I see many clients who struggle with trying to be perfect. I was quite surprised by how often this theme came up. It seems to be fairly common - especially for smart, hard working people - and lots of women!
I struggled with perfectionism when I was in Grad school. I believed that I must get an A on everything - more realistically an A+ was expected at times. I pushed myself hard and I did get A's but it came at a price. I slowly burned out during Grad school and now I can see that I was much too hard on myself.
That's why I think it's important to talk about perfectionism and ways to prevent it.
I am all for ambition, doing your best and having goals. But perfectionist-thinking is in a different category all together. It involves setting UNrealistic expectations. These expectations likely evolved over time from social media, family members, educators, friends, society. But I can assure you that striving to be perfect is UNrealistic.
Do you know anyone who actually is perfect? I don't. Would you want to hang out with someone who is perfect (if that existed)? I wouldn't. That would make me feel uncomfortable.
What would perfect look like anyway? I always imagine a robot - something very mechanical and artificial, but not happy in any way.
Did you know that perfectionism is driven by anxiety? We're anxious about falling short, not measuring up, making mistakes, disappointing others. We focus on what we think is wrong with us or minor mistakes we've made or what someone else might think.
This type of thinking is unrealistic because we're only focusing on part of the whole picture - the negative part! It's like shining a flashlight on an area to your left and saying, "look at all those flaws." But not taking into consideration what is to your right - there lies all your strengths! They're there - maybe you're just not in the habit of acknowledging them.
So to overcome perfectionist-thinking, you can look at the whole picture. We all have strengths and weaknesses. Why not emphasize your strengths and do your best and that's good. If someone you cared about was doing their best wouldn't that be enough?
So here's to doing our best - yet that does not mean being perfect. And here's to feeling happier with who we are as a result.
"progress not perfection" - Marie Forleo
If you know someone who would benefit from what you've read here, please forward this blog to them or send them over to my website - thepsychologysite.org.
If you like what you're reading here, sign up for my free monthly Newsletter here
Hi! I'm Beth Matthews. I'm a Registered Psychologist who is driven to helping people feel better about themselves. I help people who are struggling in their lives gain an awareness of how they can cope with anything that comes their way. With my easy-to-use strategies, you can feel better and be your best you!