A Millennial Woman’s Guide to Overcoming Perfectionism

Do you turn simple tasks into monumental hurdles?  Frequently stressed, depressed & anxious?  Nothing ever good enough?

Yes, me too!

From my own personal experience as a millennial, a perfectionist fears making mistakes and ultimately failure. The definition of perfectionism states that in psychology, “perfectionism, is a personality trait characterized by a person’s striving for flawlessness and setting high performance standards, accompanied by critical self-evaluations and concerns regarding others’ evaluations.”

In other words, you make everything more difficult than needed…but still not happy with the results.

Hello!!

 Nothing’s perfect!!

As a perfectionist, you obsess over every detail that often, the very thing you’re trying to perfect, either never gets done or takes so long to achieve your high standards that it ends with poor results.

So now what?

Inhale…..now exhale…..  Successfully living with perfectionism can be done and you are the perfect person to overcome this! So, let’s get started!!

Understanding Perfectionism

You are not born with perfectionism. Something has caused you to have unattainable standards, be relentlessly self critical and never happy with your own results.

I encourage you to look throughout your life to find the root cause. Sometimes, depending on your unique circumstances, you may need to seek professional help; however, many can overcome without it. Figuring out the root cause can help you turn it around.

For Me:

  • I had very structured & strict parents
  • My dad is a perfectionist
  • I was the youngest of 5, always trying to keep up with my older siblings and seeking their approval, which if you’re the youngest sibling, you know doesn’t happen much
  • I wasn’t taught great social skills but wanted so desperately to be social. I compensated by being a perfect doer. So, to seek approval from others, I did things such as dress great, stayed in shape, very competitive in sports, etc.. (this never worked…these are surfacey items, not what relationships are built on and will not teach you how to socialize. It only makes it worse)
  • I actually wanted to be academically perfect in high school but focused so much on every detail, that I ended up with mediocre grades and just played it off with an “I don’t care” attitude, but in reality, it was tearing me up inside

I do urge you to dig into your life to find the root cause,  but remember, this is not the time to blame others. If someone played a part in you becoming a perfectionist, I’m sure it was not meant.

They are not perfect just like you aren’t. And, if you’ve been living without having a handle on your perfectionism, you may have caused the same for others. Blaming will only set you back. Again, in extreme cases and or traumatic upbringings or situations in your life, you may need to seek professional help. I had a great upbringing, but since nothing is perfect there were some things that affected me, but I’m able to face them head on.

Common Symptoms of Perfectionism

Perfectionism is complex. The cause differs from person to person forming different degrees of perfectionism and can be a multi-faceted issue. Due to the high standards, one with perfectionism can create many other issues.

Here are some common symptoms, this does not mean it is all of the symptoms. These are just some I have personally dealt with but we all are unique and have gone through our own unique situations, so it can look different for others.

  • Stress – because a perfectionist is never satisfied with themselves, it creates a tremendous amount of stress and pressure
  • Anxiety – similar to stress, the unattainable high standards a perfectionist expects from themselves creates anxiety
  • Depression – due to a perfectionist view that their self worth is in their accomplishments and tasks, yet they’re never happy with their performance, they often feel worthless. Unfortunately, this puts Perfectionist at a high risk for suicide
  • Eating Disorders – I haven’t really had trouble here. I care a lot about my body type, but was brought up in an active family and I eat pretty balanced. I have gone a little too far exercising and or eating healthy, but not to the point of an eating disorder, but I know many perfectionist have eating disorders to obtain that “perfect” body
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) – a lot of people get this confused with perfectionism and or someone being extremely neat and organized. OCD can be a symptom of perfectionism because often perfectionist cannot get something out of their head. They obsess over things because they can’t get it perfect. This can cause a repetitive dysfunction that can result in OCD
  • Distraction – I find myself having focus issues and I believe a lot of it stems from not being in the present. For example, I didn’t get the kitchen perfectly cleaned but I had to start working on a blog post. Well, I’m so focused on the non perfect kitchen that I cannot seem to focus on the task at hand, writing

These are some symptoms I feel are a direct bi product of my perfectionism. On the plus side, I feel less anxiety knowing that instead of trying to work on a million issues, I can focus on overcoming the big one causing them all……PERFECTIONISM

Embracing Imperfection

Here are four tips to help you embrace who you are!

  • Now, this is a difficult one that will take lots of practice, constantly going over in your head that your worth doesn’t rest on your achievements, but rests on the type of person you are, meaning not your task and accomplishments but your soul
  • The next time you find yourself becoming anxious or stressed about a task you’re working on, take a step back and put things into perspective. Look around you; nothing is perfect. Some things seem perfect but when you look closer, you realize they aren’t
  • Love yourself enough to be okay with mistakes. Mistakes are a good thing! If you don’t make any, you won’t learn and grow. Keep that in mind when you get down about your performance
  • Put your mistakes or imperfections into perspective. This article I’m writing isn’t perfect, I tried, gave it my best, but it will never be perfect. It still is getting published and helping people. Why should I get anxious, stressed or depressed over that?

Don’t stunt your growth, embrace being imperfect!!

Managing Perfectionism

Beating perfectionism is a work in progress, don’t get down or quit if you don’t see results right away. I believe the following is a quick list to help you manage:

  • Relax
  • Know your worth! (It’s not measured by your task or accomplishments)
  • Take it day and task at a time. If you mess up and start up with old ways, just take a step back, put things into perspective and move forward
  • Make a daily goal list with what your tasks are and what you’d like to accomplish. Don’t worry about making it perfect. If you don’t complete all task or goals, it’s okay! Focus on what you did accomplish. Be POSITIVE!
  • Have a support team. Let the people close to you know what you’re working on so you can get that approval, but for the right reason. You’d be surprised who is dealing with similar issues. Someone with similar struggles can act as an accountability partner or someone who can relate that you can sit and have coffee with and vent or learn from each other
  • Be yourself! Quit looking at people’s post on social media to determine who you are or should be. Do some soul searching and be the true you! Most of what you see on social media isn’t showing the full story anyway

Overcome!

You can do this! You can live a successful life that is not full of stress, anxiety and symptoms. Take it one day at a time, keep moving forward, remember, balance is the key and mistakes help you improve. Start today!

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What tools do you use to cope with perfectionism and what have you  been able to accomplish since doing so?

Let’s empower one another!!