How to get out of the perfectionism trap
You may have noticed that my logo is a peach. It is inspired by an ingenious quote from the model Dita von Teese. “You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there's still going to be somebody who hates peaches.”
The point of this is not to be bummed about who likes us and who doesn't. The point us that you can do everything right and still someone might not jive with your personality. Or your partner might be in a bad mood, or your father might be disappointed, or your co-worker will be stressed out and take it out on you.
So, back to perfectionism. Perfectionism does not actually enable us to control whether someone will like peaches (or be happy with us or be in a bad mood or be capable of giving us the affection we need). What perfectionism does do is get in the way, take up a lot of time, and burden us which a sense of control that we don’t have. That’s a lot to carry, to feel that it’s all up to our actions.
Now, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be ambitious and execute things well or that you should be mean and not a good friend. That’s something different. This is about being afraid of vulnerability, being afraid of the things we can’t control, and trying to avoid that by doing everything right. And not only is that impossible, but avoiding vulnerability is a missed opportunity in itself. Because it is only through vulnerability that we can grow and learn and get what we need.
What if you let go of being the perfect person to everyone? Would it free you up to get more of what you need?
Here are some questions to think about or journal about:
Think about someone you often find yourself trying to please. What are things that you do during your day to try to please them. Does it work? Are there times when no matter what you do, they are dissatisfied? How does that feel and what do you do to avoid that?
Are there people in your life from whom you feel approval no matter what even when you mess up? How does that feel?
And a strategy to shift away from perfectionism:
Set a reminder on your phone to go off every few hours for the next few days to stop and ask yourself: What am I doing today for the sake of someone else’s approval of me or reaction to me? See if you can let go of that outcome and understand that you don’t have control over how they feel. And then move forward based on what you want to do for your own sake and not because of trying to control how they feel about you.