Handling the Perfectionist within

It was much easier writing the first blog post than the second.

I’ve been wondering why it’s been so much more difficult. Perhaps it’s the heat (it’s been a phenomenally sunny 31° outside). Or perhaps it’s because I’m trying to be a perfectionist and ‘get it right’, rather than ‘get it out’.

The perfectionist is currently on holiday (or somewhere, I don’t care where). While she’s away, I’m writing this in her honour.

Perfectionism has always been a part of me. She sits on my right shoulder dressed like a princess. All in immaculate pink, she flounces about with her neat pigtails like that know-it-all we all despised at school. She shouts about my inadequacies, undermines my wisdom, gives me irrational advice & smirks with pride as I shrink under her spell. She irritates me. A lot.

It’s not all bad though. There are some virtues of being perfect. It gives us a driving energy and we diligently maintain an impressive work ethic. We’ve got high standards and care deeply about the quality of our work. We’re great at the detail, spotting the mistakes others don’t see. And of course, just like my princess, we always look good.

The challenge comes when we’re tight in her grip. She has an inimical impact on us. I procrastinate and I can take far too long to do simple tasks. I believe the smallest mistake may lead to failure. I delay making that phone call for fear of conflict. I waste time and energy worrying about what I ‘should’ do or ‘should have’ done. I worry what people think of me. I’m notoriously hard on myself.

I know a few others like me. You do too. So where next from here? This is how I stop myself getting tangled in the perfectionist’s web:

  • I think of fabulous people I know and think about what I’d tell them if they had similar thoughts;
  • I look at the post-it note on my wall that says ‘good enough’;
  • I remember the world won’t end if I make a small mistake. Really it won’t! And;
  • I think of all the lovely things I could do with the time and energy I’d save if I wasn’t striving for perfect.

These things feel good. And brilliantly, when I’m free from the web, my pink princess looks glum and dishevelled and I know that all is well in the world again.

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