“I have to keep running toward my goals to catch up. I already feel so behind.” “I need to keep smiling and pretending I have it all together. No one can see my flaws.” “Everyone expects me to be the helper. I can’t disappoint them.” “If I make a mistake, I am a failure. And no one likes a failure.” Do you recognize any of these scripts? Do they reflect your internal dialogue?
In the world of perfectionism and performance, these high-stakes scripts can be the water we swim in. When we slow down and hear these messages out loud, their false arguments can easily be spotted . However, some of us live with these tapes running on repeat through our minds, unchecked.
There are likely good reasons some of us have these scripts. Maybe a parent, coach or mentor sent the message that we must never fail loud and clear. Maybe we experienced mistakes paired with rejection and vowed never to experience that pain again. Maybe the belief of not being enough was adopted somewhere along the way. Thus, striving to be perfect, to hide flaws, to always provide value became auto-pilot.
The perfectionism mindset can be very helpful in some ways. It can push us to be good students, athletes, moms, business owners, etc. We can be highly motivated by messages of shame and rejection. Unfortunately, this way of operating can also lead to severe anxiety, burn out, depression, and anger. So, how do we rewrite our internal dialogue? How do we hire a new internal voice?
1. Practice radical self-acceptance.
If we come from a place of value and worth, we can parent, work, and live well without the emotional and mental fallout.
2. Align values with actions.
Living a value driven life looks much different than a perfectionism driven life. Determine your deepest values and consistently remind yourself that living congruently with them is important.
3. Get comfortable with failure.
Story after story in history tells us that perfectionism does not lead to success, but that failure, risk, and resilience do. Try things you are not good at and be willing to make mistakes.
Mistakes, needs, limits, strengths, abilities, resilience, and all the qualities that make up each of us, are woven together in a beautiful tapestry that we call humanity. Let’s give ourselves the freedom to be human today and let perfectionism fall away.