You're probably ready to make some changes, aren't you?
You've hung in there with me. We've talked about perfectionism and how to tell if you might be a perfectionist. We explored how shame traps us in nightmare stories and how when you treat yourself with kindness, you begin to discover new ways to tell the story and pursue what you really want. We faced the cold hard truth that your anxiety does not fuel your ambition, it stunts it, and then I tried my best to convince you that you should absolutely do things that you suck at, because failure is often just the step before success. Last week, I shared with you advice I would have given myself (you know, if Time Turners were a real thing, and also, I had one).
This week, for our final adventure into recovering from perfectionism (at least for a while), I want to leave you with some ideas of how you can move forward in making changes in your life and embrace being delightfully human.
(Be sure to still tune in next week, I'll be post a round-up of some fabulous resources for you if you have found that you want to dig in deeper to working on perfectionism–either in your own life or with clients of your own).
1. Be real with people (starting with yourself):
Look, I really get that there is that voice that has seemingly unassailable arguments for why you absolutely should not do what is authentic to you (or worse yet, it convinces you that you don't even have the ability to be authentic and will always be completely inept in every situation you find yourself in). And yet, I really hope you believe me when I say: who you are is enough. Not good, not bad, just enough.
2. Take risks (but still pack that first aid kit):
This one isn't really an option, because it can be a risk to choose not to take risks (which is a catch twenty-two if I've ever heard one). Risks aren't nearly as scary when you realize that they're a part of everyday living–some are just bigger than others.
The secret to taking risks is to go in prepared to take care of yourself in the midst of risk taking. Keep Band-Aids in the medicine cabinet and good, understanding friends on speed dial. You'll be surprised that you can make it through just about anything when you are connected to good resources.
3. Validate yourself (with words and actions):
It's so important to remember that you are a human–flawed, beautiful, and in need of love and validation. External validation is awesome, but it can be so fleeting, and when we base our understanding of our worth on it, we are destined to feel shitty about ourselves.
The antidote to this is not eliminating all external validation, but rather to learn how to validate yourself–in both words (“hey, it makes sense that that would hurt me as much as it did, just because they didn't really mean it doesn't mean it doesn't hurt”) as well as in deed (e.g., standing up for yourself and telling the other person what they said/did was not okay and you want them to apologize/not do it again).
4. Stop pretending you know how to read minds:
“Wait,” you're probably thinking, “I know I can't read anyone's mind, I'm just really intuitive/thoughtful/sensitive and can pick up on what others are feeling really easily.”
And that's probably true. But we both know that you often go a step beyond just picking up on the emotion (like anger, or sadness, or boredom), you often start to consider what you did or said that brought up those emotions and/or you immediately go into “fix it” mode wanting to provide a solution to someone's distress.
The trouble is, just because you can intuit what someone might be feeling doesn't mean you can immediately interpret why they are feeling that–e.g., you gotta take a risk and ask them. When we let people own what and how they're feeling, we also free ourselves up from having to take responsibility of saving them from those feelings.
5. Treat yourself with kindness:
While this sounds easy and totally doable, it is surprisingly hard–especially for perfectionists. So often we say really mean things to ourselves, not in an effort to be mean, but in a sort of twisted up way to keep ourselves safe from being wounded by others.
Unfortunately, while we may not get hurt by others, we still get hurt, AND we miss out on the possibility of all the joy and love we might have experienced in those moments we convinced ourselves that all we would be was judged and rejected.
6. Stay curious:
Try new things, be a beginner, give yourself plenty of room to mess up, fail, and get messy. None of us knows how to do anything on our first go around. We learn as we fail, we grow as we mess up. Instead of judging yourself for not being an idiot savant, choose instead to get really curious about what worked, what didn't, and what you want to do with all that information.
7. Choose you over perfection:
If nothing else, I hope you embrace this one all the way. I hope you choose the you that you're scared to show to others, the you who dreams big dreams, and is willing to do what it takes to get there. I hope you choose to love and nurture–not judge and berate–this you who is filled with a special kind of magic. Perfection is not only impossible, it's way overrated. Choose freedom from perfection, choose you.
The work doesn’t stop here: