Perfectionism in Disguise

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

I would never, ever call myself a perfectionist. That is someone who just wants everything to be to just right, who takes the time to make things look beautiful and is never satisfied. I mean, I have sloppy handwriting, I do not care about the presentation of my food and sometimes I go out and about in my sweatshirt because I really could care less, as long as I am comfortable.

So when I was told I had to let go of this perfectionism thing, I said “Please, do you know who you are talking to?”  In my attempts to deny this nonsense, I realized that I do have an overwhelming concern to do everything “right” and spend my days comparing about why everything in my life, including myself, is not good enough. Ah perfectionism at its finest.

You know the saying “comparison is the thief of joy.” Is that the most honest saying ever? Think about it. You are going about your day, maybe just completing a intense workout, dressed super cute or gave a bad ass presentation at work,  and then it happends. You compare yourself to your friend who had a “better” workout, the girl who looks “cuter” and the speech that was given is “better.”

Believe me, I struggle with this all the time. I compare myself all the time. Whether it is to the perfect body, the perfectly dressed, the highly successful, or the perfect way of eating, working out, living. No wonder I am stressed and anxiety ridden. I am shooting for a moving target, a target I will never hit, perfection. I have trained myself to ignore the strengths and progress I am making in life, and have chosen to focus on my weaknesses and shortcomings.

You know what?

The woman with the perfect body, she has her struggles too.

The effortlessly matched fashionista, may not view life as effortless.

The successful business person, they have challenges too.

I have become victim to the thought ‘If I do everything right, I will get everything I want’. I have since realized that doing everything right does not get you everything you want. That is not how life works. My own standards are some made up ideal I have in my head and has consumed my thoughts, making me feel inadequate.

Deep down I know everyone has their own challenges and burdens. We all feel inadequate in our own ways. The struggle is to not let our self proclaimed inadequacy rob our happiness and self love.   We must realize that how our bodies are shaped, how our clothes look, whether our dinners look like they do on pinterest ( sounds silly but I know someone out there has had these thoughts too), or how much money we make, does not define our worth or value. We are not only successful when we reach our goals but have little success along that way that should be celebrated each and everyday.  It is possible to have ambition and feel blessed with the life you have at the same time.

To keep my perspective in check:

My mom told me this all the time growing up. Put it in perspective. When my sisters and I told her we didn’t want to eat our vegetables she told us we were lucky to have food, as some children in other parts of the world do not. When we were upset we couldn’t get a new shirt on a shopping trip, she told us to think about all that we did own and be grateful for that. And as a kid, let me tell you how frustrating that is to argue. We couldn’t because we knew we were blessed in our own ways. When I feel myself getting down about not being a certain way or meeting a certain standard, I ask myself.

Did I wake up with a roof over my head and food in my tummy?

Am I am healthy and able bodied?

Do I have friends and family in my life who love me?

Do I make time for activities in life that I truly enjoy?

I tell myself.

Love yourself.

Trust yourself.

Don’t be afraid to fail and do things differently.

Be patient with yourself.

You are enough.

Where you are right now is perfect.

Do not let goals define your worth.

Perfectionism is a tricky business. The endless energy we spend worrying about things that do not matter brings us down in so many ways. I am reading, Loving What Is by Byron Katie and she points out an amazing question that I have started to ask myself when these thoughts creep into my head. What is one stress-free reason to believe that thought? What is one stress free reason to believe someone is more attractive, more successful or “better” than you? If you cannot find one, release your feelings, release your thoughts. If is does not truly matter, let it slide.  As much suffering and pain we experience in life, it is also full of goodness, meaning and beauty. Who we are is enough.

 

 

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