Perfectionism is Poison to Your Spirit


Q: Why is it that I find myself drained, and I feel like I am running around in a hamster wheel? I see all my friends managing and juggling their perfect lives so much better than me, and it makes me feel like a total failure compared to them. Help!

A: The pressure that some feel to be “perfect” can not only come across as “fake” by others, but the amount of stress it can put on you personally is immense! Women more commonly feel the need to be perfect, and typically, perfectionism takes over more than one aspect of your life. I know this all too well. Perfectionism is my middle name—or shall I say WAS my middle name. It was something I picked up at a young age from my father who is a perfectionist himself, and it imposed a lot of pressure and control on both of us. For years, I thought that the way I was is normal, and I kept on living a life filled with stress and unrealistic expectations. Honestly, it really destroyed me. As if my self-esteem wasn’t broken enough, the constant pressure to be perfect and the unrealistic performance expectations imposed by my “I should’s”, was just, well, insane!!

I was constantly stressed, I felt drained, and most of all, I was never happy or feeling accomplished with my achievements.

The best way to determine if you are a perfectionist is to see if you can relate to any of the scenarios I’ve listed below. Once you determine whether or not you possess these qualities, it’s imperative to start the journey of welcoming and appreciating who you ARE, instead of trying to kill yourself to attain an image or goal that will not result in happiness.

Home Life:

  • Do you find yourself constantly cleaning, because your home always has to be perfect?

  • Do you lose sleep because you work outside of the home and you obsess over every little detail?

  • Do you ever feel pressure to compete with the homes of your neighbors?

Family Life:

  • Do your kids have to look perfect all the time?

  • Do you stress about their clothes, hair, etc.?

  • Do you obsess over the extracurricular activities that your kids participate in? They have to be in the best sports, with the best teams and be the best participant.

Personal/Work Life:

  • Do you change your outfit a bunch of times in the morning?

  • Do you lose sleep because you’re so dedicated to work and you want to be an overachiever?

  • Do you constantly look at yourself in a negative way or possess negative self-talk?

  • Do you go out of your way to be a person that you don’t really think you are deep down?

Of course, these are only a few examples of ways that a perfectionist might act. If you see yourself in any of these scenarios, it’s important to understand why you are this way. Is it because your parents were perfectionists? Do you feel like appearing “perfect” is the only way for you to be confident in your day-to-day activities? Or maybe you surround yourself with other perfectionists, and you constantly compete with each other without even realizing it.

Over the years, I have learned that many perfectionists really suffer from a damaged self-esteem, and pursuing perfectionism is not the answer to this problem. Quite the contrary—it will actually fuel the negative self-talk and keep you stuck in your low-vibe and lack of self-love and acceptance.

You may not realize this, but appearing “perfect” gets you nowhere. In fact, it deprives you of sleep, starves you of valuable connections, altars your confidence and limits your happiness. A perfectionist’s work is never done. There is a constant desire to do more, do better and overachieve. This isn’t meant to be confused with passion and drive. Usually, with a perfectionist, the contrary holds true. The only thing that’s driving a perfectionist is the need to be “perfect”…correction, the need to appear perfect! A perfectionist will tend to have fake conversations and won’t be their most authentic self. This puts their ability to have more friends in jeopardy. While you might think that a perfectionist would be full of confidence, that’s only what they want you to think. Deep down, those who appear to be the most perfect are the ones hurting the most inside.

So, what do you do if you’re a perfectionist?

  1. Boost your confidence—do things for YOU only! Things that bring you joy and peace of mind.

  2. Rest more and take the time to just BE. You are a human BEing NOT DOing.

  3. Practice letting the little things go. I always tell myself—It’s not perfect and I am perfectly fine with it. (Then smile to yourself.)

  4. Stop worrying about what others think of you! It is none of your business.

  5. If you are easily influenced or triggered by social media, stop scrolling through your social newsfeed for a while. (I had to do this after realizing that it triggered my insecurities and pushed me to strive for unrealistic goals.)

  6. Accept your authentic self. Get to know it, embrace it and love it.

  7. Give yourself permission to understand that not all things are meant to be under your control.

  8. Choose your battles—don’t sweat the small stuff. I always ask myself if something will matter in a year from now. It usually doesn’t.

  9. Learn to ask for help (help around the house, help packing lunches, help at work, etc). Yes, you heard right—ASK FOR HELP!—something perfectionists hate doing. You do NOT need to be able to do it all on your own. You are human!!!!

  10. Start journaling. If you can’t open up to others, start by opening up to yourself. Write down your thoughts, struggles, emotions, or bullet journal a to-do list and prioritize the most important things, and let go of or delegate the things that really don’t matter or that can be postponed. Journaling was and is a lifesaver for me.

I also read a lot of books that were really helpful. You might want to read In Pursuit of Perfect. I really enjoyed it.

As soon as you come to the realization that you are a perfectionist, start making a change. I know that it is a hard thing to change, and I will be the first to admit that I am constantly working on it, but the rewards you will reap from it are PRICELESS. You will finally start living an authentic life, and trust me, there is nothing like that!