Perfectionism and Self-Worth
Let me just start off by being honest here. This is not going to be my best blog post. I can’t seem to focus like I do some weeks. I can’t seem to articulate myself well. I actually don’t even know what exactly I want to articulate here. I’m writing it anyway and posting it is going to make me cringe a bit. I hope that does not stop you from reading. And I’ll explain more in a moment.
The past few weeks I have been exploring how Self-Worth impacts so many areas of our lives. I have written on Self-Worth as it relates to anxiety, depression, relationships, setting and holding boundaries, and now today I want to talk a little on how Self-Worth relates to perfectionism.
If you have been reading along, you’ve learned that different experiences in our lives teach us things about ourselves. What we learn becomes what we believe. It’s ingrained in us and goes to our very core. Remember those beliefs like:
Perfectionism is one way the deep core belief that you aren’t “good enough” shows up and says maybe, just maybe, if you do things absolutely perfectly, you can finally believe that you ARE. It is a way of telling ourselves that we are only “good enough” when we are performing well. (THANK YOU school systems for putting such an emphasis on a letter grade and starting this cycle before we are old enough to even spell the word ‘perfectionism’.) The delusion of being perfect becomes our measuring stick. How unreasonable. We set ourselves up to fail.
We have been conditioned to believe that we are constantly proving our worth through our performance. As an adult, that can be our performance on a work project, our annual review, our weight/appearance, what is on our plate, our children’s grades/sports, how kept our house is, etc. All these things are easy for us to “grade” ourselves on. When we look like we have it perfectly together, we can give ourselves a gold star and believe that we are good enough.
The anxiety this causes!! Omg! The constant assessment of how we are measuring up. The never ending string of negative thoughts if things are not perfect. It is absolutely exhausting and the reason for many breakdowns and panic attacks.
And here’s another problem: people tend to think that perfectionists are high functioning people. That’s not usually true though. Perfectionism doesn’t give us the motivation or ability to do things perfectly- it only tells us that if we DON’T, bad things will happen (like, people will find out that we aren’t good enough). It’s actually paralyzing. One of the most common characteristics of a perfectionist is extreme procrastination (which often leads to just not doing the thing).
I keep saying “we” because it’s me. I have dealt with this for years (and am still working through it). It has taken me a week to sit down and write this blog just because I want to avoid this topic. Ya girl has been procrastinatinggg. And yes, it’s been paralyzing.
How many of you have looked at your to-do list of house work on Saturday morning and it seems so overwhelming that you can’t even get started? Half of the day goes by and you just continue to beat yourself up for not starting, but can’t seem to get going because the list is too long to do in one day. All or nothing, black or white thinking. It either all has to be done and your house has to look like something out of Southern Living, or there is no point in even trying. It’s impossible so you just don’t bother.
Here’s where we have to do the work of separating our self-worth from the task at hand. The house (or the article) is not a representation of your worth. I am good enough when I write an average article. It doesn’t have to be mind blowing. It can still help people, which is my goal. The house doesn’t have to be spotless. It can have a few less spots from cleaning a few things, and the rest can be dealt with another day. Once we calm our spirit and recenter on what is really happening in front of us (putting this weight on our performance), it actually frees us to be able to do the thing (or at least part of the thing) that we have been so paralyzed from getting done. Hence me cringing ...but hitting “post” nonetheless.
Once we recognize what impossible standards we are putting on ourselves, we can start to sort through what we actually want to believe and what we can choose let go of. If you are ready to start the journey of letting go of the unreasonable expectations you put on yourself- to be perfect and do everything perfectly- message me today and let’s start working on what life could look like without all these demands.
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