I’m a recovering perfectionist- the “I need things to go exactly this way or I’ll hyperventilate” type of perfectionist. I’ve sure you’ve interacted with a few of the sort.I allowed my desire (which had really developed into a dependency) for perfection to taint my view towards my life. I was obsessed with controlling my internal and external situations. I didn’t deal well with unexpected changes and circumstances. In fact, change quite near terrified me and took me long stretches of time to get adjusted to. And it came to a point where I began to feel unhappy with life, simply for the fact that it was not where my thoughts told me I should be.
However, by beginning the process of redefining the way I viewed the not-so-controllable moments of my life allowed me to begin to overcome the obsession with “perfection” and cultivate a life that, while still full of surprises, became more fulfilling. I’ve listed below some of the personal mantras I live by that have helped me encourage my own personal “fall” from perfection(ism).
Approach life as lessons learned rather than where you ‘failed.” I am a firm believer in the idea that every experience carries a unique purpose, whether that be in our own lives or the lives of others. The same sentiment accompanies goal making. Every step we take towards a goal, every change in path, every “should have” or “could have” is teaching us something about ourselves or the world around us. I encourage you to shift the mindset you carry towards your perceived failures. A detour in path may actually be leading you to something beautiful.
The beauty of life is the struggle. This one here is a statement that I repeat to myself daily, write all over my mirrors and tack onto every new journal I get. For me, it's one of the most important lessons to learn. It is quite easy to detail your life through goals- quickly setting another obstacle to overcome to reach once you have reached the prior. However, the problem with this is that we oftentimes use the goal we set as an all or nothing point and deem anything less than that completion as failure. Or, we reach a goal and feel ambivalence where we assumed we would feel euphoria. We forget to honor the personal growth, the lessons learned and strength we have gained in our journey from point A to point B that will help us get from point B to point C. And it is from this lack of acknowledgment of that our feeling of failure stems- we focus on the small progress we have not made rather than praising all the successes we have.
In each goal you create, take time to assess yourself before, during, and after your journey towards the goal. Recognize that success extends beyond the completion of a goal. How have you grown mentally, physically, spiritually? Has your heart grown softer? Do you carry more appreciation? Write down these small changes and congratulate yourself for these milestones.
Making mistakes in front of others is not the end of the world. With social media pervading an overwhelming presentation of “perfection,” the idea of taking a stumble in front of others seems even more terrifying than it might have seemed in years past. But perfection is never reality and no one is immune to low points or struggles or mistakes- no matter how amazing something or someone may appear on the outside. Remind yourself that everyone starts somewhere and love and appreciate yourself both when you rise and when you fall. Congratulate the person that you are and are cultivating yourself to be- one day at a time.
I am fully equipped with the tools necessary to succeed. My power lies within me. And that, it does. Create mantras like these to encourage you on days when you feel a little low. Place them in visible areas where you can easily read them. Remind yourself of the overwhelming power you contain even through difficult circumstances.
I can say that completely changing my attitude perfection has allowed me to live a more fulfilled and enriching life with boundless and amazing opportunities. This is definitely a mindset that is here to stay. If you struggle with bouts of perfectionism, I encourage you to change the lens through which you view “falls from perfection.” Perhaps you may unlock something beautiful about your situation in the process.
Do you sometimes view life with the lens of a perfectionist? How do you cope? Share tips below!
originally published october 2017