Perfectionism is like a rainbow.
It’s an illusion!
No matter how close you get to the rainbow, you’ll never touch it.
The quest for perfection leads us down a road to be critical of ourselves and others.
Here are three common thought patterns that might mean you’re striving for perfection:
Comparing yourself to others. Often we compare our size, shape, looks, and success to other people. Sometimes we compare ourselves to the unrealistic characters in magazines, movies or TV shows. Remind yourself that you don’t have to be like other people. You have your own journey.
All or nothing thinking. If you are constantly deciding whether you did good or bad today, right or wrong, you are engaging in all or nothing or black and white thinking. The truth is life is lived in many shades of gray.
Should, ought, must, have to, need to. This type of thinking is our invisible measuring stick, the one we use to gauge how well we are doing. It’s one thing to reflect on our progress. It’s another to compare our progress with someone else.
These thoughts often leave us feeling frustrated, inferior, jealous, and worthless. We are left believing we are not lovable or accepted because we are not perfect. Perfectionism leads us to continue to fill the need for love and acceptance by inefficient or artificial means, either by jumping through hoops for others’ approval, winning at all costs, or when all else fails, shoveling down cake to experience the “ahh” factor or pleasure.
The problem is if we focus so much on our desire for acceptance, love, and appreciation, we may miss actually being accepted, loved, and appreciated. When we are busy comparing ourselves to others, we miss what we have.
S.W.A.T. that thought!
Stop What you are doing, take a breath.
Ask yourself some questions:
Am I worried about what other people think? What is so important about what they think? Who are the people that are important in my life? Do they accept me? Do they love me? What can I do right now to stop comparing myself to others?
Be kind to yourself. Each day brings something new. Some days we are able to stay in our lane and make choices that align with our goals. Some days, not so much. Remind yourself that the important people in your life love and accept you right now.
Susan Macey PhD