“We are not supposed to be perfect. The challenge is not to be perfect, it’s to be whole.”
– Jane Fonda
Most of our culture has no problem with promoting and encouraging people to present themselves as perfect. I mean most of us see it every day when we log onto Instagram and see a perfectly filtered, altered photo of someone’s face or a lavish vacation. We hear it in conversations with peers where they state “I woke up at 5AM to workout this morning, made myself breakfast, got to work early, led four meetings, then picked up the kids and took them to practice, came home cooked dinner and did a self care routine before bed.” It doesn’t mean someone can’t do all those things, yet where is the room for error? Where are the people discussing how they struggled through their work day because they woke up in the middle of the night from their child having a nightmare or having their friends over despite their house being a hot mess from a week of living? We have to remember what real life looks like through our own eyes compared to the eyes of social media. It’s important to reflect on the bigger entities that benefit from making us feel insecure leading us to feelings of shame as mentioned in the first blog post.
In sessions where my clients struggle with urges to be perfect, I encourage them to work towards becoming their authentic selves. This can happen by helping them to identify their values, participating in more tasks that take care of themselves, or integrating balance in various ways. Below are some ways to shift the maladaptive perfectionism behaviors to balanced healthy striving for self-improvement and personal value.
Ways to challenge perfectionism:
- Increasing flexible/balanced thinking
- Healthy striving for excellence based on personal values vs. perfection
- Challenge personal expectations and look for “good enough”
- Break up goals into smaller steps or delegate as needed
- Integrate mindfulness
- Explore rationale for urges to be perfect, such as core beliefs around not feeling worthy enough
- Meet yourself with compassion when a mistake is made
- Increase acceptance of inability to be perfect and potential costs of striving for perfection
Give yourself grace and patience as you try to add these changes to your life. After all, we typically are living in the same patterns for years or decades before we recognize that they aren’t serving us or our emotional health anymore. Change takes time. To further understand how to implement these changes into your daily life, please feel free to reach out and schedule a session with a clinician at Marvelous Minds today.