Do you recognise this set of events?
1. You write a long list of things to do in your day,
2. Postpone things you enjoy or really want to do for yourself, because you haven’t finished your list,
3. Beat yourself up at the end of the day for not getting it all done,
4. And feel overwhelmed.
This is a sign of perfectionism. A common misunderstanding about perfectionism is that it is about doing things really well; which sounds like quite a good thing to aim for, doesn’t it? However, it is actually about setting yourself an impossible target, and then beating yourself up when you don’t achieve it. It tends to have one of two results: you end up pushing and exhausting yourself trying to achieve the impossible, or you don’t even begin to do something, because it all looks too overwhelming.
Perfectionist patterns vary from person to person: for example trying to be the perfect parent, trying to meet everyone else’s needs and requests (now THAT’S an impossible task to set yourself!), wanting everything you write to be perfect.
Society encourages this pattern. What is expected of you at work can be completely unrealistic. Schools reward getting things right, and working hard. Social media gives the impression that you need to have the “perfect” life or body. Interestingly, I reckon that about 70-80% of clients that come to see me run this pattern somewhere in their lives, which shows how common it is.
But what gets lost in all of this? You! The things you love doing, space and time for yourself, living your life fully, and enjoying the present moment. So to make room for these vitally important things, you need to get really good at:
· Knowing what is really important in your life and prioritising that.
· Being kind to yourself.
· Making mistakes and that being OK (after all, do we really like it if our friends are perfect?!).
· And being good enough.
I know about this because I used to have plenty of perfectionist patterns. I have made huge changes with these since I did the Lightning Process, but from time to time I still notice and change unrealistic expectations that I have of myself, other people, and the world. The other week I was enjoying a walk on my own and having a chat with myself (as I like to do from time to time!) and I started playing round with putting “good enough” after anything that crossed my mind. For example;
“My life is good enough”
“The world is good enough”
“My family and friends are good enough”
“My body is good enough”
And, of course, most importantly, “I am good enough!”
I felt quite different about all sorts of things as I did this. And it must have had a powerful effect, because that night I woke up with a poem in my head (not something that has ever happened to me before!):
Nowhere to go,
Nothing to do,
I’m good enough
And the world is too.