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5 Affirmations for the Recovering Perfectionist:
Yep, that’s right – I’m one of those people. The try hards who get A++s, have happy looking family lives, and get promoted easily and effortlessly. The world loves to to razz perfectionists because we seem…well…so perfect. But the truth is life is anything but perfect for us.
Why? Because, we’re secretly the most self critical, unhappy, and insecure people you know. Yep, that’s right – your star coworker might just go home and cry themselves to sleep every night because they *might* have made a mistake at work. That’s how bad it can get for many of us.
The need for perfection can be a nightmare for a lot of people. One that keeps them distanced from family, friends, and a happy life. It can even boil over into mental health disorders like OCD, Depression and Anxiety.
Table of Contents
How Does Someone Become a Perfectionist?
But how do we get like this?
The need for perfection and control is often a childhood response to trauma. It comes from the cognitive distortion that being perfect will keep you safe from further trauma. Perfection (and its counterpart rigidity) is a common symptom of PTSD.
In my experience, I became obsessed with perfection at a young age. After the death of my father and the extremely chaotic childhood that ensued, I dove into academics and sports as a way to distance myself from the ongoing trauma at home.
Instead of seeing this as a trauma response, the adults in my life applauded my work ethic and “maturity.” *Insert eye roll emoji here*
Since a hard working teen is generally seen as a good thing, my perfectionism went completely unchecked. Until, finally, at the ripe old age of 29, I was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
And that’s sadly pretty normal for most perfectionists because our society continuously encourages the behavior.
How to Find Peace and Recovery as a Perfectionist
The answer is yoga of course.
Just kidding! It’s a complicated process that requires lots of therapy, inner work, challenging of core beliefs, and lifestyle changes. (Feel free to pepper in some yoga here and there for good measure though).
What’s worked for me is a combination of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, medication, and some big lifestyle changes. I’ve moved towards a career that makes me happy (being a creative business owner) and allows me to spend time working on my mental health.
But even with all that, some days are just TOUGH. On those days, I need a little reminder that it’s perfectly okay to be imperfect. That’s why I created the 5 Affirmations for the Recovering Perfectionist! I honestly was having a horrible day when creating these but the fun, lighthearted spirit of the project brought me back from the brink.
I hope they can do the same for you <3 So without further ado:
5 Affirmations for The Recovering Perfectionist
Affirmation #1: Perfection Doesn’t Guarantee Love
Trading perfection for love or acceptance is a pretty common dynamic in family units. But that doesn’t mean it’s a healthy one. If you remember anything from this article, it’s this: you don’t have to be perfect to deserve love and anyone who makes you feel that way is exhibiting toxic behavior.
Affirmation #2: Being Better Won’t Make You Feel Better
Ever heard that quote, comparison is the thief of joy? I think it’s one that perfectionists know pretty well. Whether they like to admit it or not.
What do I mean by this? Well, for a long time I felt like I had to be the best employee, the best student, the best wife, and the best daughter. I was constantly in competition to keep the top spot. Anyone who came close to me in skill was immediately a threat.
Of course, all of this wasn’t because I actually thought I was better than others. Quite the opposite. I was actually extremely insecure and truly believed that I had little to no personal value to give. If I worked harder, then I was safe from being fired, divorced, or abandoned.
Great plan right? Wrong. That’s because being in constant competition was unsustainable and exhausting. It also pushed people away, made me paranoid, and led to some very bad self harm behaviors.
Now that I’m a recovering perfectionist, I realize that competition isn’t necessary for me to feel valid. That’s because I can finally see all the good things about myself (that have always been there). I’m working on developing my internal self worth with therapy and CBT exercises. In turn this helps me feel more comfortable with being myself. I’m far from being non-competitive but each day, I get a little bit closer.
Affirmation #3: Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
In case you haven’t noticed a theme so far, let me spell it out for you.
Being a perfectionist is exhausting. On a lot of levels. One of the biggest ways we exhaust ourselves is by giving away our power to things that don’t really matter.
Yup, I said it. From experience, 90% of the work stuff I obsessed over didn’t return anything but frustration. Like, it’s not important to format that document perfectly before I email it so that people can better understand it. I mean that’s good and all but guess what? It’s a lot of extra energy I didn’t need to spend for people not to notice or appreciate in the end.
Learning that good enough is good enough for most things has been a revelation for me. A tough one to wrap my head around, but a revelation all the same. Remembering not to give 110% has freed up so much of my energy. And I’ve been able to put it into a few things I really care about being done right.
Affirmation #4: What Worked Yesterday, Might Not Be Serving You Today
This one is a toughie. Why? Because it gets to the very heart of the perfectionists dilemma. Often, many of us become fixated on perfection because it keeps us safe.
As a child, my world (inside and out) was absolute chaos. Focusing on perfection was probably the one thing that got me through it all. In school, I felt downright unsafe amongst my peer group. Being academically perfect bought me protection from teachers and adults.
Even the sport I played required perfection for safety. In Polo, I was often the youngest, smallest, and only girl against a team of full grown men who didn’t have any qualms about hitting me. I had to be perfect (and tenacious) in order not to get hurt.
Perfection was my shield. And it worked well during my young adulthood. But as I grew and got away from the dangerous aspects of my life, my shield became a sword. One that I would fall on.
You see, because I was more or less safe, I didn’t need perfection anymore in the adult world. At that point it was actively working against me by injecting needless paranoia, overwork, and distrust into my relationships. Ruining them from the inside out.
As I’m recovering, I’m realizing more and more that I am safe. I have the tools and emotional agility to remain strong and vulnerable in adverse situations. I realize that failure isn’t a scary thing and that, no matter what happens, I can handle it.
Affirmation #5: You Are Enough
‘Nuff said 🙂
To wrap up, I’ll leave you with some wisdom from the Japanese ideal of Wabi-Sabi or beauty in impermanence and imperfection.
Whether you know it or not, you’ve probably heard of Wabi-Sabi in the form of Kintsugi (Golden Repair). This is a practice where pottery is fixed with gold in order to show off the imperfections instead of hide them. The effect is often stunningly beautiful, even more so than the original creation itself.
Wabi Sabi and Kintsugi offer something critical to perfectionists who have been created out of trauma. You were perfect before being broken. You were perfect while you were shattered. And you will be more than perfect as you heal your wounds with the golden light of love.
But you can only get to that point if you drop your shield of perfection. It’s not easy, I know. But it is worth it.
You’re worth it.
MSB’s Shopping List
While things can’t buy you happiness, there are many items out there that can help you heal and find happiness on our own. That’s why MSB has put together some of our favorite Wabi-Sabi items from Amazon. We hope you enjoy and learn from them as much as we have <3
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