Do you strive to be everything and then some in all areas of your life? Do you find yourself toggling between being the best boss or employee, the best partner, the best mom, and the best friend everyday?
Do you have high expectations for yourself, set lofty goals, and continuously feel like you’re falling short, even if you’re making progress?
If you’ve found that your driven and focused nature has caused harmful side effects in your life, you’re likely encountering the negative effects of perfectionism. You’re not alone. Most high-achieving women experience the same thing, including myself. But those who address perfectionism and learn to rise above it can achieve new heights of effortless success and unleash their authentic power.
We feel like there is always eyes on us to show weakness or slip up because we are women in a man’s world so we feel the need to outperform. We push to take on as much as possible and feel extreme guilt and fear when we perceived we’ve failed.
From when I was in my early teens, I felt this pressure to be “perfect” in all aspects: school, socially, and in extra curriculars. I developed bulimia in an effort to seek control which would go on to control my life until I got help in my early twenties. I lost nearly decade of growth, freedom, and stability to perfectionism.
How perfectionism manifests:
Perfectionism can take on many forms in our lives. Sometimes perfectionism can look like dedication, commitment, enthusiasm, focus, or diligence, but is actually something much deeper and more personal. Expecting perfection of yourself can be damaging in the long-term.
Here are some specific ways you may see perfectionism manifest:
- Overloading – Taking on too many tasks per day
- Anxiety – fueled by fear of failure or judgment of others
- Procrastination – or fear of starting on your biggest goals
- Anger – at yourself when you fall short on small things
- Questioning – your intelligence and abilities if you do not perform as you expected
- Control: need to control to feel safe, using control for creating certainty
- Blaming – external circumstances
- Defensiveness – when others criticize you
- Over our bodies through disordered eating and excessive exercise
- Obsession over your achievements and external accolades/validation
- Spending a disproportionate amount of time on the small things which only matter a little, or not at all
Why we do this to ourselves:
As women, we have a special place in this world. Men have more flexibility in what roles they can choose to take on with varying expectations. For example, as a man, it’s understandable to not be home for dinner because of work or not take the kids to school to get to the office early or to even choose career over all because that’s “what men do”. As women, the more we move into the very masculine business world, we take on more and we still remain tied to our traditional and natural place as mothers, wives, and caretakers. As a result, we strive to perform at the perceived expectation and we are stretched thin. We see a perfect performance in each as the only way to be a true “success” and compete in the masculine world. We see striving at all costs as our only way to compete and rise.
Perfectionism is about controlling the outcome in order to receive love and acceptance. At its deepest level, perfection is also an illusion, a story we create in our mind to feel safe and secure that we are indeed capable of such influence. It is irrational. Instead of moving forward into progress, we sink back in procrastination and self destruction to avoid something as silly as disapproval. According to a study by York University, there is an undeniable link between perfectionism and procrastination. Our drive to be perfect sparks anxiety which leads to inaction; a vicious cycle ensues. If you’re found yourself here at times in your life or consistently, you battle with a perfectionism mindset. It doesn’t serve you like it didn’t serve me; it’s time to let go!
How to overcome perfectionism:
The first step to overcome your tendency for perfection is to recognize when this is the underlying cause of your setbacks. This is the “unmasking” phase. Once you start to see all the ways perfectionism is holding you back, then you can begin to “unlearn.”
Here are some ways you can release your need for perfection and increase your power within:
- Allowing room for guilt-free error: in your diet, in your exercise, in your daily tasks, etc.
- Scheduling time off
- Listen to the critical voice in your head, imagine it as a real life person sitting next to you, realize they sound awful and abusive, and remind yourself that this language is unhealthy.
- Create more realistic goals based on your expectations, not others’
- Develop heart awareness: get out of your head, drop into your heart and ask yourself where is your thought/fear/expectation is coming from…fear or love?
- Recognize that mis-takes are just that! You have the chance to another “take” without fear fueling your intention to “do”.
- Share your struggles and story; there are others to support you and many who will thank you for your authenticity!
When I looked at my disease, that I had entirely mentally created, I realized how much it was not serving me. I saw that what I was actually doing was procrastinating and self sabotaging my physical self to keep me “safe” from disapproval and potential “failure” (both perceptions). My healing was gradual but was sparked by a moment of decision.
I let go of the perceptions of disapproval and accepted my mission here on earth: to create and serve others. I could not fulfill my mission without dropping my false perceptions and the destructive habits they brought.
I shifted the energy I put into that into drastic perfectionism into healthy eating and exercise, …. And eventually created a healthier harmony within.. Doing so allowed me then to have more energy to create better academic results, more loving relationships on the outside because I was giving myself more love on the inside. The awareness I developed around my obsessive perfectionist mindset made space to embark on a journey of growth, radical self-love and self-responsibility for creating my life congruently.
Authenticity and self love are some of the vital ingredients for Feminine Power to manifest fulfillment.
- Perfectionism is a thief of: your power, your joy, your abundance mindset
- Perfectionism is a sign of low worthiness
- Seeking external validation through flawlessness – this is an unreasonably and unhealthy expectation, and validation needs to come from yourself
- It’s all about self-esteem/self-confidence and self-efficacy/believing in oneself and it is a cycle of negative self-judgment – expecting perfection is unreasonable – it is something we cannot achieve, and therefore we let ourselves down constantly, further deteriorating our sense self-efficacy, and further increasing our need for external validation.
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