When you say the word perfection to people it conjures up different things. For some the connotations are positive – it can mean attention to detail, getting things right, exemplary customer service and luxury products.
For others however, it casts a darker shadow. The constant strive to be perfect or to create perfection can be a source of personal and work-related stress, overwhelm and even depression.
If you think about it, the concept of perfection crops up everywhere.
We talk about the perfect storm, being pitch perfect and scoring a perfect 10. We’re assailed by the media with images and stories of perfection. Glossy magazines continue to show us models with airbrushed ‘perfect’ skin and bodies and celebrities with perfect relationships and homes. Lines and bumps are removed as are the cracks and bumps that can exist in celebrities’ relationships too.
Social media too provides us with windows onto people’s lives. Perfect moments are captured and shared, ‘selfies’ are photoshopped, young girls adopt the stance of models and new mums show photographs of their post-baby ‘perfect’ bodies. So it goes on.
Why are we so obsessed with perfection?
This brings me to another question. When does professionalism, a healthy attention to detail and wanting to look your best tip over into unhealthy, unrealistic perfectionism?
A perfect world
The world is full of people who want to have perfection in every aspect of their life – a perfect body, look and hair. A perfect job, house and car. A perfect partner and children. A perfect lifestyle full of healthy eating, meditation, holidays and exercise. This list could go on and on!
Now, there’s nothing wrong with wanting all these things to be great for ourselves, however, constantly expecting perfection is a sure path to damaging both ourselves and others too. Plus, it begs another question, is the perfection we’re striving for based on your own or someone else’s view of what your life should be like?
The truth is none of us is perfect.
Another truth is, that constantly aiming for perfection is like running on a treadmill with no off switch.
If you’ve ever listened to the song ‘Who You Are’ by Jessie J, you’ll know how pertinent the lyrics are to the concept of perfectionism. She wrote the song during a 3-month tour of the States. It illustrates how Jessie realised she was losing sight of who she really was while in the bubble of Los Angeles. She was in danger of losing her head over small errors. Plus she was also trying to fit into someone else’s mould. Jessie realised the impact this was having on her mental wellbeing.
That’s the crux of the issue. When the striving for perfection starts to change who you are or you end up feeling less than the people standing next to you, it’s become unhealthy.
A perfect fraud
Deep down, many people who try hard to be seen as perfect, hide an underlying and persistently negative view of themselves. They try to erase it through wishing to appear better than they believe they are.
This gives rise to what’s called imposter syndrome. In effect these people expect to be found out as the fraud they believe they are, at any moment. Paradoxically, this desire to appear perfect, while battling feelings of unworthiness, is often what leads to self-sabotage, so that perfection can never be attained. Worse, it can also lead to self-loathing because these people know deep down, that the perfection they portray on social media is not matched by reality.
This pressure to be perfect in every way, fuelled by the belief that everyone’s life being much better than theirs, can be at the root of eating disorders, addictions, depression, anxiety, debt and various other issues too.
A perfect time to change
The key to changing perfectionism is to stop judging ourselves in harsh, negative ways. If we don’t suspend judgement, we stay stuck in feeling bad and paralysed into inaction. Or worse, we go on with continued negative thoughts and behaviours that keep holding us back from being who we really are.
Each day we don’t take action on the detrimental habit that is perfectionism, turns into a week, a month and a year and we still haven’t moved forward.
What if we all decided to be ourselves, starting from today? What if we said no to unhealthy perfectionism and airbrushing our lives? What if we decided to keep it real every single day?
And then what if we took things a step further?
What if we decided that along with being unapologetically ourselves, we decided at the same time to expand our comfort zone and become bold and fearless in pursuit of our goals. To be bold live the kind of life we truly want?
Yes, we might make mistakes along the way and that’s good! It’s in those mistakes that the biggest learning arises. If we don’t make mistake we don’t learn. Through this learning we develop a solid core belief about our own capabilities. Pluse we learn to accept and appreciate ourselves for who we really are.
A perfect imitation
The great thing is that as we develop that solid core belief, so it creates certainty about us in others. How? Well in our brain we have what’s known as mirror neurons and these allow us to learn through imitation. So we’re able to pick up on and reflect the body language, facial expressions and emotions of others, just as they are able to pick up on ours. If we’re emitting signals of self-belief and confidence they’ll be picked up by other people’s mirror neurons.
If or when we then make mistakes, they won’t be noticed because we’re certain of our value, capabilities and worth at our core.
Well NLP is a great tool for developing a really solid core belief in ourselves. It can be used to:
- Banish negative thought patterns and emotions. That includes so called imposter syndrome and self-sabotage
- Identify what’s important to us in life so we can live in a way that’s aligned with our values
- Change our world view and our view of ourselves
- Release anxiety and depression
- Hugely increase confidence and self-belief
- Inspire us to take action to achieve our goals
- Plus increase our influence around others, which is a total bonus in relationships and business too.
There’s nothing wrong – in fact there’s everything right – about wanting good things for ourselves. It’s brilliant that we aim for great relationships; a comfortable welcoming home that’s a haven and a great lifestyle. Let’s just keep it real and celebrate US in all our true and real glory.
If you’d like to know more about how NLP or coaching can help you step off the perpetually revolving hamster wheel of perfectionism to start living the life you truly want, please get in touch.