Tag Archives: perfectionist

19Nov/12

Daring Greatly or Stretching Too Far

On the Chrissy B Show discussing Perfectionism

Two weeks ago I was invited to talk about perfectionism on the Chrissy B Show on Sky TV.  At first I was flattered, then I was excited, then I started to get scared.  I said yes, because it’s a topic close to my heart, made plans, then seriously wished I hadn’t.

As my inner gremlins set about me I began to feel worse and worse. I couldn’t relax, I couldn’t work, I couldn’t concentrate on the children. I was in meltdown. Completely overwhelmed by stressful emotions, it certainly was a weird few days. I thought I knew what was happening: I was just scared about doing something new, about being vulnerable and ‘out there’ with the potential to look foolish or rubbish in front of other people.  I endlessly rationalised: it will be ok, and if it isn’t that’s ok too. I’ll learn from it and I’ll still be loved by those who are important to me. I told myself that it would be fun to see a working TV studio, great to meet new people and a change from my normal life. I knew all this so why did I still feel so bad?  I ‘should’ be able to deal with this.

At other times I tried to convince myself to cancel, but my pride wouldn’t let me and I knew that in the long run it was a positive thing to do. But I found it difficult to justify much of the time. I’m all for pushing my boundaries, but to feel sick with nerves for a week felt like too much of a price to pay. Too much for my children to pay as well, since it was their mother who was away with the fairies one minute and snapping at them the next.

Gradually it became clear to me that the reason I was so scared and worried was because the situation was something I was not in control of, and because of that, I couldn’t guarantee that it would run smoothly.  These – I suddenly realised – are my two big perfectionist ideals. I was also ‘shoulding’ myself too much:  ‘I should be able to deal with this.’  I ‘shouldn’t let this affect my family.’  Being aware of why I was feeling so bad, made me feel a lot better.  Understanding yourself really does go a long way to improving the situation.

Last Monday I got the train to London and appeared on the show.  And, actually, it was fun, and I really enjoyed myself. The presenter, producer and other guests were lovely, friendly and interesting people.   I wasn’t half as nervous on the day, perhaps because I was living it rather than thinking and planning for it in advance.

So what’s the lesson here? Mainly that feeling bad is not all bad, because if we allow them to, negative emotions can teach us so much. It also strengthened my belief that my family is the most important thing to me.  Being successful professionally is very important to me, but will never take priority over looking after my young family.

On the way home, I was proud of myself for getting out there and giving it a go.  It didn’t go horribly wrong.  And at the end of the day, I’m still the same person, still worth the same as every other human being on the planet. I had just been lucky enough to add another new experience to that journey called life.

If you are interested in watching the programme here it is.

09Mar/11

Dear Mum, You don’t have to….

Jasmine's 'grumpy' picture

“Dear Mum, You don’t have to be grumpy. You can calm down when you want to. Remember you have a good husband and 3 children who can make you happy.”

Striving for perfection doesn’t mean your life is always on an upward trajectory.  It may motivate you to improve, and keep you focussed on trying to get better but paradoxically stops you achieving it. Aiming for perfection will often make you feel, perform and  behave worse because you are constantly disappointed by or scared of failing to reach the high standards you set for  yourself.

When my daughter gave me the picture – above – it brought home to me in all it’s innocence who I affect when I am so deeply disappointed in myself (and sometimes others).  Being annoyed with myself and grumpy with the world only hurts myself and the people around me who I love. It doesn’t help me improve. Instead it knocks the confidence, hope and motivation out of me. It makes me forget what a wonderful life and family I have, and that they love me being imperfect.  It’s a shame I needed a 6 year old to show me that.

02Feb/11

Whare did all the Time go?

I’ve realised I’ve got a problem with time.

I am almost paralysed by fear that I might not choose the best thing to do in the time available to me.  I am constantly thinking about how to best use my time, what can I do to be most effective, to be most productive, to achieve the most. Which things do I want to achieve in the time I have this week?  What is the most important thing for me?  Should I put my family and children’s interest first – are they more important? Or should I put my business first because obviously if I’m happy with work, then I’m a happier and better mum and wife.  The constant choices I bombard myself with are never-ending.  What should I do? Who should I be? What do I want to achieve?  What do I want to do? What is best? What is most important?

What I am really asking is:  When will I ever get there? When will I ever be good enough? Who do I even want to be? How can I create perfection? How can I feel satisfied?

Its exhausting. And needless to say, it doesn’t get me anywhere. It poisons my creativity and spontaneity and joy.  I am ground down by the supposed seriousness of the constant decisions I have to make on ‘the best use of my time’. I am always judging myself, and the choices I make.  I have to make the perfect decision. And I can’t. And its making me crazy.

So I’ve decided to stop striving.  I have just started reading a book by Brene Brown called The Gifts of Imperfection in which she says the difference between people who live a wholehearted life (i.e. people who are truly happy) and those who don’t is their belief that they are enough, already.  In other words they don’t have to prove anything. Instead they are brave and open and vulnerable and connected and they believe they are worthy.  So that’s my challenge for the next few weeks* – to remind myself that I am enough already, and that I don’t always need to make the right decisions and use my time perfectly to be a worthy person. I am one already.

*I think I meant to say ‘years’…

The Gifts of Imperfection

15Dec/10

What is a Perfectionist?

In my life, being a perfectionist means:

  • I expect to get everything done.
  • I want to feel in control – ie everything must be going right and running smoothly.
  • If things go wrong life isn’t perfect anymore, and that’s a problem.
  • If I have a problem, I should be able to work at it and sort it out.
  • I’m not allowed to get angry, because it means things are not running smoothly.
  • I’m not allowed to feel physically tired, or have an afternoon slump, because that stops me getting things done.
  • I love getting things done, or rather I love having done lots of things.
  • There is always something else to be done.
  • I should be able to translate all (or at least most) of the ideas in my head into reality.
  • Because I can’t act on all my ideas and get them done, it means I am not the mum I wanted to be. Or the successful professional/business woman I wanted to be.
  • Not meeting these expectations makes me feel like a failure – however unattainable they are.
  • Being a perfectionist is the only way I can be.

Until now. As I’ve recently  realised, it’s time for change.  Being a perfectionist no longer serves me or my family.  Reading some of the above sentances makes it clear how skewed my thinking has become due to this expectation of perfection.  So I’m going on a crash course in being kinder to myself and lowering my expectations.   To get me out of the habit of setting high expectations, wanting every moment to be perfect, and needing to be in control at all times my mantra will be:

  • I don’t want to be perfect.
  • I’m aiming for imperfection.
  • It is ok for me (and my family) to have a rainbow of emotions in one day.

I just need to remind myself, one moment at a time, that there is another choice.  I won’t make that choice every time. I will automatically think my ingrained perfectionist thoughts, but I’m starting now to try and replace them, and it’s ok to do that imperfectly.