Have you ever felt the desire or need to be perfect, either in some area of your life or across all of it? Maybe you want your appearance to look perfect or feel a drive to portray a perfect life to others. For some, it seems that no matter how much they have or what they achieve, they’re always striving for more, to be better.
There’s nothing wrong with having goals—it can be wonderfully motivating to have something to work towards—but when what you’re striving for is perfection, you’re always going to find yourself lacking. Between perceiving the need to project the perfect life on social media, maintain the perfect body, be the perfect parent, partner, friend, employee—this drive for perfection that’s permeating modern culture is simply not attainable. And it’s only going to exhaust you.
If your perfectionism streak is strong, here are four suggestions to help you curb it.
1. Explore your inner landscape
To get to the heart of the beliefs that are holding your behaviours and actions in place, it’s helpful to explore your inner landscape to see why you feel the need to do things in the manner that you do, despite knowing better. Why do you feel the need to be perfect? Where did it come from? Naming beliefs and exploring the feelings that arise is an ongoing, exciting and heart-opening process. One of the best ways that I know to explore your inner landscape is to journal. It allows us to open up a conversation with ourselves and begin to reflect on what’s happening for us internally. If you’re new to journaling or if you feel you need some more specific questions try writing down your answers (usually our beliefs are tied to some of the first things that come to mind) to these questions, or come up with ones that feel more potent for you:
- “I know I should stop but…”
- “When I look at myself I see…”
- “The most important thing in life is to…”
2. Spend some time in play
If you’ve been bitten by the perfectionist bug, chances are you are caught up in achieving and always racing from one task to another. What do you love to do for fun? What can you do at least once on a weekly basis that takes you out of ‘doing’ and into ‘being’? Make room for play and for fun—and notice how it helps to relax that perfectionist energy.
3. Take a break from social media
Social media presents endless moments to compare your life with others. Remember though that you are usually comparing your whole life against someone else’s highlights reel. Not everything you see on social media is real and most people do not share their darker, more challenging experiences either. You might like to delete the apps from your phone so it’s not as easy to get online or just take a hiatus for a while. Notice how it reduces you scratching the itch of your not enoughness.
4. Focus on supporting (or improving) your energy
It is more difficult to have supportive self-talk when we are fatigued. Make more choices that support your energy and take steps to minimise the choices you make that you notice actually take away from your energy. Notice the foods, drinks, thoughts and perhaps even people who do this. Ask yourself “will this nourish me?” before making any choices and let that answer be your guide.