I have known for a long time that I have issues with perfectionism…that is, at least trying to attain it. All the time. In everything I do. Not very realistic, I know. My issues seem to have ramped up this year for a variety of reasons, and I’ve done a lot of thinking about the why’s and the how-to-let-it-go’s.
It’s not been all bad- nothing ever is, is it? That perfectionism has helped me to be successful in my career, has helped me lose weight (several times, in fact..sigh), and has helped me achieve goals in several other areas of my life. However, perfectionism can also be a crippling addiction. Nothing is ever good enough. And the realization that no matter how hard I try, I can never be truly perfect? That is a tough one for me to wrap my mind around.
So, I wonder…how do I let go of a habit/instinct/mindset that has been such a huge part of who I am from my earliest memories? I learned from the beginning that doing all of “the right things” brought praise and love from my mother, my teachers, and my family. I knew Mom loved me no matter what, but, even as a child, seeing how much she had been wounded by the divorce, I realized how important it was to not hurt her. As for my father, he was only impressed by very impressive things; straight A’s, scholarships, first chair. There was no real chance of ever earning his approval even after checking all those boxes…but, oh, how I tried.
I ended up being drawn to those people who I could never really please- a propensity that has haunted me in some of my most important relationships. At least I am aware of the signs now and can be more proactive about not giving myself over to the hurtful behaviors of people who are narcissistic and selfish…though it is still not easy to keep myself from being drawn in by the lure that type seems to hold over me.
All I can do it try every day to accept my humanness, to give myself the same understanding that I give others when they make mistakes. I don’t know why it is so hard for me to do that, but it is. My first inclination is always to beat myself up when I have failed to meet the bar of what I consider to be acceptable…and the bar is always higher for me. One day at a time, one change at a time. I am just grateful to finally be trying to face the problem and work to grow through it. That will have to be good enough for now.