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A perfectionist may feel very put together. Have reached important life and career milestones. Have family, friends and a busy social calendar, and yet you feel off.

Unwind Perfectionism

Feel something is still lacking? But what is it? 

Could you be a perfectionist?
Perfectionism is a "personality trait characterized by a person's striving for flawlessness and setting high performance standards." (Wiki)

It is important to ask yourself questions, such as:

  • How did you learn that being 'perfect' served you well as a coping mechanism? As a child, were you in a home where love was withheld? Was there something going on in the family that required you to stay invisible to stay safe? Or maybe you felt you needed to compete for attention? If so, is the dynamic still persistent within your family.
  • How is your life organized now? Do you have trouble being flexible? What happens when something doesn’t go as planned or you were to spill coffee on yourself on the way to work? What is it like when you make a mistake? How do you feel about yourself?
  • What is the quality of your relationships? Does you tend to keep people at a distance? Does you share yourself fully, or do you carefully hide parts of yourself that you view as unlovable? What is the result of that?

There are countless scenarios that can contribute to someone feeling they have to be perfect or hide their flaws to be loved or worthy of love. Understanding your why can allow you to focus on challenging those beliefs you may have that are not true.

Have compassion for yourself as you work through your past and current survival techniques. 

  • Give yourself permission to feel the way you feel. It is okay to be sad or mad or depressed or anxious. You don't have to be 'perfect'. 
  • Understand that your behaviors have served you well. You should love that part of yourself. You were always doing your best in each moment equipped with what knowledge and understanding you had.
  • Explore the parts of yourself that you tend to keep hidden. Listen to the thoughts, the feelings and emotions that come up. Give yourself love and compassion. 
  • Explore how you show up in your current relationships. Are some relationships that are closer and more authentic than others? How do those relationships differ and how do they feel?
  • Slowly take small risks on being less 'perfect' and love yourself through it.

Unwinding yourself from perfectionism may be a long process, don’t rush it. As you begin to do the deep work of processing, understanding, and changing lifelong beliefs and behaviors, don’t be surprised if you find yourself going back to those old habits. This is normal. 

Talking with a therapist to help support you through this can be very beneficial.