- Mental Health
How to Overcome Perfectionism
Stop Trying to be Perfect!
My whole life I have been a perfectionist. To be honest, I never really thought about it. It just came naturally to me. Being a perfectionist is not about ego, as some people think, it's about thinking that everything we do has to be done the very best.
I take pride in myself and the things that I do. I want to present the best me I can and do the best job I can...from cooking dinner to helping a friend with a problem. It doesn't matter how big or small it is, it is my duty to make it perfect.
As the years have gone by and I am now facing 60, I am finally realizing that it is a curse to be a perfectionist. It is exhausting, stressful and downright a waste of time! Getting older you don't have the same energy you once had, so it becomes easier to let things slide...just a little.
Having said that, it isn't easy to change this habit. I think most perfectionist are born that way, so it's just part of who you are. Due to some life changing events in my life, I had to finally face my perfectionism head on. I realized I had to let go of it. I had to stop trying to be perfect and make everything perfect.
Due to the loss of both of my parents and other situations, I suddenly found myself on my own for the first time in my life...and alone. It was a startling and anxious time that took me many years to cope with and find some kind of peace about. I also found that I had to do everything for myself. No one was going to help me fix things or figure things out.
I wore myself down trying to do it all and, of course, it had to be done right...it had to be perfect. There was a moment when it all hit me, the truth that I couldn't keep this up. I had to learn to break my habit of perfectionism.
The first thing I did was realize that if I didn't dust that table every day, it wasn't the end of the world. I will say right now that I haven't turned into a slob or stopped being clean and tidy and all that other good stuff, but...and this is a huge step, I have stopped being so anxious about it. The house can be dusted once a month and it's fine. It really is.
Another problem has been financial. I can't afford to hire someone to fix everything, so I either have to find a way to fix it myself or not fix it at all. An example is my kitchen floor. It is over twenty years old and has lots of dings in it from things being dropped on it. I would love to get it replaced, but can't afford to. I can't do the job myself...wouldn't even know where to begin...so I have learned to live with it.
If I ever get a million or two in the bank I will definitely have it fixed, but in the meantime, I have let myself stop obsessing over it. There are a lot of things around the house that I've had to learn to ignore. Maybe more importantly, I have had to learn to accept. Accept that they can't be done right now and that's ok... it has to be, and getting stressed over them is not going to help.
My habit of perfectionism is getting weaker and I am finding it freeing in some ways. I have worn myself out trying to keep it up and finally, one day I let out a huge sigh and said "STOP!" It hasn't been easy, but it's been essential to my well-being. I've learned to accept that while something might not be "perfect", it is good enough. I also finally realized that a lot of times my efforts were a waste of time. No one appreciated that extra effort I put in. In the end, it didn't matter anyway.
So, my final words are to all my fellow perfectionists. We have to do a certain amount to make ourselves comfortable and happy, but we don't have to have everything perfect. We don't have to be perfect ourselves. Do yourself a huge favor and lighten up...things will be just fine...honestly.