Remember that scene in the film Mary Poppins where she uses a tape measure which describes people?
The little boy is described as ‘extremely stubborn and suspicious’.
The little girl is described as ‘rather inclined to giggle and doesn’t put things away’.
And Mary Poppins herself? Well, of course, she’s ‘practically perfect in every way’.
Though we know rationally that no-one’s perfect, it still seems like a good number of us are continue to strive for perfection in various aspects of our lives.
We’re still assailed by media images of celebrities with perfect figures, perfect hair, perfect teeth, perfect skin. They’re show with doting partners, spotless houses and driving top of the range, sparklingly clean cars. They have children who are always immaculately dressed and behave well. They dress well with never a hair out of place, and they excel at whatever they do.
We see celebrities chasing eternal youth via plastic surgery to the point where they no longer look like themselves.
Of course the reality is that much of what we see is controlled by their PR machine, which operates in the background, always presenting them in the best possible light.
Phew, it must be exhausting! All that pressure to look and be as close to perfect as possible at all times.
Yet that’s not what many ‘ordinary’ people see. They see the perfect lives of their favourite celebrities and they want to emulate them.
And so they end up locked in a never-ending battle to have the same kind of ‘perfection’ for themselves and their family. Yet that’s without the kind of resources that celebrities have behind them.
Let’s go back to Mary Poppins for a moment.
She may have been practically perfect in every way, and she may have always been in control and on top of things all the time. Yet remember that Mary Poppins had one thing going for her that the rest of us don’t. She could do magic!
How different would her life have been without it?
Losing our heads and ourselves
Without some kind of magical intervention, the constant strive for perfection is always going to be a fruitless one.
It’s not just about the futility though.
It’s about the impact on our mental and physical health.
We wear ourselves out by constantly striving for impossibly high standards.
We lose our heads over the smallest of mistakes.
We overthink everything and become stuck.
We seek to control everything around us, yet we can’t do it all.
We worry about things going wrong and letting ourselves and others down.
We stress about people seeing behind the carefully constructed image to the real us.
We lose sight of who we are.
This quote from Anne Wilson Schaef is pretty telling: ‘Perfectionism is self-abuse of the highest order.’
The pressure cooker of life
We wonder why other people look to have such perfect lives, yet we seem to always fall short.
The truth is, no one has a perfect life.
Alongside all the images in the media of celebrities seeming to have it all, are stories of celebrities losing their way. The image cracks and all the pieces of their lives come tumbling down.
We can name lots of celebrities who have struggled with the constant pressure. Justin Bieber ‘went off the rails’. Katie Price has checked into rehab after a car crash while driving over the limit.
And then there has been a whole campaign to ‘free Britney’ from a conservatorship that controlled her every movement and decision. In her court statement Britney spoke of wanting to be able to live her own life.
These celebrities aren’t spoilt or out of control. They’re weighed down by pressure, by the demand to do more and be more, and they’re burning out.
It’s the same for any of us. Too much pressure applied constantly only leads us in one direction – to the path of overwhelm and eventual burnout.
The demands we place on our ourselves and those of others mount up and up until the load becomes too much for us.
It doesn’t have to be like that.
Breaking free from perfectionism and burnout
There’s a key to avoiding perfectionism and burnout – one which NLP holds.
Firstly NLP helps us to understand that perfectionism is a form of self-sabotage. You might think that sounds a little odd, however it’s actually the case!
Michael Hyatt said ‘Perfectionism is the mother of procrastination’.
Perfectionism comes from a place of not feeling good enough deep down and so, to overcome this we try to prove our worth by creating perfect work. What’s really going on though is this – we believe we’re not good enough and that the only way we can prove our worth is to be perfect; however, as perfection is unattainable, we never put anything ‘out there’ and so protect ourselves from the judgement and ridicule we imagine is coming our way. We excel at procrastination and become stuck or paralysed.
This is all going on in our heads. We have programmed ourselves to behave and respond in this way to stay safe and protected. We run unconscious scripts in our heads that keep us locked in a loop of striving for perfection, while also self-sabotaging and placing more demands on ourselves. Eventually something has to give!
NLP teaches us how to become more consciously aware of what we’re doing and the impact it’s having on us. It teaches us how to change our thinking, to reprogramme our mind and change our script.
NLP reveals our limiting beliefs and shows us how to reframe them into more positive and constructive thoughts to move us forward. NLP teaches us how to become more conscious of our limiting behaviour patterns and how to remove them. NLP teaches us how to get unstuck and propels us into action.
NLP teaches us to be free. Imagine what possibilities become available to us then!
If you’d love to find out more about the wonderful powers of NLP and how you can ditch perfectionism for good then get in touch today. Or come and join my free facebook group Magnificient Minds for inspiration and motivation with mindset tips and tools.