Perfectionists and friends of perfectionists, unite. Maybe you are one? You definitely know one. Actually, I ask this question to my patients daily. Being a perfectionist is darn hard work, I should know, I almost became one full time. I come from a long line of perfectionists (who I love to bits and they know who they are) but for me the constant nagging thoughts and ideas doing the swirl in my mind one day became too much. I had to choose before I self combusted. I had to let it go.
Don’t get me wrong – there are still very much perfectionist traits that creep back in at times. Just ask my husband. He’ll list my triggers – there are two main offenders. Packing and visitors. Packing for a holiday brings out something in me that resembles the devil on red cordial. Apparently my horns come out – and I know they do, it’s all too consuming. I’m very particular when it comes to packing. I don’t want to over pack, I like to keep it minimal, pack it all in very neatly and avoid forgetting anything. I hate pushing weight limits and I don’t want to pack 100 items because I know in my heart of hearts I’ll end up wearing the same 3 outfits for the week anyway. I put great thought into it. It doesn’t help that I generally leave it until the night before heading away – perhaps that is too, somewhat a conscious choice to sink my fierce energy into a small packing window. I can try and be a nicer person for the rest of the time. Whatever the case, I’m learning to become very conscious about my behaviour when it comes to putting my belongings into a bag before I’m ready to set sail. Who would have thought packing brought out my inner perfectionist?
Frustratingly, perfectionism may be running your life. The need to have things so right becomes all consuming, your body goes into the same fight or flight response it would if you were being chased by a grizzly bear, sizing you up for his next meal. Ever so kindly, our body’s don’t discriminate various types of stress, it recognises all stress as one and the same. This little play out of hormones as we’ve discussed many times means that your cortisol and adrenaline levels are constantly being cyphered into your body, as if the tap is dripping from a lousy washer. So you see, your body can’t possibly do it all. It can’t facilitate perfectionism and hormone balance. It’s physiologically impossible. It’s not to say it won’t try, but the fact of the matter remains, cortisol is so bossy, most other major influential hormones don’t stand a chance – especially progesterone, that extra special hormone that surges in the middle of your cycle sweeping ovulation off it’s feet. Maybe your cortisol levels aren’t obviously affecting your progesterone balance – it’s not to say that the chief (cortisol) isn’t at play. It will set up shop and it’s super hard to get a wrap on. Reality is, your body even though you may feel ok, on that deeper level, it knows best. Flicking off the hormone switch is simply it’s way of helping you survive.
It’s not easy to flick off the perfectionist switch. By observation I’ve come to discover that there are a few various types of those who aim high. There are the kind that it is inbuilt – almost like hard wiring. They have it engrained in their DNA. Then there are those who think they have to achieve perfectionism because of the need to please others. And finally, there are those who have made it a habit. If only we realised we could invest that energy into creating the life we want (and often with far less effort), I’m sure it would be refreshing.
Getting a grip on perfectionism is without doubt so hard. But it starts with being mindful. It starts with getting conscious around what is actually worth stressing over and what isn’t. Confronting your triggers and making a choice. What would happen if things weren’t ‘perfect’ (because guess what – there’s actually no such thing as perfect, right?) What would happen if you let go?
Perhaps this is resonating with you and maybe you don’t know where to start. This is one of the reasons why I created Debunking Stress – to give us all tools we could easily (and readily) utilise to make our lives a whole lot lovelier. Ultimately we have a choice – it’s up to us individually to choose ease and the imperfect and continue to paint our own ‘perfect’ life canvas.