Let me preface this post by saying that I have never been diagnosed by a licensed doctor or clinical therapist as having, or being, a “perfectionist”. This post is not intended to offend anyone or negate the clinical research, data or feelings of those who have been “officially” diagnosed as a perfectionist. It’s simply to serve as an eye opener and therapeutic writing session – after all, I view my blog as a personal and open diary with the hopes that it may help and/or inspire someone along the way.
This weekend I took the DISC Test – a personality assessment and predictor of how you operate in work, life and business. My highest score (99/100) was for the C (Cautious) behavior component. The #1 trait for “High C’s” is perfectionism. At first, I was a little taken aback. Soon after that the thoughts of, “Huh? No… That can’t be right” followed. Then I really reflected on this and looked up the definition of perfectionism.
So, What Is Perfectionism?
Perfectionism is the “relentless striving for extremely high standards (for yourself and/or others) that are personally demanding”. Sounds like a good thing right? So, I can set really high goals for myself, cool. But not so fast––it’s also the act of, “judging your self worth based largely on your ability to strive for and achieve such unrelenting standards” and “experiencing negative consequences of setting such demanding standards, yet continuing to go for them despite the huge cost to you.”
They say that there’s two kinds of perfectionists, “good” and “bad”. I prefer not to view it through those lenses though––I would describe them as two ways to leverage your natural tendencies in order to strive for great things. But, for the sake of this post, I’ll explain the two. “Good” perfectionism is when you insist on giving your goals your best effort––you set high personal standards for yourself which inspires you to work towards these goals in a pro-active manner! “Bad” perfectionism is when you are constantly worried about making mistakes, letting others down or not being able to measure up to your own impossibly high standards. They also say that “bad” perfectionists may suffer from procrastination––failing to ever start on their lofty goals because the fear of not being able to achieve them is too crippling to handle.
As I kept reading and researching I thought, huh… both of those “types” of perfectionists sound like me. It’s interesting because it actually rejigged my memory of when some of my friends and close people in my life have commented on me being a “perfectionist”. I never took it seriously, just thought that it was a coin term that people use. But then I went even deeper and more introspective––I realized that, oh crap, I am my own worst critic.
Here are some ways that I’ve identified perfectionism creeping into my life and how I’m going to be working on them.
Being Extremely Hard On Myself.
What Is It: UGH, majorly! I’m my own worst critic. As I get older, I’m becoming more and more aware of this. But, for awhile, I never realized all of the ways that I wasn’t giving myself enough credit. Graduating college and earning degree was less than exciting to me. Yippee, a piece of paper I thought. Moving out and financially supporting myself at the age of 22? Didn’t ever cross my mind to be proud of where I’m at because it’s not good enough, and there’s so much more that I should be doing. It’s crazy how the mind works when you really sit back and analyze it.
How I’m Working On It: GRATITUDE JOURNAL! I can’t explain how much this has changed my life. Every morning I write five things that I’m grateful for. It could be as small as making my bed or as large as “I am grateful for being able to financially support myself”. Identifying and writing down the small wins makes it SO much easier to feel proud of yourself + realize all the blessings that you have in your life!
Relationships – Unrealistically High Standards
What Is It: It’s said that perfectionist may run into trouble in their relationships because they have unrealistically high standards of their partners. So true. The reason being that they expect highly from their significant others ONLY because they expect even higher amounts of “perfection” from themselves. This may leave their partner feeling like they’re “never good enough” or “nothing’s ever right”.
Me and Billy have definitely run into this – I was so unaware of the completely unrealistic expectations I had of him. Don’t get me wrong, we have an extremely fulfilling relationship. But like, dude it’s okay if he doesn’t clean up after himself RIGHT after doing something. LOL! For instance, he sleeps with ear plugs in because we live in the city and it’s loud. So normal. I would religiously throw them out because I couldn’t stand the way they looked on our nightstand. He would get frustrated because he could never find them, lol poor guy! But I would get frustrated because I couldn’t understand the fact that he, just like any other person of the male gender, left his things laying around. I know this is such a minor example, but I wanted to paint an “everyday” example of how unrealistic expectations of others is something that I need to overcome.
How I’m Working On It: 3 SECOND RULE. I think to myself for three seconds, “is this really a big deal?!” if not, let it go! Not every little thing needs to be commented on or nit-picked.
The Comparison Game
What Is It: Growing up in an era where we get a birds eye view into people’s constructed lives is HARD! We get caught up in the screen and scrolling game, peering into everyone’s lives and comparing how ours stacks up against theirs. SO DANGEROUS, and hard to avoid. But we all do it to a certain extent.
How I’m Working On It: GET SOME HEADSPACE. Ever feel like your falling into the trap of comparing yourself against someone else’s life on social media? This leaves you feeling like yours isn’t good enough. Turn off the screen, put down the phone and go connect with something that you love doing. For me, that’s reading or going for a walk outside. I love reconnecting with nature, it keeps me grounded.
Being Afraid of Failure
What Is It: When I reflect on my high school days, I look back and realize that I didn’t really… do much. I wasn’t on any sports teams (like one freshman year lacrosse team), was in maybe 1 or 2 clubs. And when I really sit and think why… it’s not because I was lazy. It’s because I was afraid to put myself out there and step into fear and own something. I truly never thought that I was good enough (or worthy enough).
How I’m Working On It: PUSHING THROUGH FEAR. You know, that sweaty palm, heart racing moment. Yeah, those happen to me a lot! Even speaking up in a crowded room makes me nervous––I’m so scared to say the wrong with or speak up. But I’m learning to step into that fear and trying to let go of it. Because after all, if we don’t contribute our ideas the world may never know what we have to offer.
This is a vulnerable post, but this is my life. My goal is to always keep it REAL and authentic. Each and every one of us has struggles, I’m making it my mission to share both the GOOD and the BAD!