If I had a penny for every post I’ve seen with something along the lines of “Be you, everyone else is taken <3” I would no longer have student loan debt. While this cliche is easy to mock (and trust me – early 20’s Emily mocked it ruthlessly), I’ve recently come to the realization that it’s so popular because it’s actually kind of hard to do. Being yourself – being unique – truly identifying who you are and what you want in a situation is hard and a little confusing.
I can hear you groaning through the keyboard but hear me out, friends.This was a really hard task for me – I used to find it insanely difficult to be and define “me” and I don’t think I’m alone in this. I had a really hard time figuring out which thoughts, feelings and impulses were “me” vs the things I’ve been conditioned to believe or think.
To truly identify me I had to:
Separate who I was from how I felt (emotions)
Separate who I was from all of my thoughts (impulsive thinking brain)
After a lot of journaling, self discovery and asking myself a lot of why’s I found one of the roots to my identity crisis. Perfectionism.
As we all know, no one is perfect but a lot of us try to be. I had decided that I could not do ANYTHING that I was not perfect at…which triggered a major identity crisis considering NO ONE IS PERFECT.
No One Is Perfect
Perfection is insidious. It is the downfall of mindset work. Perfection convinces us that we have to show up at 100% or we shouldn’t show up at all. It’s unattainable, unsustainable and frankly a load of bs.So I had to put myself in perfectionism recovery. Here are a few of the ways I shifted my mindset on perfection so I could get to know ME.
*Before we jump in – I am NOT a therapist. If your perfectionist tendencies are interfering with your day to day life please seek the help of a medical professional.
Pay Attention to Your Thoughts and Feelings
Step one! Monitor those thoughts and feelings. Keep a journal, take a mental tally, set a reminder on your phone to take timeouts and check in – do whatever you need to do.
You are not your thoughts or feelings BUT they do affect you. To help stop the perfectionism monster in its tracks you have to catch it. (Think of this like Swiper from Dora the Explorer – if you don’t see perfectionism sneak in you can’t stop it).
Every time you catch yourself thinking a perfectionist thought such as “I shouldn’t even bother because this isn’t good enough” or “I’ll never have the perfect living room like all the instagram influencers” or “I’m going to quit posting about BLM because I can’t come up with the perfect or BEST way to talk about it”; Stop. Noodle on it. And think about it. Is this thought serving you? This thought – is it telling you who you are? How does it align with who you are?
Meeting your perfectionism in your thoughts is hard work.This will take TIME and PRACTICE.
Eliminate Good & Bad (Perfect & Imperfect)
One way I’ve shifted my thoughts around perfection is by eliminating good & bad. I used perfectionism as a procrastination excuse.
Ex: If I can’t meditate for a full 10-20 minutes then I shouldn’t do it at all because it’s not perfect or enough. Ex: If I can’t exercise for an hour everyday then it’s pointless and not enough.
This mindset is a guaranteed ticket to failure town. Instead of aiming for perfection I aim for action.
Ex: Doing 3 minutes of meditation is good. It is better than 0. Walking the dog for exercise is good, it is more than sitting on the couch.
We don’t get to see instant results when we do things BUT if we kick perfectionism and build the habit we get better day by day sustainably.
This was a crucial step for me because once I could recognize that any action towards my goal was PROGRESS! Tracking progress is motivating and serves us so much more than striving for perfection.
Celebrate EVERY LITTLE SUCCESS
As a kid I would color in my coloring book, deem my art “not good enough” and then throw it away. My sweet, kind mother would pull my coloring out of my trash and hang it on the fridge because she thought it was good enough – I thought she was off her rocker.
I was afraid that my art was never going to be good enough – my mother celebrated it. This was super important for me because it validated my skills even if I didn’t believe in them.
As an adult I recently picked up the habit of celebrating every little success like I won the lotto.
Complete the laundry? Dance party!
Finish everything on my to do list? Take a nap in the sunshine!
Catch a perfectionist thought before it derailed my day? CELEBRATE
Anything and everything is a cause for celebration. Make life your party.
Get an Outside Opinion
My final tip: Work with a mentor! Go to a therapist! Hire a coach!! Talk to someone about it. If you truly want to get to know who you are and what you want you have to eliminate the noise – and that includes the noise we’ve been conditioned to believe about ourselves. Work with someone you trust and who has your best interest in mind.
Once you start noticing perfectionism it becomes a lot easier to catch. Once you start identifying which thoughts are yours and which are conditioned into you by your family/society/ external forces you get to take control. You get to kick perfection. You get to decide what you want your life to look like – and please – don’t try to make it perfect.
Need help getting your mindset in check and getting to the root of who you are and what you want? Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the coaching tab.
Let’s kick perfection and get to know our authentic selves.