Many of us grew up admiring perfection. From our Barbie dolls to brave heroes of our favourite childhood movies, success and flawlessness often seemed so simple to achieve. And now still, so many wish to have that life, to be that person. We admire it. We praise it. We want it. People who get caught up chasing the ideal often become perfectionists. But what is perfectionism, really?
Simply put, perfectionism is the need and belief that we have to be and do everything perfectly. This trait is often seen as helpful and supporting of a successful life. The main assumption is that such people are highly motivated to achieve their goals. Because if you aim for perfection, you’re going to work hard. And if you work hard, you’ll achieve everything you want, right?
Well, it’s not that simple.
Is perfectionism useful?
We often assume that mistakes are our enemies. They make us feel like a failure. So I guess it’s reasonable that we try to make them go away. The other thing is that many people hide their struggles, but flaunt their achievements. And if we only see others living their best lives, it’s easy to start believing that we’re the only ones who struggle.
So, if you want to be as successful as everyone else, just don’t make any mistakes! Easy! Just be perfect like they are and you’re good to go.
The main problem with this?
There is no such thing as ‘perfect’.
Everyone struggles in one way or another. Even if they don’t seem like it. That’s just the reality of being human.
Perfectionism is an unattainable goal. Setting the bar too high only creates more disappointment in all areas of life. The reality of perfectionism is that it’s a giant serving of stress seasoned with unmet expectations. Research has shown that it’s tightly related to various mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, eating disorders, OCD and even self-harm.
Perfectionists often feel paralysed in their actions because nothing is ever good enough. So, their progress in life can be slower than for their more laid back peers. And even when they do achieve great results in life, they do it with much more stress. Plus, they probably still think they could’ve, no, should’ve done better.
You see, what you thought was good about perfectionism is actually doing you harm. You’re in a wild goose chase and you don’t even know it! That’s the biggest trap of perfectionism. You can never catch the rainbow called perfection.
There simply is no such thing.
Signs of perfectionism
In case you’re not sure if you’re a perfectionist or not, here’s a list to help you out:
You’re only focusing on results
It’s hard for you to enjoy the process of learning or working. Your eyes are set on the end goal and once you check that box, you’re immediately looking for the next one.
You can’t relax until you finish a task
You tend to work late hours and often sacrifice your free time to the task at hand. This also means that it’s unusual for you to skip lunch with friends so you can finish what you’ve started. You might not even have friends outside of work! Your relationships often suffer and you tend to be overworked.
You (and others) rarely meet your expectations
You always think that when you achieve something, you’ll be happy. You’ll be enough. But you never are. Or so you think. Also, you get easily disappointed in others. There’s always that one thing that bothers you and you just can’t let it go.
You’re very critical and have low self-esteem
You’re chronically unhappy with your life. You always see so much room for improvement, but no matter how hard you try, you feel like you’ve barely made any progress. Nothing and no one is ever good enough (including you). This tends to push people away.
You’re motivated by fear, not desire
The reason you can’t relax is that you can’t stop thinking about what’ll happen if you make a mistake. Or if you miss a deadline. Or if you turn your paper in before you meticulously check it 5 times in a row. Your fear keeps you working and you might not even know what it is you really want from life.
If your fear doesn’t keep you grinding, then it probably keeps you glued to your sofa. You put things off to the last minute because you’re scared of doing them imperfectly. You feel paralyzed, but you don’t know why.
You’re quick to put yourself down
You’re quick to judge yourself for any little mistake you make. It might not even be a real mistake! You beat yourself up for not reaching your target when, in fact, you set it too far away to begin with.
How to heal from perfectionism with cognitive hypnotherapy in LondonPhoto by Tirachard Kumtanom – Pexels
Embracing vulnerability is one way to defeat perfectionism. Leaning into your discomfort and accepting your imperfect human nature can do so much for your stress levels. When you learn how to be compassionate to your past and present self, you can start living your life with more ease. You’ll find more room for joy, and you might even start celebrating your successes, no matter how small they may be.
You can learn to let go of perfectionism and comparison with the help of cognitive hypnotherapy. In London, the level of competitiveness is almost sky-high. It’s no wonder then that so many people in this gorgeous city struggle with unrealistic expectations. But there are also plenty of opportunities to find just the right type of support to help you heal from perfectionism.
Hypnotherapy creates a safe space for you to process and face your fears if you wish to. It can help you dig down deep into your past to discover the root cause of your perfectionism. A trusted hypnotherapist will help you see things from a different perspective and open the space for you to grow in compassion. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable is not easy. That’s why it’s important to pick a therapist you trust. They will know how to guide you and teach you to appreciate the good enough.