Inner Reflection: Imperfectly Perfect

Personal Development

A perfectionist writing a post about perfectionism? Interesting

Nevertheless, here I am. I will press publish. In fact, as this is my first post on my blog,  you are, in a way reading a piece that has taken over two years to write. As you will understand at the end of this entry, It’s not something I’m proud of. Just the fact that you are reading this is enough for me and if you don’t like it, well, that’s okay. Ironically, it’s perfect.

So, why do I want to share my journey of this really negative and scary part of my self? Something that has held me back countless times in life? Because, for the first time in a long time, I fell free. Free from the chase to something utterly unattainable. Let’s break it down.

What perfectionism looked like for me. The ugly truth

Despite the cunning nature of perfectionism, it plays the opposite quite well. Disguising as a teacher or higher intelligence, the voices echoed thoughts that made me feel my best interests were at heart. This could not be further from the truth. It was only when I began to fully understand the danger and negative impact this was having on my success in life that I began to heal. Separating myself and grasping the full extent of this evil and wicked stranger, helped me see perfection for what it really is and the danger I was in if I did not change.

Paralyzed with hyper criticism

Perfectionism paralyzed me from living my dreams.
I often found myself living in a place of hyper-criticism of the world around me.Like clockwork, every time I had an idea, developed an interest in a sport or craft outside my comfort zone, travelled, or even began a new job, perfection would take control and progress became stagnant.

Ridiculously high expectations: Too many choices paired with an incredible guilty conscience

Having such high expectations for myself is how perfectionism gained control. A classic show of perfection may look something like this:

  1. Giving up after the first bump in the road
  2. Going over a minor detail over and over again that all your energy is spent up and unable to move on to the next task
  3. And worst of all,  not starting something until conditions are perfect (which they of course never are)

In all western, modern societies, we have an overwhelming amount of choice compared to any other time in history. Why this can be a good thing as it provides with the freedom to design our lives the way we want, our brains are not actually designed to deal with such an abundance of choice and can cause paralysis. Barry Schwartz explains this in his book “The Paradox of Choice” He says that adding options to peoples lives, can’t help but increase expectations people have about how good those options will be which will produce less satisfaction with results even when they are good. This was revolutionary for me. This means that when we become dissatisfied with an option we have made, we feel responsible because we had so many choices. We blame ourselves and for the perfectionist, this is a straight road to depression. I saw myself in this conundrum instantly. I had become so obsessed with making the perfect choices in life that I wasted energy on tiny details and in turn filled with guilt if it didnt goes as expected. 

Now, I realize now how messed up this sounds but I want to share this because it has been the darkest days of my perfectionism but also where I gained the most insight and motivation to let it go.

Fear of the unknown: Procrastination

Two years ago, I made the realization that I was a perfectionist but it has not been an easy thing to fully let go of. Why on earth would something so malicious be hard to run far away from? If these thought patterns were a real person, no one in their right mind would keep them around. Well, the answer to that lies in the truth under the mask that procrastination wears: FEAR. I believe we listen and entertain the patterns of perfection because they act like they are keeping us safe. It can feel safer to be unseen than possibly ridiculed and confirm the ugly thoughts perfectionism whisper. The insecurity is like candy for perfectionist patterns. By reinforcing the fear, perfectionism leads to procrastination. This was where I began to learn the true motives of my procrastination and moved on. Jodi Picoult says it best: You can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.”

Living perfectly imperfect. Freeing myself and how you can too

As you can see, perfectionism had quite the hold on me and my dreams. This is why I’m so excited about this blog. A project that has lived in my head for way too long. Rather than striving to make it perfect, I simply want it out there. I trust that we can only improve with time but we can learn faster if we give ourselves the opportunity to fail. More importantly, I have learned not to take it all so seriously. I appreciate that the topics I like to discuss, my writing style, my laugh, the way I show up in the world won’t be for everyone and that is completely okay. As I said in the introduction, it’s perfect. Pleasing everyone is impossible and perfect is a waste of ambition. It’s actually quite boring. I’m sure most would agree that flaws and oddities in life are much more interesting so let’s talk about how I got here and how you can too.

Rebel

Adopting a “don’t give an f*&%” attitude was the first thing that helped me. When the thoughts of fear entered, I let them flow past me. Finding bliss in the moments where I would shut the door on fear was enchanting and the more I did it, the more I craved it. Moving across the country without a plan, listening to the inner call to go travelling alone, quitting the job I didnt like and even going on the tinder date despite the awkwardness are the moments that have turned into the biggest adventures in my life.

Start before you are ready, ask questions, get curious and keep going. This is where our power is and often the first step towards our dreams

Meditate

I don’t need to explain the power of mediation. There have been enough books, articles and scientific proof of it’s benefits to our lives .

While I cannot (yet) claim I meditate daily, learning to be present through meditation and doing things simply for the mind-boggling joy it brings, is fiercely powerful against perfectionism. Living in the moment allows us to appreciate all the quirks and beauty being human offers us.

Accept and Detach

Getting real about the lie that my perfectionism and hyper-criticism were motivators and the reason for my successes were instrumental in my journey to recovery. By accepting and detaching from the outcome of a project, perfect no longer became the goal. I began doing things for the joy that they brought me and nothing more.

I’ll admit, this one was not always easy but it’s quite marvelous what we can discover when we change our perpectives

Notice and Grow


Resistance. Control. Perfection. Call it what you want. These feelings live inside all of us at some point. In fact, I believe that it is right before we are about to embark on a possibly life-altering path that we feel called to that these little demons creep in and get louder and louder. As you begin to implement these anti-perfectionisms into your life, I guarantee your happiness will increase. I challenge you to simply notice the moments where perfectionism gets ahold of you and step away. In the beginning, I would physically move. Get a drink of water, change the song on the radio, dance, anything to release the negative thoughts. As you continue to do this, it will get easier. Or so I’m told. They will become whispers and ultimately mute when you start noticing that you are much more successful and living your dreams when you let go of the idea of perfect.

Embrace the quirky and weird parts of yourself, reduce expectations and begin before you feel ready. Dive in enjoy the journey rather than anticipating the goal, Change your perspective and accept that you will learn along the way. We all are. Perfectly Imperfect.

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