Do you ever feel like the need to be perfect is a never ending cycle that entraps you endlessly?
Perfectionism is an endless cycle that is very covert. Your mind and behaviors continuously reassure you that you need to be perfect. Behaviors may look like this: Have you ever written an email and read it more than 2 times to see if it is correct? Do you replay a conversation you had with someone over and over to think if you said everything correctly? Have you cleaned your home and do not know when to stop before someone comes over? When someone praises you for how you look, what a great job you did or how your home looks it can feel so rewarding. Those rewards release brain chemicals and perfectionism can be addictive without your awareness.
This need to be or have things perfect comes at a cost to your physical body, spirituality and mental health.
One of my favorite therapy assignments to help clients with perfectionism is to have them write out all the things and areas in their life that need to be perfect. Appearance, work, house, parenting, organizing, thoughts, grades, etc.
Perfectionism is also known as the overcompensation for shame. Shame can also be covert in our language and behaviors. Often I guide clients working to overcome perfectionism to reframe their most common words of “I should” to “I could.” When you hear yourself say the word “should” it indicates you are trying to be perfect to compensate for not feeling good enough. For example, a man could not feel good enough as a husband, because he thinks “I should have remembered what she asked me to do before work this morning”.
Books I recommend to clients to work on perfectionism and shame are by Brene Brown and Melodie Beatty. They both provide ways to let go and focus on self-love and self-acceptance.
There are ways to work on overcoming perfectionism such as learning self-compassion, addressing shame, changing your own high standards and embracing hot to play and have fun in life.