Do you ever feel stressed due to the in-completion of your daily (mission impossible) task list? Do you persecute yourself for not being a better friend, girlfriend, wife or mother or continually berate yourself for not having achieved X, Y and Z in line with expectations you had when you were probably too naive to even understand what life was really all about ?
If this sounds at all familiar then you’re likely suffering from a bout of the ‘perfect’ bug. Although I haven’t found it to be entirely curable, there are lots of things that can help to ease the symptoms.
I was in my early twenties the first time I can remember being accused of being a perfectionist – no it seems I didn’t always suffer from the ailment!
I was standing in the office of my then CEO in London after the agency’s largest and most influential corporate event, of which I had been responsible for organising. Although the event had ultimately been a roaring success, the numbers had been slightly down on the previous year and I, unable to see the bigger picture, was fully intent on focusing on this finer detail.
My CEO urged me to dwell on the positives of the event – the fact that we had been able to concentrate more on our guests’ needs for one – rather than the negative. He also cited my determination for perfection as the reason for my feelings of despair. At the time, I viewed the term ‘perfectionist’ as a compliment; acknowledgement of my ambition to always strive for excellence, never settling for second best. Consequently, I walked out of that office still feeling as though I had failed in some respects, rather than seeing my original aim to achieve perfection for what it really was; an unobtainable target.
Live in the Moment
Indeed striving for perfection in your career is one thing but when also applied to your everyday life, the effect on your well-being as well as your self-esteem can be even more disastrous. In fact, it’s only until recently through the practice of mindfulness that I’ve even realised just how damaging one’s obsession with perfection can be.
Mindfulness teaches us to live in the present but the act of striving for perfection is just another obstacle distracting us from the present moment which of course is the act of living itself. Now on days when I find my head a whirl, I take myself and my favourite furry companion out for a walk. It’s well documented that the act of walking is a great aid for processing and organising one’s thoughts but I find it also forces you to become more aware of your surroundings. There’s nothing quite like looking down from the dramatic heights of the Killarney Demense, past a herd of majestic deer to drag your mind back to the present and remind you of what’s really important in life.
Be Kind to Yourself
I’ve always been a big believer in the school of instinct, a go with your gut kinda gal, but what I hadn’t realised until recently is the power you have to manipulate your own thinking when it comes to analysing certain situations. This, dangerously enough, has absolutely nothing to do with your razor sharp killer instinct.
So the next time you find yourself doing the ole ‘I should have done this or I should have done that’, stop to make sure you really deserve the next proverbial punch you are about to throw at your self-esteem. Sadly, there will always be plenty of people willing to line up and do the battering, so why should you be one of them? Learn to be kinder to yourself. Of course it’s important to admit your shortcomings but remind yourself that you are human and move on. I sometimes wish I had understood more about what I have just discussed much sooner, but life, as they say, is a journey. I also came across a quote recently that really resonated with me and made me think a little differently on the matter so I will leave you with just that……….
“Life teaches you
how to Live it
if you Live Long Enough”
Have a great week everyone!
Photos by http://www.PawelNowak.ie