What is Perfectionism?
Perfectionism is a highly destructive personality trait. It is a skill like anything else which means you can learn it and unlearn it.
It is the incorrect assumption that if you don’t meet your own or other people’s expectations 100% then you are a failure.
What Does Perfectionism Look Like?
Let’s say you want to lose weight. So you decide to start an exercise program.
A perfectionist will probably overreach and set a really hard to accomplish goal like 7 days per week of exercise.
You might exercise for 6 of those days and miss one day.
If you are a perfectionist you will probably beat yourself up for missing a day.
Instead you should be celebrating because you completed 6 more days of exercise than you normally do.
So basically if you are overly critical of yourself and set unrealistic expectations… you are a perfectionist.
The Roots of Perfectionism
Typically when you were very young someone made you feel stupid or inadequate. There was something that made you strive for acceptance.
Now every kid will develop an ego or personality at a very young age. And this is to help us cope and survive in a scary new world after we are torn away form our home and thrown into a social environment… school.
Some kids become the class clown so everyone will like them, some become a bully so everyone will be too afraid to make fun of them. Others will become a shy introvert to try and ignore the perceived dangers around them.
The perfectionist will try to do everything right so that no one will ever have a reason to make fun of them or be mad at them.
All of these personality or ego personas are of course detrimental to your growth in life, happiness, and have the ability to hold you back from reaching fitness or athletic goals.
Manifestations of Perfectionism
You might stay late hours, or set higher expectations on your performance than your coworkers or boss expects. You might develop a superiority complex where you think you way is the best way or the only right way to do a certain task.
There is of course almost never a best way to do anything. Think of diets for example. There are more diets out there than you can list. And you know what? There are people who have lost weight on each one of them despite the fact that the author of the diet will tell you exactly why their diet is the only one that works.
The self-critic is quick to notice their own failures but slow to notice or doesn’t notice their successes.
Just like the fitness enthusiast who exercises for 6 days but missed one day and became critical of their 1 failure but overlooked their 6 victories.
The Critic of Others
A perfectionist who becomes develops a superiority complex will often mistreat others since they feel they are the only one who does thing the right way.
A perfectionist may also lash out at loved ones because of built up guilt and jealousy they are carrying around.
You know you are a self-destroyer if you do one of two things.
- You avoid going after your goals all together. This is due to a fear of failure.
- You do the exact opposite behaviors of what your goals would dictate. Such as binging on junk food when you would really like to have a lean toned body.
For the self-destroyer it is better to not try at all than to put in hard work and fail. After all if you fail then people will laugh, make fun of you, or think poorly of you right?
NO! And if anyone did then they suck, get them out of your life!
Steps to Overcome Perfectionism
- First admit your have a problem, own it, and commit to overcoming it
- Realize that perfectionism is an incorrect perspective on how life works. That people will like or accept you if you do everything right. It doesn’t work.
- Stop seeking the approval of others. What a miserable way to go through life.
- A support group might be of help.
- Watch YouTube videos every day to keep change in-sight-and-in-mind. Plus if you watch enough you will start to believe that you can change and you will get some tips that resonate with you.
- Try self-hypnosis. I download MP3s from hypnosisdownloads.com and they have worked very well to help me overcome perfectionism.
- You must catch yourself taking destructive behaviors, interrupt them, and replace them with something more positive. So if you are being self-critical, stop, replace the criticism with a compliment.
- Shoot for 90% quality. If you are a perfectionist then your 90% is still probably better than most people’s quality.
- If you are a workaholic then commit to leaving the office at least 30 – 60 minutes earlier every day.
Perfectionism can manifest in one or several destructive ways. But until you move past your perfectionism you will always be held back in life, never truly reaching your goals. Even worse, since you won’t acknowledge your achievements you never really get to celebrate and feel joy in life.
Let go of perfectionism and your life will feel so much more wonderful.
There is no criticism, only progress. Never perfect, but always better.
It takes time to change. Stay persistent and it will happen.
Until next time,