Thursday, December 9, 2010

Why I Kicked Perfectionism to the Curb (and why you should, too) Part 2

Hello, my name is Kat and I'm a recovering Perfectionist........

Sometimes I feel this is how I should introduce myself.... it would explain so much! I think many people, especially women and moms in particular, share the same struggle I do with Perfectionism. It's tough out there in "Mommy World". We put tremendous pressure on ourselves to be the PERFECT MOM. Many of us strive to be THAT MOM: beautiful, organized, with beautiful, well behaved, brilliant children, living happy, well-adjusted lives with everything going perfectly all the time....the very picture of  PERFECTION. Well, I have come to learn THAT MOM does NOT EXIST. I'm here to encourage you, to LIGHTEN UP on yourself. Quit comparing yourself to other moms and the fantasy of THAT MOM. Get a cup of coffee, sit down, spend 5 minutes reading this post and let me save you years of MISERY. Let me share with you how to recognize PERFECTIONISM and how to OVERCOME it.

In Part 1, we learned that Perfectionism, while not an addiction like alcoholism, is a powerful BELIEF. Perfectionists believe that perfection can and should be attained and that any work (or output) that isn't perfect is unacceptable.  We also learned that Perfectionism has both a positive and negative side. On the positive side, Perfectionism can be a driving force which enables people to overcome great obstacles and achieve their goals. Many top athletes, famous artists and people of great achievement have been known to have perfectionist tendencies. On the flip side, the negative aspects of Perfectionism are many and can be damaging: low self-esteem, difficulties in intimate relationships, depression and workaholism to name a few.. I'm here to tell you, THE NEGATIVE SIDE OF PERFECTIONISM FAR OUTWEIGHS ANY POSITIVE BENEFITS!!!!

Maybe you're not a full-blown Perfectionist like I was (I'm in recovery, remember?)  Maybe you just dabble in it once in awhile, just sticking your big toe in that murky and churning water every so often when the pressure of your life builds. No matter the level of your experience with Perfectionism, you need to recognize the signs of it, so you can stop before you find yourself drowning in self-loathing and anxiety. Here are a few questions to ask yourself. BE HONEST.

1) Do you feel like a failure if there are areas of your life which aren't perfect?
2) Do you feel extreme anxiety when you think you may have made a mistake?
3) Do you have a difficult time admitting you were wrong?
4) Are you overly critical of yourself?
5) Are you critical of others at times?
6) Do you find it difficult to take a compliment, or accolade?
7) Are you a workaholic? Do you put goals ahead of relationships?
8) Do you eat too much? (Due to anxiety/stress)
9) Do you eat too little?(Due to anxiety/stress)
10) Do you think you "could have done better" on a given task, even if it was done well?
11) Do you procrastinate at times because you want to be able to accomplish a task perfectly?

If you see yourself in the above questions, you may be struggling with Perfectionism and if you are, you know the pain it is causing in your life. However, there is HOPE. Recognizing it is the first step! Good for you! Now you can begin the process of RECOVERY. Trust me friend, I'm right there with you and you'll be so glad you did!
Okay, so what now?  How do we keep our Perfectionism in check? Here are some of the things that have helped me immensely in my struggle to stop using Perfectionism as a coping tool and start coping in a more healthy manner. I hope they'll help you, too!

1) Do my best, and Give God the rest--- All we can do is try our best. THAT'S IT. That is all that is required of us and all we can do. If you have given it your all, then turn the rest over to God. This leads us to our next step....

2) Turn it over to God and then LEAVE IT THERE. Don't pick it back up again. You've done your best, now LEAVE IT. Don't continue to obsess, worry and second-guess. Just know that you gave it your all and MOVE ON.

3) Be KIND to yourself. Would you ever treat a friend the way you treat yourself? Heck no! We are so good at encouraging others, but can't seem to do that for ourselves. You aren't perfect and that's okay, nobody is! Remind yourself of what you have accomplished, the blessings you have in your life, the people who love you. If you are as bad as you think you are, would you have so much GOOD in your life?

4) Accept failure. Now I'm the first one to say we should strive to do our best, and we should, but the reality is we are going to fail at times. It's OKAY. It's NORMAL. It's NOT THE END OF THE WORLD. Put it in perspective and LEARN FROM IT. Be the fist to admit it. Laugh about it if you can!

5) Don't take yourself and life TOO SERIOUSLY. Really, we need to lighten up on ourselves. If the house isn't perfect, the Christmas card photo isn't just right, if we make a mistake at work, what is the worst that can happen REALLY? People won't stop liking and loving you just because you made a mistake. In fact, when you're not acting so darn PERFECT all the time, they might be able to relate to you more!

I hope these posts on Perfectionism have been helpful to you. I struggled for so many years, and still do, but I'm here to tell you that you can overcome Perfectionism and lead a more fulfilled and joy-filled life! Sometimes it rears it's ugly head when you least expect it, but you can recognize it and decide NOT TO STAY there in that angst-ridden place. You can kick it to the curb in that moment, until you need to kick it to the curb next time! There is JOY in the Journey!

Thanks friends,

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