Most of us probably have had an encounter with perfectionism at one time or another. It starts out innocently. Most of us have been told we have to be the best in order to succeed. So, what could be wrong with being the best?
Sometimes we are rewarded for these actions with success, so we continue running on the hamster wheel in the pursuit of perfectionism.
Rather than living out of our true self with realistic goals and satisfaction within the imperfect, we can begin to confuse imperfect with “not enough.” They are not the same.
Imperfection is human and is fine. “Not enough” is an endless cycle of striving, exhaustion, and frustration. We tell ourselves that if we can just be or do something perfectly we will be enough…and fulfilled. When perfectionism is unsuccessful, anxiety, depression and sometimes shame often result. Additional losses might include joy and relationships.
How do we manage?
The short answer is that we seek truth and balance, but specific coping strategies can be more helpful. Below are some useful strategies, most of which are from the book When Perfect isn’t Good Enough.
- Identify the gaps between best standards and reality. Relaxing standards by even a little bit can save time, effort and stress. The Pareto principle asserts that 80% of results come from 20% of the effort.
- Reframe failure as an opportunity for learning or growth.
- Get comfortable with living in uncertainty, the antidote for needing to be in control.
- Be ready to articulate your boundaries, If work is your platform for perfectionism, set a limit and tell yourself “I have labored enough.”
Recognizing that you are enough within the context of who you are is a perfect first step in addressing the slippery slope of perfectionism. It is also essential that we tell ourselves that while we can always do our best, we are imperfectly fine.
Written by: Sheri Schulze