We, the perfectionist type, learned early on that doing things well equalled positive attention. We felt good about ourselves when we excelled at schoolwork, sports, or our first jobs. Adults praised us. We rode the high of a system that praised being the best, following the rules, getting the grade.
It felt good, because we understood the expectations and knew how to meet them.
But now we’re adults and the world is bigger. Expectations are higher, thanks to the interconnectedness of social media and the higher stakes of keeping jobs, finding love, and making our lives mean something. The benefits are still there, sure. Our coworkers think we’re impressive. Our parents are proud. Our friends think we’re a rock. But inside we’re crumbling.
Because if we can’t do our best, then we don’t do anything. If we stand the chance of being humiliated, then we never risk trying something new. And if we fail, even a little, the voices in our head go all Mean Girls on us.
Perfectionism is a flawed mindset, and it’s holding us back from living lives we love.
We KNOW perfect isn’t attainable, so why do we strive so hard to reach it?
Your high standards are a disguise. They keep you from facing the truth that perfection won’t save you. You can do your absolute best and still be rejected, unhappy, and afraid.
Perfectionism is a thought pattern motivated by fear. We fear losing the respect and admiration of others. We fear our own secret laziness if we lower our standards. We fear our lack of intrinsic self-worth if the measuring stick is removed.
And fear-based living will always eat you alive.
Our mental health is demanding a new story, a new way of looking at the world. And it starts with removing the fear.
Release the fear of experiencing uncomfortable emotions like rejection, humiliation, failure, and uncertainty. Imagine what you would be capable of if you weren’t afraid of experiencing negative emotions. What risks would you take? What conversations would you start? What would you walk away from?
Perfectionism won’t protect you anymore. Accepting your humanness and the full range of emotions that comes with it is the antidote.
An open and willing heart and an intrinsic sense of self-worth will get you farther in life than unrealistic standards that make you feel awful inside.