I can loosen the roots and perhaps one day bid them farewell is by:

  1. Acknowledging that they are there ALL the time, not just when they show themselves.
  2. Use my ’tools’ (yoga, meditation, vision mapping, hiking, blank stares into the distance, writing, travelling and talking to a close friend, coach or therapist) so I can stay close to myself and limit the number of times I shoot into extremes.
  3. Remain aware of the fact that I am highly sensitive to inner and outer turmoil and take things a little (or a lot…) too seriously sometimes.
  4. Know what behaviour is related to the perfectionist pattern and recognise it the moment it pops up.
  5. Own up to the behaviour when it’s there (even when that means admitting mistakes…).
  6. Use the ‘tools’ again to get back to myself when I drifted off course.
  7. And learn, learn, learn from every bump, and every awkward interaction I come across.

 

This truly is the journey of a lifetime. And I know I’m getting better at this…just the fact that I’m able to put all this in writing and share it for everyone to see is a huge difference from what I used to be able to do just a few years (and maybe even months) ago.

There’s no shame in our mistakes. That’s all in our heads.

So why not look them (ourselves) in the eye and face them with everything we’ve got?

2016-11-21T15:51:52+00:00

6 Comments

  1. Mark Tong July 2, 2015 at 8:12 PM - Reply

    Hi Linda – lovely post very honest. You mention the Dalai Lama – there are two quotes that aren’t shared that much –

    “The purpose of our lives is to be happy.” — Dalai Lama

    “People are too serious. All the time, too serious.” — Dalai Lama

    When you’re having fun and happy perfectionism can’t get hold I find.

    • Linda July 2, 2015 at 9:31 PM - Reply

      Oh I like those quotes Mark (but then again, I love everything the Dalai Lama says ;))
      And you’re right, perfectionism, or at least the accompanying anxiety, can’t get hold of you when you’re truly happy.
      But happiness isn’t always ‘just around the corner’. So, for me, being aware of my own pitfalls, knowing how take responsibility for them and how to navigate back into the right direction is already a huge step in the direction happiness in those times I take myself a little too seriously.

  2. brucebrownnc July 3, 2015 at 12:08 PM - Reply

    Linda –

    Holy crap? You mean you’re human? Are you sure you’re not the second Coming or the Devil incarnate? Really? Is that OK? Well then what? How can it matter/make a difference/be true/even count?

    The greatest value I find in meditation is it helps me to stop all the negative, confusing self talk in my head. I do not choose to spend too much time listening to crazy people.

    Thinking, knowing, understanding, those three bastions of my first decades were essential but overrated. Feeling, “getting” – as in, knowing on a species and spiritual level, and trusting the inner divine and the connection to the greater divine (whateverthefuckthatis), that’s what matters.

    I don’t pretend to understand other species, it’s enough to figure out how to survive, maybe help, maybe make it a little better for my own, but one aspect I think sets us apart is our ability to consciously start over.

    Adults appear to have a need, even internally, to “get it right”. The truth of the learning process of babies, infants, and toddlers, is they don’t focus on whether they’re getting it right or if they didn’t, they keep focus on trying and trying and falling down and trying again without hesitation until they do get it right. And then they practice in joy. Till they look around and discover something new to learn. So here’s to our inner children!

    Isn’t this whole thing fun?

    Warmest regards,

    Bruce

    • Linda July 3, 2015 at 1:58 PM - Reply

      Hey Bruce,

      you’d think Daddy Devil would’ve contacted me by now if I was indeed it’s spawn…so the hypothesis still remains that I’m indeed a human being. Which is both fun as you say and terribly dreadful at other times…though that in itself is actually a lot of fun 🙂

      It’s been mind over body the first 30 years too for me and it keeps popping up on occasion. I feel there’s so much pressure on us people to indeed do it exactly right that I’ve made it my mission to show that we’re not…and that we can’t be…and that that is totally okay!

      Thanks for your comment; made my morning a lot brighter!

      Linda

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