ACTION OVER PERFECTION #1 – My Story

Hey friends, this is going to be a long one, so grab a cuppa and set 10 aside to really get stuck in to taking action over perfection.


mum tea final

I’m going to tell you my story of living with the perfectionism personality trait and then I’m going to kick off with an actionable and simple way to start combating the effect of perfectionism in our lives.

 

My Perfection Story

 

I’m an expert in perfectionism.  I’ve let perfectionism hold me back my entire life and when I look back to my childhood I can see when perfectionism really came into its own.

When I was 8 we moved from a small pretty town, to a not so pretty much bigger town with a bad rep.  They could not have been more different.

Our lives changed literally overnight and I was devastated to be wrenched from a lovely school and friends who I loved.  I realise now that I entered into the stages of grief, I felt lost and didn’t know who I was in this new place.

I made friends with everyone I could at my new school, tried to impress my new teachers and made friends with some who did not deserve my unreserved friendship.  I made friends with the school bully, the girl who ran out every lunch break and some pretty lovely people too.  I changed who I was depending on who I was with.  I spread myself too thin and became a people pleaser to try and make these new kids like me. It was exhausting and I started having anxiety attacks, although I didn’t know that at the time.

As an 8 year old thrust into the unknown I did all I knew how to, control everything I could and give up on everything I couldn’t.

I would start new hobbies, realise they were too hard or weren’t what I thought they were and gave up on them one after one.  I tried singing, tap, ballet, lace making, quilling, watercolour, trumpet, clarinet, skate boarding, ice skating, my parents were very patient people! (Still are.)

I would pretend that I understood all of my school work, because to get a bad mark or disappointed look from a teacher or my parents would destroy me.  I would learn what I needed to know for that test or that season and then my mind would dump it when I’d had the affirmation I needed and craved.

I started playing games like ‘mind the cracks in the pavement’, suffered with unexplained bouts of muteness and I shut myself down.  I hid my light away for a long, long time.

Periods of trying so hard and periods of giving up left me feeling useless.

There have been happy times of course, I come from a beautiful family.  It’s just that perfectionism shuns gratitude and can’t deal with any negative emotions. At all.

 

So, what changed?

 

Two years ago I found out I have perfectionism as a personality trait during a CBT session and it was like a lightbulb moment.   For two years I’ve been working hard on the inside to work out what I am good at, being ok with my flaws, sitting with negative emotions for awhile, getting curious about why I feel the way I felt about things, practicing gratitude and it’s changed my outlook, my attitude and my life.

My aim is to share what I’ve learnt through my own tears, frustration and journey to joy.  I want to share the strategies I’ve put in place in the hope that they may help you too.

 

What actually is ‘perfectionism’?

 

action over perfection - pink rose surrounded by leaves

 

Never heard of perfectionism? It’s defined as ‘refusal to accept any standard short of perfection’. In my opinion it’s so much more complex than that.  It’s setting your own picture of what is perfect and trying to manipulate everyone and everything to fit that mould.  It and they have to be perfect too.

Anything short of that brings about disappointment, a feeling of being unloved and unworthy, a blame culture, anger and good old self-doubt and self loathing.

As you probably know, this world is not perfect and funnily enough people don’t really respond that well to being manipulated and so we have a little problem.  Perfectionism simply doesn’t work in a wholehearted life.

It robs us of the beauty of ‘real life’, we’re sold a lie that everything has to look like this or that and we place people, situations, and events into boxes and place unrealistic expectations on them until the very life in them is suffocated.  They have no chance to show us their love in their own way.

The beauty of life is that we’re all unique!

How can perfectionism harm us?

 

A wholehearted life takes us with it’s peaks and flows like a waterfall.  Perfectionism suffocates the natural rhythm, builds a damn and stops the water getting through.  It stops us from being the person we were born to be.

 

waterfall

 

Severe perfectionism can leave us feeling a failure, prone to procrastination and self loathing.  It can affect our self confidence, self worth, relationships, work and mind.  At worst it can have devastating effects from depression, anxiety and even suicide.

The outcome is we’re not living the life we love, not by a long shot.

 

What can you do to take action over perfection?

 

So now you know that perfectionism is not just a trend word I’m jumping on the bandwagon with, this is something I’ve had to live with every day of my life for as long as I can remember.

There is good news!  Things can change.  I want you to know that you CAN and will live a wholehearted life.

There are strategies and tips we can put in place to set us free from perfectionism RIGHT NOW.

I’m going to kick this off with an actionable tip you can implement easily straight away to start saying NO TO PERFECTIONISM and saying YES TO A JOY FILLED AND SUCCESSFUL LIFE.

 

Action over perfection Tip #1

 

TIP #1: NO GUILT

FRIEND, if you take nothing else away from this article take this one tip and hold onto it.  Put it in your pocket, pop it in your tool belt.  It’s my number one golden rule.

I’m talking about GRACE.

Giving ourselves a break when something doesn’t turn out quite right (or no-where near!) know that this will happen.  No-one gets to get it 100% right every time.

No doubt when this post goes out there will be spelling mistakes, grammatical mistakes, too many paragraphs, it’s probably far too long.  If I waited for a post to be perfect I would never post anything!

Saying ‘no guilt’ is not saying you couldn’t have done better, the old adage ‘practice makes perfect’ comes into play, or in this case ACTION OVER PERFECTION we need to LEARN from our mistakes rather than hold on to them.  If you need to say sorry because you messed up then say sorry!

‘No guilt’ lets us move on.

When someone else does something to disappoint you, it’s ok to feel disappointed!

Personally I think disappointment is at the root of most perfectionism guilt, disappointment in ourselves and others.  Are you going to hold on to it? ‘No guilt’ for feeling the way you do, and LET IT GO.

Breathe in – feel the feels, breath out – name it ‘I’m disappointed because….’ breathe in – ‘NO GUILT’ breathe out – blow it away.

And then leave it there, do not revisit it.  Move on.  I promise that practising this gets easier over time.

MY #1 ACTION OVER PERFECTION TIP ARE THE WORDS ‘NO GUILT’

Look at the most successful people in the world and in your own lives.  Chances are they mess up all the time (we’re all human after all) the difference being they don’t let GUILT hold them back, they LEARN from their mistakes and they MOVE ON.

This is absolutely key to success in your personal and working life.

Giving yourself the GRACE to make a mistake, or be late or forget someone’s birthday card on time without it paralysing you from TRYING again.  Saying the words ‘no guilt’ gives you the freedom to learn from your mistakes and move forwards towards your goals and most importantly to try again next time.

No-one is perfect, and that’s the truth.  Not even you.

Over the coming weeks I’ll be covering more facets of perfectionism:

  • IT HAS TO (LOOK LIKE THIS)
  • PROCRASTINATION
  • WHEN OTHERS TRY TO MAKE YOU FEEL ‘LESS THAN’
  • FAILURE
  • COMPARISON
  • MANIPULATION
  • CONTROL
  • WHAT OTHER PEOPLE THINK
  • SELF CARE
  • SUCCESS
  • LOVE
  • BALANCE
  • GIVING BACK
  • ATTITUDE
  • GRATITUDE
  • ACTION

I hope you’ll join me in positive change towards living a wholehearted life.

Do you have perfectionism as a personality trait? What do you do to make positive change, to take action over perfection?

Tell me your story in the comments below.

 

Lizzie xo

 

P.S. Read Part 2 in the series here!

 

 

 

12 Comments on ACTION OVER PERFECTION #1 – My Story

  1. mike
    September 26, 2016 at 10:43 (2 years ago)

    great read, some awesome worrds!!!!!

  2. Alice @ The Filling Glass
    September 26, 2016 at 12:31 (2 years ago)

    Oh my! I recognise all this. I completely agree that taking action is the key to winning against perfectionism. Mine definitely started in childhood too and it has taken time to be able to live with it rather than let it dominate my life. It still challenges me, though. My blog suffers from my inaction as well as other things. I love affirmations so I will be definitely giving your ‘no guilt’ a go. Thank you.

  3. Kate / Pouting In Heels
    September 27, 2016 at 09:06 (2 years ago)

    Good for you Lizzie! Well done on seeing the light and making the positive changes. Some great advice here too. I’m absolutely with you on the guilt thing also. Women are FAR too good at feeling guilty about one thing and another. It has to stop. X

  4. Rebecca Beesley
    September 27, 2016 at 10:07 (2 years ago)

    Such a brilliant post Lizzie – Perfectionism and a massive fear of failure and rejection has held me back most my life. I’m glad things are changing now and sometimes ‘that will do’ has to do in the busy-ness of life.

  5. Lizzie Somerset
    September 27, 2016 at 19:45 (2 years ago)

    So glad it resonated Mike

  6. Lizzie Somerset
    September 27, 2016 at 19:47 (2 years ago)

    I hear you, my main love language is words of affirmation, so when that’s tied in with perfectionism it’s hard to beat it off, not impossible though! My blog too suffers when I think too much instead of ‘just do it’. I watch a great video by Marie Forleo the other day about action over outcome, look it up if you get a chance! In fact I think you would like all of Marie’s advice, she’s amazing xo

  7. Lizzie Somerset
    September 27, 2016 at 19:49 (2 years ago)

    I think you’re right, guilt is felt by far too many women and girls and for no good reason apart from what the world heaps on them and us. Making a stand not just for me but for my daughter and women and girls everywhere. Thank you Katie xo

  8. Lizzie Somerset
    September 27, 2016 at 19:56 (2 years ago)

    This is such a great point, perfectionism does not stand alone, it has good friends; fear of failure, disappointment, and fear of missing out. It probably has other friends too! I think saying yes to ‘that will do’ or ‘good enough’ is actually when the real perfect shows up, for example me and my husband went to New York and I had a long list of places I wanted to go, all of the big hitters, I dragged hubs to so many places and wore us both out. I realised when I got back that we spent the whole time ticking things off our list that we actually didn’t spend any time just watching the world go by in New York! My to do lists these days are much less structured and confined, and the things that need doing like housework are just down to planning. I find letting go of what I think a scenario ‘should’ look like allows the beauty of life to show up and show off. I’ve also banned the world ‘should’. Thank you for reading Rebecca I hope the posts help you too xo

  9. You Baby Me Mummy
    September 29, 2016 at 18:12 (2 years ago)

    Taking imperfect action is they key. Guilt is so hard to get rid of isn’t it. Thanks for linking up to #TheList xx

  10. Lizzie Somerset
    October 2, 2016 at 19:59 (2 years ago)

    Imperfect action is it exactly Aby, thank you xo

  11. Helena
    January 18, 2017 at 21:39 (2 years ago)

    What a wonderful series. I’m please to re-discover the linky and learn about you. #sharethejoylinky

  12. Lizzie Somerset
    January 19, 2017 at 09:30 (2 years ago)

    Thank you and welcome to Share the Joy Helena! xoxo

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