If I could change one thing (without pain) what would it be?
I would love love love to not be a perfectionist. A life littered with self-defeating behaviours is exhausting not to mention the hurt it’s caused over the years. Having spent years trying to change perfectionistic behaviours I am so over it! Some things have been easy to change and they’ve brought relief and friendship. I’d like to learn to chill. Yep, that’s it just be able to chill out and not be anxiously trying to control the outcomes of everything in my life.
As children our father expected stardom from my brother and I. We were encouraged, nay goaded to reach for the moon. It didn’t matter how pleased we were with an 89% or (heaven forbid) a 70%, our father would want to know what happened to the missing marks. We never made it no matter how hard we tried. It didn’t take long before I became driven by the need to achieve highly so I wouldn’t be punished with my father’s silent disapproval. I can’t speak for my brother but I certainly became a people-pleaser which came with it’s own anxieties and miseries.
One of the paradoxes of my perfectionist behaviours is that I’m also a procrastinator because the drive to do the best job draws me into focussing on minute details. This burying my head in the small print often leads to missing the deadline completely or just never getting there at all. Research – absolutely love it. Ha! Getting the results into a review of literature – forget it! Uni assignments were the stuff of absolute nightmares as the midnight oil burned late into the early hours of many a morning.
The more I reflect on the cost of perfectionism the more I realise that to be free of it would bring so many benefits. No more feeling hurt because everything is internalised; criticism would be something I could actually reflect on rather than have it reduce me to a crumpled mess. Anxiety would no longer sit on my shoulders and I’d be able to shrug off the opinion of others, or even better, accept it.
A work in progress – like everyone else in the human race. The thought of throwing off perfectionism ‘painlessly’ is a wonderful myth but if you do find a way I want to know about it.