Starve Your Anxiety By Ditching Perfectionism

Posted by on Oct 23, 2013 in Anxiety And Depression

If You Need Everything To Be ‘Just So’, Listen Up:

It’s harder to overcome perfectionism than you might think. There’s a seductive pull in our society that has us always leaning into the next thing – that next event, object or situation which will FINALLY make life perfect. This is a recipe for unhappiness.

If you think you’re not attached to outcomes, you may be sorely mistaken. Maybe you like things in their proper place, or you have to eat at 7.00PM (not 7.01 or 6.59), or you have to always have the last say. Whatever your ‘schtick’ is, don’t feel bad. We all have our own little ways of trying to control our environment.

The desire (and expectation) of perfectionism is the hardest one to break. This is because often we are deluded by the thought that perfectionism is actually possible.

But make no mistake: perfectionism causes anxiety and depression.

Never gonna happen.

Let me be perfectly blunt. Perfectionism is a fear based affliction that is disguised as a virtue. You may believe it is a trait worth bragging about…..but I’ve got news for you; it’s not. When I was in my twenties and floundering around with my career, I used to apply for all kinds of jobs. If I was lucky enough to get an interview, I would prepare myself for the two inevitable interview questions:

  1. What are your strengths?
  2. What are your weaknesses?

The first one was easy; I would blow my own horn just enough to come across as the right candidate for the job, but not so much that I might come across as arrogant. Piece of cake. The second question; not so easy. How to appear humble and dazzle the interview panel all at the same time? Well I was hardly going to fess up to my inability to handle constructive criticism, now was I?

Likewise the small matter of my penchant for lengthy stints of internet surfing was best left unshared. After some careful pondering, an earnest confession of a tendency towards perfectionism seemed the obvious choice. So on I would go about my ‘need’ to do everything just right; about my dedication to the task hand, etc….etc…..;I wore my alleged perfectionism like a badge of honour, and I displayed my war wounds with pride.

Not surprisingly, I rarely got the job (Nobody likes a fusspot).

You are never going to do anything perfectly all of the time, and clinging to the notion that you must do so will only set you up for constant failure.

Perfectionism breeds self-hatred. Self-hatred causes anxiety and depression.

If you want to be anxious and frustrated, continue trying to control everything (and let me know how that works out for you). If you want to be happy, I strongly recommend you lose the all or nothing mentality or get the help of a hypnotherapist who knows you to help you overcome perfectionism and become a happier, healthier person.

Perfectionism doesn’t work. It has never worked. Let it go.