When I was growing up we lived in an apartment. I recall many happy holiday meals there. We would open a folding table in the living room and pull up any available chairs, even the piano bench. Nobody minded. They remembered the happy times and my mother’s wonderful cooking. My husband was influenced by his mother’s disapproval. I was influenced by my mother’s lack of worry about what people might think.
Who are the people who will think you deserve to be drummed out of the human race if you aren’t good enough? Are they perfect? Did God appoint certain people to be His representatives on earth to point and jeer or punish? What are the qualifications that make those people worthy of judging you?
Perfectionistic thinking is irrational. Break the chains of “or else…” thinking by asking yourself what you are afraid will happen if you aren’t perfect. Some of the negative decisions that plague perfectionists are: I am not good enough; I am unlovable; I am unacceptable; I am incompetent; I am wrong; I am stupid; It’s all my fault; There is something wrong with me; I’ll never do it right.
Choose the one that makes you feel the most upset. Next, take a deep breath and let it out. Ask yourself this question, saying it out loud: How young was I when I made the decision that I am _________ (say the negative belief)? Count to 5 and clap your hands. What number pops into your mind?
Accept the first answer you get. Most likely you were quite young when you made up your mind that you were bad or inferior in some way. What memory comes to mind? Whose voice do you hear?
Put your hands over your heart and say: Even though I decided that I was ______(unlovable/stupid/clumsy/etc when I was ____years old and _____happened, and that led me to become a perfectionist, the truth is: Although it did happen, it is over now. I survived that awful experience. I am now a grownup in charge of my own life.
Therefore, I am now letting go of that memory along with my belief that I am ________! It is not the truth about me. The truth about me today is that I am _________ and it is OK to stop stressing myself to gain approval from others at the cost of my mental wellbeing.
Congratulations! You are now taking the first steps to leave your perfectionism behind you! Whenever you find yourself falling back into your self-defeating habits, you may want to call this wise advice to mind:
“What other people think about me is none of my business! It is only their opinion. It is not the Truth about me.”
Take advantage of a free phone consult with Gloria to discuss your problems with perfectionism.