Practising Perfectionism.

My name is Katherine and I am a recovering perfectionist……

Actually, perhaps let’s lose the ‘recovering’ bit of that sentence and just let’s consider the possibility that maybe, I have particularly high standards and expectations of myself. Oh balls to it – I’m a perfectionist. There said it!

Now in order for me to be good at this perfectionism shizzle, I evidently had a fair amount of practice. In fact for as long as I can remember, I’ve had this thing going on that ‘good enough’ isn’t really good enough.

Now, I’d be the first to agree with you, if you said that that doesn’t sound such a bad thing. I mean it’s good to strive to do better isn’t it? And it’s perhaps good to look at a situation and learn from it and decide the ways in which you may tweak things were you in that same place again, right? And we can always improve can’t we?

The difficulty with this search for Nirvana, whether it be applied to career, relationships or maybe even yourself; is that it doesn’t actually achieve anything does it, other than the necessity to benchmark yourself against impossible standards? And because these standards are so high, really they can only serve to point you in one direction – The Procrastination Pit.

The Procrastination Pit is where you can totally screw yourself over in the search for the perfect solution to your problem. It’s the place where you question yourself. What if I’m not good enough? What if people don’t like me, or my work? Maybe I should start again or think about this a little more? Maybe I shouldn’t do anything, until I’ve worked out how to climb over these ridiculous standards I’ve set for myself….

This pit is also place of fear, the place where we tell ourselves we aren’t enough. Where we worry over the judgement of others, mould and adapt our behaviour into some other unrecognisable being that we feel will be ‘enough’ for ourselves and or others, whatever that ‘enough’ is.

But just let me clarify a little, these ridiculously high standards aren’t aimed at you or you, or even you. I, and probably you, if you’ve been practising your own form of perfectionism; wouldn’t dream of casting my eye and judging you with the harshness that I reserve for myself. Why? Well, because that would be massively unfair. It would be ridiculous of me to expect you to be perfect, wouldn’t it? And because I’m realist, I know that as humans, we all make mistakes, so no, I don’t expect you to be perfect… Just me!

There are two points to my story. I’m a coach, I deal with this stuff all the time, yet I missed it in myself. I missed what I was doing. So, I wondered if I missed these signs of self sabotage, then perhaps you may miss them too – easily done when you get closely involved, when you’re passionate about something or someone. Sometimes you need to take time out to check in with you! Check out if the story that’s running through your head is actually true, or if it should perhaps start “Once upon a time…” You know in your gut if something is off kilter. You know if you take the time to listen to your truth.

Truth is often a very quiet voice easily drowned by the clamour of life and busyness. By the need to do more and be more. Slow down and take time to listen, take time out from the chaos, it’s usually where the best answers are, not in the trying and pushing harder, which is instinctively what we seem to do in times of stress and worry.

My second point is based around the idea of feeling the fear. Or maybe as the late Susan Jeffers says, “Feel the fear and do it anyway.” See, much of what held me back, was the fear. The fear of what if…… Procrastination, faffing, generally coming up with a hundred valid reasons (excuses) not to do something, is all fear based stuff – and that could be anything from producing a newsletter to ending a relationship. From leaving a job you hate through to sorting your finances. We all have our own stuff. The trick is, to find out which one is yours. To notice you’re faffing, you’re putting things off. Your need to make things bigger and better in an attempt to distract yourself from the original issue. To not then be scared to peel back the edges and wonder what is going on underneath! To face your fear and do it anyway!

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