Little Miss Perfect
Are you a perfectionist? If so, chances are you’re making your life harder than it has to be. Perfectionism is not the same as striving to be your best. It’s not healthy because we push ourselves beyond sensible limits resulting in anxiety.
According to Wikipedia: “Perfectionism, in psychology, is a personality trait characterized by a person’s striving for flawlessness and setting high performance standards, accompanied by critical self- evaluations and concerns regarding others’ evaluations.”
People with self-critical perfectionist tendencies are intimated by their own high standards and may feel they can’t reach their own goals. And that’s when negative self-talk creeps in and we hear the voice in our head saying things like, “I’m not good enough” – which is a very common thought, unfortunately.
In early April I studied at Birbeck College at the University of London to teach self-hypnosis because I want to give people yet another tool for which they can help themselves. Some of you may be surprised to learn that the following issues were listed for which self-hypnosis can help:
As a hypnotherapist & NLP practitioner, I know that perfection isn’t a desired goal because it can wreak havoc with one’s mind-set. I know this to be true because I’m a recovering perfectionist.
When I worked in Finance, I had a manager who used to say to me at my staff reviews that it would do me good to stop measuring myself against perfection. He didn’t explain why. Being a Buddhist he would leave me to discover and learn things on my own. This comment was his nudge for me to look at my need to be perfect. I knew my perfectionism stemmed from my dysfunctional upbringing.
In my early 20’s, I attended group meetings for Adult Children of Alcoholics. (ACOA) I was given a book entitled ‘Little Miss Perfect’ by Megan Le Boutillier. It was an eye-opener for me in that I Iearned that children take on various roles to cope with chaos. The role I chose was Miss Perfect.
According to the author, “Adults who grew up in alcoholic or otherwise dysfunctional homes often adopt behaviours to deal with chaos and neglect around them – behaviours that no longer work for them as adults. Repressing spontaneity, over-controlling, reacting impulsively from fear and rejecting our own playfulness are just some of the coping mechanics that become obsolete and destructive when carried into adult life.”
I highly recommend this book for anyone who grew up in chaotic dysfunction.
I remember being so embarrassed by my mother’s drunken behaviour especially in my teen years when her alcoholic, abusive boyfriend came to live with us. At the peak of the insanity, I came home from school to find a large pot of spaghetti sauce had been thrown into the TV screen – sauce in the TV, on the floor and all up the walls. My mom and beau were passed out in their bedroom. I suppose this was the remnant of one of their fights.
Then there was the time my grandmother came to visit. Grandma was also an alcoholic. I found her urinating in a shoe by the front door instead of the restroom. I share this you because as a young teenager, how does one make sense of these moments? I took control because I had to for fear I’d be sucked into their vortex of dysfunction. And so, Miss Perfect was born. And as I think back, I do believe she was needed then to cope, to find her way out of all that.
However, she didn’t serve me later in life. Sure I became a rock star in the Finance industry but at what cost? I became a workaholic. I spent too many weekends working when I could have been playing and when I eventually left the industry; I was burnt out, disillusioned and exhausted.
Finally it was time to give up ‘being perfect’ as it’s no way to be in peace.
Most do engage in perfectionist behaviour from time to time but all the time it can be crippling. We may find that we are unable to perform tasks unless they can be done perfectly or just don’t start until they can be perfect. There can be a correlation with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). OCD is a way of coping with extreme anxiety and people who struggle feels their OCD behaviour helps them maintain a sense of control.
I have also come to realize that it’s important to let go of trying to control. I practice the ancient Vedic spiritual law, the Law of Detachment, “ I commit to detachment; I accept uncertainty; I step into the field of all possibilities.”
Once we understand that ‘being perfect’ and ‘in control’ is not serving us well and decide to love ourselves instead and let go of trying, we enjoy freedom. Funny, I find myself relaxing just writing the last two paragraphs. Our unconscious communicates with emotions and the calm I’m feeling now is very good indeed. It seems as though ‘detachment’ works well for me.
“Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach It.” – Salvador Dali