Dear Perfectionism, I thought since we were introduced by seemingly trustworthy sources, like teachers, parents, coaches and friends, that you would be a good companion. I didn’t know at the time just how damaging a long-term relationship with you would be.
I think I mistook you for excellence or conscientiousness. Boy, was I mistaken.
Since then, I’ve ended our relationship. But, as with any stalker ex, you keep popping up all over the place. I can’t seem to get rid of you. You keep coming back again and again. Every time I think I’ve made progress, there you are whispering in my ear “That’s average, make it perfect!”, interrupting me, distracting me.
So, here’s the mindset shift I’ve made when you, dear Perfectionism, keep rearing your ugly head.
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Your perfectionism popping back up again and again, despite the efforts you made overcoming your perfectionism, can feel like failure.
You’ve probably gone through this too. You’re working so hard on leaving your perfectionism behind and you’re making great progress, but then something happens that makes your perfectionism come back in full force. You thought you’d gotten over your ‘stuff’ and then it circles back again.
It’s so frustrating and it makes you feel defeated: “Have I made no progress at all?”
But here’s the thing…
You don’t need to be alarmed by this. It’s completely normal, it’s supposed to happen, and it’s in fact a GOOD thing.
Your perfectionism is circling back around because there is still more for you to learn.
You’re ready to go one level deeper. You weren’t ready to go to that next level before, but now you’re ready.
That specific situation that makes your perfectionism come out is actually here to help you heal on an even more profound level. You are not going back to square one, I promise. The changes you’ve already made are irreversible. They are so embedded in who you are. This is just your next step, your next opportunity to grow.
What I’ve noticed is that each time my perfectionism shows up, it shows up differently. It has a different angle. It’s lighter. It’s less intense. It doesn’t take me down as often. That’s because I’ve gained perspective, and so I can handle it in a better way.
The point here is to be patient with yourself and get curious.
It’s okay if your ‘crap’ circles back and throws you off, out of nowhere. Welcome it back: “I’m freaking frustrated that you’re here again, but okay, what is it that I need to learn this time?”
Try to turn that frustration into compassion. Know that you are not going back to square one. This is part of your forward movement.
I’m paraphrasing a quote by Robert Brault here, because it made me laugh out loud:
“Taking a step back after taking a step forward is not a disaster. It’s more like a cha-cha.”
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Hi there! I’m Wendy, perfectionism coach and host of the #perfectionistproblems community for recovering perfectionists. I’m insanely passionate about helping you overcome your perfectionism, so that you can stop caring so much about what other people think and finally take on those dream projects that you've been putting off for so long.