Every perfectionist – self-confessed or not – has these two traits:
1) They self-doubt themselves – a lot.
Perfectionists are afraid of not measuring up. Their automatic response is to notice the gap between what they did and what they should have/could have/didn’t do in a way that’s negative. In other words, what’s done is never enough.
The person judging us is ourselves. We’re afraid of getting found out to be less than what we want others to perceive us to be.
By judging ourselves, we create layers around ourselves of who we believe we need to be versus who we really are.
2) They are highly critical of others
Why are women (in particular) so harsh on each other? My view is that we’re harsh on each other because we are so damn harsh on ourselves. We need to stop. We need to learn to be kind to ourselves and accept ourselves as we are – so we can give the same gift to others. We can only give to others, that to which we have given ourselves.
It doesn’t matter who you are, where you came from. The ability to triumph begins with you. Always. – Oprah Winfrey
You can still succeed with low confidence and self-esteem, but it comes at a cost. This cost increases the more senior you become.
Sandra aspired to a general management role. She knew she was capable. She had a great personal brand and her team loved working with her. However, she over-analysed situations and judged herself harshly at every turn. She believed she needed to go above and beyond the expectations of others while never meeting her own expectations. She was always disappointed with herself. It was a vicious cycle of never getting it right.
The starting point for Sandra was for her to believe she was enough. While rationally she knew it, she didn’t believe it – so she connected into this belief emotionally in a way she ‘got it’. Sandra learned how to back herself. In addition, she created new personal standards, letting go of her perfectionism habits. Sandra created a new relationship with herself that finally gave her the freedom to be herself.
Are your standards too high?
The next time you find yourself judging yourself negatively, ask yourself instead:
- Are my thoughts based on facts or my interpretations?
- Am I jumping the gun here with a negative conclusion? Are there other ways to look at this?
- What would I tell someone else in the same boat?
- Have I done my best? (If yes, then, why isn’t this enough?)
- What am I learning from this?
- What can I acknowledge myself for?
Bringing it all together
At the end of the day perfectionism is another habit… and habits can be changed. The secret is to shift your focus on the progress you’re making and what you’re learning versus what is lacking. You are good enough. We ALL have progress to make. Progress is the key to feeling empowered. Focus on that and give yourself a break. You deserve it. You have everything you need to succeed exactly as you are.