The internal pressure. The fear of failure. The reluctance to take action, opting instead for even more preparation. No one else can help you- they won’t do it right. And oh my, you better not make a mistake.
It’s so exhausting.
You scare yourself into not trying.
You judge yourself before there is any result to judge.
You pre-feel the shame of failure.
You base your assumptions on those false fears that you imagined.
You don’t move towards what you want because you are frozen in the fears you created.
Bottom line: You are your own bully.
Fear serves a purpose- when it’s applicable to the situation. Someone angry has a gun. The tear gas is being deployed. A loved one needs help right away (it creeps me out that the above is relevant in today’s world).
But this inner fear you hold over yourself? It is not reality-based. Not one bit. The internalized false expectations and catastrophized outcome if just one detail is off- this is you being mean to yourself.
I have written about self-talk before, and will again. It is important, even though it is hidden.
It's tempting to think that things we can’t see and touch don’t matter, or that changing internally won’t make a difference.
But nothing matters more than how we feel inside. We can have a life that looks good on the outside, but if we don't feel good on the inside, it doesn't really matter. Our experience of existence is what shapes our days and lives.
That is why it is worth it to look inside at the way we treat ourselves.
To improve the quality of the life we are living while we are here.
It matters how you relate to yourself, what happens inside your mind that no one else is privy to.
And so, my dear fellow perfectionists, let’s try on a new belief.
Mistakes are not personal.
Mistakes happen to inform you that the current process needs tweaking. That’s it.
When you make mistakes personal, you make them about you- “I don’t know enough. I’m not good enough. I should stop trying.” And then you get trapped in feeling poorly about yourself and don’t learn anything.
Instead, allow a mistake to inform you when you’ve hit a bump in your plan that needs smoothing out.
Work on that area, then try again. Usually, you will make it past the first bump, only to find another further along the road.
Now you know where you need to focus next. It’s not personal.
Yes, you are still technically making a mistake. How can you not if you didn’t know a different way to proceed? How can you discover the right path for you if you don’t try some wrong ones for comparison?
Allow it to be process-oriented versus personal.
Make a plan > make a mistake > look at the situation to see what needs to change > try something different > move forward or not.
Personal, perfectionist style:
Make a plan > make a mistake > decide it means you are bad/ a failure/ don’t have what it takes > feel frustrated/ paralysis by analysis > make a more elaborate plan > check it so many times > think about it for a long time > try an abbreviated version > make a mistake.
Notice how much longer the whole thing takes when we go down the self-bullying rabbit hole (no offense to rabbits)?
As a recovering perfectionist, writing that was slightly confronting.
And so I will, along with those of you that are willing, do the following:
I will stop making mistakes personal. I will look at them as information to help me course correct and move forward.
May the force be with us.