When I was growing up it was always drummed into me that things should be done properly or not at all. I was told that things should be perfect or done to the best of my ability and I shouldn’t even bother if they weren’t. Well you can imagine that this inevitably meant that I was either very stressed about doing things or I simply didn’t attempt to do them at all. I went through my teenage years constantly wishing I could do things better.
I always blamed it on my very strict German upbringing but I am discovering that these traits lie well beyond culture. I believe the Virgo star sign is another one. For some of us, it is simply about wanting to prove that we do things really well or perhaps to prove some nasty voice within ourselves that we are perfect in some way…..
Now, I am not saying that doing things well is a bad thing. Not at all. It is only when we become obsessive with it and become stressed out that it is unhealthy. I noticed it distinctly today at work at how much I have changed.
I have lost that obsessive edge to prove something. To show that everything I do is perfect. That I am perfect and that everything I present is as perfect as it can be. It is a good place to be. I have come to a place where I have simply accepted myself and who I have become and where I am and I don’t feel bad about it. I am who I am and I shouldn’t feel badly for anything I have or have not done or how I act or how I react. This is me, good and bad. No excuses. Just is.
I remember a time when that certainly was far from the truth. I would sit up late worrying about whether what I had prepared for work was good enough, if I could’ve added something, done more or somehow should rethink the whole thing. I would constantly second guess myself and yip my ability. The ironic thing is, it was the lack of confidence in what I had done which actually gave a poorer perception of those receiving the information, than any of the information itself. I often would overcompensate and provide too much information and then I would present it poorly.
Since I have lost this “inner freak” who wanted to control and perfect everything around her, I feel so much lighter and happier in myself. I no longer need validation for my work but recognise that my skills are what are needed, those around me will see that in due course. The funny thing is that since loosing my “inner freak” I have more control of my life and those around me. Because I am calm and focused, not worrying about perception I think more clearly and my ability to do my job better is just there. Funny isn’t it? People like me more and listen to me more because I am just easier to deal with and be around. I don’t analyse myself or criticise myself anymore but have come to a place of pure acceptance.
Being in control and wanting to do things perfectly are such a stress driver. Why do we do it? What is the core reason you do it? Is it a nasty inner voice? Is it a feeling of not being good enough? If you allow yourself to recognise why you do it, what drives it, what makes you stress out about not being in control, you can heal that inner voice.
Life is too short to try and control everything. Give what you can within the framework that you’ve been given and learn to just let things go that you can’t. Think about what you can do and what you can achieve rather than what you can’t and you will feel a lot better!
Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.Theodore Roosevelt
26th president of US (1858 – 1919)
This Post Has 6 Comments
Don’t feel too bad! I used to be just like that! I think we like things orderly 🙂 Get into some finger painting or something that ensures messiness! That worked wonders on me! Think about – will it matter in 5years? Probably not 🙂
I am a slave to my perfectionism, I feel like I always fall short and everything could of been done even better. I am obsessed with planning and always being prepared. I freak out if I forget something and things are not in their place. I am ready to let go and have some fun! Now the question is how can I get there. It is time to get help. Thank you!
Hi Arun. I am glad you found the article and that it was able to make you feel better. Take some lessons from Zenhabits: http://zenhabits.net/start/
He always makes me recognise that all this stuff, success and material possessions are just not worth it 🙂
Thank you sooo much for this! …I have been going through a lot of depression and very low self confidence! … I also suffer from little OCD. But after reading your article.. I’m feeling really good. Thanks a lot again! … If you have something more about this then I would love to know more!…
Hi SJT! I know it seems to hard to get there when you’re in that kinda – gotta do everything perfect and anything else is just a waste of time mindset but once you realise that life is just too short to stress over it all and that as long as the big picture is achieved, most things don’t really matter. Sometimes being over perfect can actually be a hindrance. Like it is hard to be around someone who is over perfect cos it makes you feel less than perfect – I used to get this some friends – or that you are so stressed out and focused that you miss all the fun in the process!
Ha! You have no idea how much I can relate to this article. I could be the definition for the stereotypical perfectionist. Not to mention I also have several obsessive-compulsive tendencies. . . and being a perfectionist is something I both love and hate about myself. I am being forced to come to grips with life right now, through several strenuous circumstances which are forcing me to realize that I cannot be perfect all (or even most) of the time. I hope someday I will be able to find myself comfortable with not having to do everything perfect, like you mentioned in the article. It lets me know there’s still hope yet!