Surprisingly, it wasn’t until my mid thirties that I realized that I was a perfectionist. My mother always told me I was one, but I thought she was to blame as she exhibited the same sad behaviors that I did. She had a specific way that all chores were to be accomplished around the house. If chores weren’t done in the exact manner she liked than she would go and finish them the way she thought they should be done. Mom had a specific way for everything! I can admit it. I am like my mother but worse.
As a child I simply thought that Portuguese people were extremely neat and tidy. As an adult I now know they are (neat and tidy that is) but it is also because I come from a long line of female Perfectionists. With this, I place blame on the Portuguese culture, which strongly encourages women to value the opinions of others over their own. Therefore, creating multiple generations of women who strive to achieve something that is virtually impossible, perfection.
I must admit it I take perfectionism to another level. Why am I so (for lack of a better word) anal?
Gratefully, after many years I have learned that being perfect is NOT the best way of life for me. It may not be the best way of life for you either and here’s why…
Life is messy and filled with uncontrollable moments of joy and bliss as well as moments of sadness or guilt. Life just happens, and the harder we try to control it the more we end up losing control. When we are constantly struggling to seek perfection we miss most of the little things throughout the day that bring us joy, as we are spending too much time trying to perfect everything! We miss the intoxicating smell of the roses, or the friendly smile from a neighbor, a missed call from our long time childhood friend or the sweet glance from our lifetime partner.
Time that is spent trying to PERFECT LIFE takes away life! We miss numerous opportunities throughout the day that could bring us so much JOY! When you realize this, you realize how much time you have wasted.
Why do women torment themselves with such high standards? When we learn to lean in and unleash our tight little claws from the incessant need for perfection we realize that being in the messy actually feels pretty nice. Life happens in the messy. There is truth in the messy.
Truth be told, most perfectionists never realize that they suffer from this disorder, nothing is ever perfect enough and everything must be perfect. Webster’s dictionary defines perfect as, “having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics” or “as good as it is possible to be” or even as simple as being “complete”. I have spent a lifetime seeking a “feeling” that is unattainable, only because true perfection does not exist. So how many of you out there are like me?
I have some suggestions to help soothe your inner perfectionist so that you can focus on the here and now. Acknowledge moments when you feel the need to perfect something (when you feel the most anxiety). Practice a breathing exercise. Take a moment and breathe it in and breathe out. Begin to journal when you experience your perfectionist at its highest. Journaling acts as a tool to reflect upon and identify when you are at your weakest.
More importantly, love yourself wholeheartedly and acknowledge that you are taking positive steps towards a better self.