Someone very wise once pointed out to me that perfectionism had set my life up so that I was failing 80% of the time. 80%! That means that I was succeeding only 20% of the time, and spending a lot of time feeling like a “failure.” She suggested that I set my life up to succeed 80% of the time by striving for good enough.
Now, that’s a novel idea. How the hell does someone go about doing that? I gave it some thought and here are some things that I came up to help me combat the viciousness of perfectionism …
LOWER YOUR STANDARDS
Which to me means being flexible in the way you do things in your life. For instance, you might choose 1 library book to read, instead of checking out 6 and feeling overwhelmed by the stack staring at you from your bedside table. Or you might let the dishes sit overnight sometimes without beating yourself up about it. Laundry a little wrinkled? Ah well, that’s ok, they are clean after all! Have to invite someone over in order to get the motivation to clean the house? That’s what friends are for! By lowering standards you’ll feel less stressed without that big critical voice shouting into your ear all day long.
LEARN TO CREATE BOUNDARIES AND SAY NO
If you don’t want to do something or when you really don’t have the time to do something, just say no! It’s amazing how much easier this gets with practice, seriously. A phrase I like to use is “that’s not going to work for me” probably because it doesn’t feel as harsh as the word no. The phrase is even better when you start with one of these: “I’m sorry, but …” or “Aw, I’d love to, but …” or “I’ve given it a lot of thought, and …”, drum roll, please … that’s not going to work for me. Ahhhhhh, doesn’t that feel awesome????
TAKE A SOCIAL MEDIA AND MAGAZINE BREAK
All those perfect people with perfect houses, and perfect bodies, and perfect relationships? They aren’t real! If we spend a lot of our time feeding our eyes and our senses with what the magazines are telling us our lives should look like and what we should buy, it can feel really discouraging. So, what do you say to a little break from all the shiny images? Try zeroing in on some of the real things in life. Take a walk and look at people of all shapes and sizes or stop in a second-hand store and hunt for cool stuff. Visit a dog park and watch the pups play – they’ve never even heard of Martha Stewart!
Have you ever heard of the term comparing our insides to other people’s outsides? If you think about it, we do this all the time, don’t we? So and so has it all together, their marriage is so perfect, or I wish I had her life, her body, her career, etc. etc. etc. First of all, it isn’t fair to do this because we don’t have all the information to make an accurate estimate of someone else’s life, marriage or career. We’re going by what we see, not what we know. Secondly, it’s just not useful. It puts us in a constant state of comparing ourselves to others and always coming up short. That, my friends, is no way to live. So, try to nudge your focus to the things you like about yourself and your life. When you start comparing yourself to others, do a quick gratitude list in your head – think of 2 things you like about yourself, and 2 things that you like about your life.
Good enough is good enough for me. Take that, perfectionism : )