So you think that being a perfectionist is something to be proud of? Well unfortunately you are wrong!
Yes it is hard to believe that trying to be perfect is not good for your mental health, so take a look at why loosening up on your standards might be good for you. So you’re a perfectionist. Your standards are so high that it’s nearly impossible to keep up. Part of being a perfectionist is believing that this is the only way to live, and that anyone else who is not a perfectionist is not up to your standard. Whilst this might seem like a part of ourselves that we can be proud of, it actually has negative effects on our mental health. Forcing yourself and others around you to live up to your perfectionist standards actually puts a dampener on things. Time to figure out why its not actually good for you and what you can do about it.
1. Your perfectionism actually causes you to be more stressed then if you weren’t a perfectionist
Perfectionists think that if they do everything perfect that everything will go to plan. But the fact is that life doesn’t go to plan, even when you do everything right. So why bother being perfect? If you do your best and then just go with it, you won’t be constantly worried about what might happen or keeping your perfect record. Do you ever wish that you could not care about something? You know, to not be perfect? You know your friends that seem to float through life without stressing about the perfect job, the perfect partner, the perfect life – they actually seem to have it all don’t they. It is no co-incidence and it is due to their happy go lucky attitude that all these good things.
2. Perfectionists actually waste more time than those who are not perfectionists that make mistakes
What? No way! Yes way. Because you spend so much time making sure things are perfect, you spend unnecessary time doing things and making checks that don’t need to be done. Have you ever spent ages trying to fix your hair? Only to realise that it was way better when you did it quickly the first time? This is the perfectionist curse on show. Have you ever spent so much time on an assignment or on a task at work? Only to find out that you made a mistake anyway.. Often if we go with our gut, give it a good effort and then move on, without any regard for the consequences, life will flow a lot easier. You will make mistakes, but you wont be stressed out by them, or waiting for them to happen. Accept that they will happen and fix the problems when they come up.
3. You think that being a perfectionist is something people admire about you – but they actually don’t
This is one that I struggled to deal with when I was younger. I thought that being a perfectionist was something to be proud of, and that everyone wished they could be like me. Boy was I wrong. People actually don’t like perfectionists, or people that try and have everything go their own way, or know-it-all’s. When you think about your family, friends and those you work with, they all much prefer the company of people that are fun, happy go lucky, and do not see the world in the perfectionist black and white eyes of right and wrong. Loosen up a little and know that no one is perfect, so just enjoy being you. Importantly you need to know that no one else you live with is perfect either, so cut them some slack – which leads me to my next point.
4. You think that being a perfectionist with your relationships
I hope you are getting the point by now.. that being a perfectionist is not cool. Relationships and friendships are ultimately about liking someone for who they are, and not because they are perfect, have the perfect life, or never make any mistakes. By you being a perfectionist, even if you don’t put these views on to people, they will still not feel totally at ease with you around, because they feel like you are judging them because they aren’t perfect. In the dating game, its totally the same. Your relationships will suffer (or be non existent) if people feel they cannot open up and be vulnerable in front of you – and a key part of that is you being vulnerable, or imperfect as well. Relax a little and have fun being the average person that you are. Think about the rich and famous, our politicians, move stars, world leaders. Are any of them perfect? How many of them end up in a scandal or in hot water for taking the wrong actions?.. So if they aren’t perfect, why do you need to be?
5. No one cares about your perfect record, or if you make mistakes, so why should you?
Perfectionists feel like someone is keeping score on your mistakes. We only look at the things we did wrong. If you did 99 things right at work and then made 1 mistake, you would hound yourself for making such a stupid slip up. 99 out of 100 is pretty good right? Even if you feel like you can do nothing right some days, you actually are doing a lot right. You are still alive, still breathing, still being able to understand that you made mistakes that day – so that tells me that only part of your day was a stuff up. Sounds like an average day, stop beating yourself up and understand that everyone has these days.
So what can you do to be less of a perfectionist?
Im guessing this post has come as a huge shock to you, but you know that it is needed, and you might even have a sense of relief knowing that someone else who was a total perfectionist has been able to become aware that perfectionism is not cool, and done something about it. So I want you to start with small steps. The first thing to do is start being AWARE of when you are acting like a perfectionist. Start noting when these moments present themselves, like when your getting changed in the morning and your planned outfit doesn’t seem perfect. When you are cleaning the kitchen and you want to remove every little mark on the bench. When you are at work and you want your files and office space all perfect and in order. This is step one. Step two involves letting these things go, a little bit at a time. Now I’m not saying to leave the kitchen messy, or go to work half dressed, or throw all your office files on the floor – but I am saying to loosen up on what standard you are holding these things to. So yes, I want you to lower your standards! Start noticing things about a person or each time you walk in a room that are not perfect. Look for the average in everything! And then apply this to yourself. You’ll notice that even a brand new showroom is not perfect, so again, why do you need to be?
Time to stop being perfect! Be average!
This sounds like nothing you’ve ever read before, but trust me it will work. Being average will empower you to know that it is ok not to be perfect. People will still love you, you will make mistakes, and the world will still go around. Be less perfect and know that you’ll actually have better relationships, more fun, more friends, get more work done, and live a lifestyle full of health and wellness. Go out and be average!
PS – I haven’t edited this post in an act of being average to prove my point, so for the perfectionists out there (like I use to be), lighten up and have some fun with it 😛
About the author – Stef – Mental Health Advocate
Stef is a mental health advocate who dedicates much of his free time to improving his own and others mental health. Click here to have a read about Stef’s story and why he is so passionate about mental health, wellness and positive living.