My perfectionism - Enemy or Ally?
I am a perfectionist". This phrase, accompanied by a self-deprecating smile, is often an attempt to justify a certain requirement or sometimes even to gain a little more time.
In their excessive quest for the ideal, perfectionists aim to achieve a form of excellence that is not always without consequences.
When can it be considered healthy or toxic? How can we free ourselves from the harmful behaviours it engenders?
Striving for perfection is chasing the unattainable. When we complete a task, it is the judgment we attribute to its achievement that determines its correctness. And there is nothing universal about the judgment here.
What we are looking for through the achievement of something "perfect" is to feel a certain way.
Perfection brings together feelings of balance, exactness, fullness...and it is that deep desire to intensely feel rightness that can be translated through perfectionism.
Finding the right word, the right song, the right colour, to create a moment of idyllic poetry that can fulfil a deep desire for intensity.
As an example, those with psychic over-excitability, especially creative or gifted people, express an innate need for precision, beauty, accuracy.
In this case, perfectionism is expressed through the motivation to create something beautiful. Every detail counts and enhances the feeling that the final result will generate.
Eg. Correcting, rewriting, finding the right words... to create a literary masterpiece.
Perfectionism therefore acts more as an ally that feeds an innate need that may manifest itself through an intense intellectual curiosity.
However, it can quickly become toxic when achieving standards of excellence becomes the only access to love and acceptance.
Although we are not born with unhealthy perfectionism, the harmful aspect of perfectionism is usually rooted in our childhood.
Eg. You were good at school, maybe even ahead of your peers at times.
Your parents and teachers praised you for your academic achievements, i.e. for your "intelligence" and you may have come to believe that love and acceptance depend on your success.
Later, you will feel obliged to be among the best, to "succeed" according to the standards you have unconsciously set.
These self-imposed behaviours often give way to procrastination mechanisms (if I don't do it = I can't fail) or trigger anxiety (what I do determines who I am = if what I do isn't perfect, I'm worthless).
These behaviours have been learned, but can be unlearned to develop healthier scenarios!
How can I do this?
Re-define your notion of success
Seek serenity rather than perfection. What really makes up your success? What do you want to feel?
What if it's the journey that's more important than the finish?
Draw wealth from imperfection
What did you learn from your mistakes? What skill did you develop through this project?
All-or-nothing strategies only increase the pressure you put on yourself.
Have you ever heard of the Japanese concept Wabi Sabi?
Challenge your negative self-talk:
What are you afraid of? What are you trying to protect yourself from? What do you need?
Report your beliefs and above all develop your self-esteem > Read my article to help you in this process.
Procrastination does not protect you from anything!
We understand that if you waited until the last minute you would be more lenient in judging the quality of your work, but that doesn't help you. You are only adding to the stress and limiting your abilities.
Break the task down into small steps and work your way up.
This is one of the things we work on in my individual coaching. Book a free 30 minute consultation to discuss this!