Perfectionism is the tendency and desire to be flawless. But is there such thing as a healthy perfectionism? What kind of people get into perfectionism and why?
Listen to this episode to find out why people use perfectionism and what are the psychological causes behind it.
Listen to the show
You will learn
- What is perfectionism
- What drives us to be perfectionists
- Practical suggestions of how to overcome it
Hello, dear friend. In this episode, we'll talk about perfectionism, and how to overcome it. This episode is a little bit less related to the previous one, in which we talked about fear of criticism and judgment. I think that those are in a way related. So if you haven't listened to the previous episode, you might want to do it after this one. And in this episode, I really want to look at this from a practical perspective. Of course, we'll talk about what is perfectionism, why we have it. But more importantly, I want to talk about what we should do to overcome it. And I will give you a very concrete and practical suggestion of how to overcome it. So let's start, first of all, with a little definition, what we call perfectionism. This is the tendency and the desire to be flawless. It could be about yourself, it could be about the things that you do. And usually it's both. And, actually, is there a such thing as healthy perfectionism? Because the truth is that many people are kind of proud with it. When they are too demanding, for example, or when they are too judgmental, their justification very often might be you know what, I'm just a perfectionist. That's the way I am. And that's what I need. Why is this a problem? This is a problem because this is completely impossible. in astrology, we see that very well. When you have an idea, when there is something, you know, like bigger than yourself, whether this is about art, or science or something else, which is significant as a project. It can be perfect only as an idea. And when it comes from the outer planets, Pluto, Neptune, Uranus, those are the planets, which are invisible for us here from the earth. And the energy, the ideas that come from them, they might be perfect in our mind. So the version of something is usually perfect. It could be the idea about love and relationships. It could be anything related to your work. It could be about the vision you have about the person you want to be. So in our minds, thing can be perfect things can be perfect. But after that when you start working on the idea and kind of like implementing it in the visible world, which in astrology language means you have to get through Saturn. Saturn is kind of like the boundary of the visible world. And Saturn rules, the tangible visible material forms. And when the idea goes through this filter, and is being materialized in the outer world, it can never ever be flawless. Because it's always different from what you have. So in your mind. And this is something that can be very painful. If you are expecting that things should work in the outer world exactly the same way as they look in your mind. This is like a recipe for constant frustration and disappointment.
So I guess that this is the first step to realize that things will always be different from what you kind of symbolically see in your mind, from what you have as a vision. And then the way it will look, when it's already materialized, there will always be a difference. And that's okay. That's totally fine. If we get this, it will be so much easier for us. So one of the biggest frustrations and pains come from this expectation that things in the outer world or the material form should look exactly the way we have imagined it. Now, next, let's explore Who are the people who are perfectionists? Well, usually, those are people who have been criticized a lot in their childhood, whether it's the family environment, or the culture, or the school or the whole society. And if the child or the young person gets the idea that it's never enough, they may pursue this idea of perfectionism. Because this is something that you can never get. Another thing that we do is that kind of subconsciously, we are doing this as a mechanism to improve ourselves. So the truth is that there may also be some kind of benefits. Because we are trying harder when we want to do better and better. So what should we do about this? The first thing is reframing instead of pursuing perfectionism, and flawless results and outcomes, what I want to suggest is pursuing constant improvement. But here is the biggest difference. At the same time, we should also appreciate where we are, and who we are, and the way things are. So giving yourself credit for every improvement, even if you're not at the final destination yet. Because the truth is that this final destination may or may not be possible. But if you keep going, if you keep improving. That's something that deserves appreciation, recognition. And you need to praise yourself for this. So I'm not saying that we should get to the opposite polarity of perfectionism, which may look like, Don't try to be better. Just let it be. I'm not saying this. I'm saying accept the way things are. Have the courage to evaluate them properly. Admit if something is totally not fine, or if you are really not great in it. And then see how you can improve. And the most important piece, give yourself enough credit for every improvement, because that's what matters. The truth is that we use perfectionism also, as a way to avoid things and even worse, to procrastinate. So we want to do something. Let's say that we are working on a project. I don't know why I constantly get the example of writing a book, perhaps I should do that. But seriously, yeah, let's say that you have a message that you want to share with the world.
It could be writing a book it Could be having a website or something else. And you want to make it perfect. And what happens is that time goes by, and you keep working on it or maybe not.
But you justify it with the explanation that you want it to be perfect. And the truth is that other people very often respond well to this justification, or I would also call it excuse. Oh, okay, this person really tries to do the best, they are putting a lot of effort, they want to make it perfect, okay. But the harsh reality is that very often, this is just an escape, we keep procrastinating and we keep procrastinating. And we can keep doing it, because it's not perfect yet. And the truth is that it never will. So, I'm not saying do like crappy things. And you know, just be okay with it. Of course, you should always keep your integrity, you should kind of like stay behind the things that you are doing. But don't expect from yourself and from the things that you do that they should be completely flawless. There is always room for improvement. That's just the universal truth. So try to do a really good job. But then leave some space for other improvements. Because the truth is that you can never know everything upfront. Whether you are creating a website, publishing a book, a couple of years from now, you may know better, but you wouldn't know better if you are not doing it in the first place. So my point here is get rid of those excuses. And it would be even better if you totally forget about this word, perfect and perfectionism. Because this is also pretty important. The words we use, our language really matters. And we have associations with every word we are using. So if you want to avoid some kind of pattern, or you want to significant change, you also need to change your language and the words you are using. So just forget about this word. And you can find some good substitutes. Like, I want to do a good job, I want to do a great job, I want to do an amazing job. But all of this is very different from trying to be perfect. And now I want to give you some totally practical advice and suggestion of how to actually overcome it. If this is really a personal pattern of yours, what you should do about it. And what I want to suggest is do something you're not perfect at. But here is the important clarification. Don't start with something that is really important for you. For example, if the book or the website is really important for you don't start with this to exercise and practice not being perfect, because that would be too difficult. If something is extremely important, we tend to repeat the same patterns we kind of like respond from a different place. So this is not the best strategy to focus straight on the things that are the most important for you. What I want to suggest is pick something that at the end of the day doesn't really matter. Especially if it's some kind of hobby, that would be great. And I will give you example From my personal life in the last two, one year, I started doing two things. One is singing, and music. The other, the more recent one is horseback riding.
And I'm not great at those things, I'm really not great. But the truth is that those are things that won't affect negatively my life. Well, I hope I don't get a trauma from the horse riding. But yeah, it won't affect my life. Even, you know, I, if I'm, if I'm not that good, even if it takes me a long time, that's totally fine. At the same time, I feel like I'm stretching myself a little bit, sometimes even more, because it is uncomfortable, if you want to be perfect, or if you expect that you should be totally amazing, the very first time you do something, then it's uncomfortable when your expectations don't match the reality. And this is how you learn to be more flexible. But again, the important thing here is to choose something that is not so important. It could be some kind of hobby, it could be drawing, music is just wonderful. Be relax, it's nurturing for your soul. And at the end of the day, it's okay, if you cannot really sync perfectly, or if you're generally not a good singer, that's totally fine. But what's happening is that you're accepting yourself, you keep taking those lessons, or you keep practicing. It could be with sports, it could be with yoga, it can be literally with anything. But again, start with the things that don't really matter. And the more you practice them, the more you will accept the idea that it's totally fine, that you're not perfect, and you may still enjoy it. And it still matters. And you can keep doing it. And with time, you're actually becoming better, you will never be perfect, because no one can ever be perfect. But you will get better. And this is giving you the courage, it's almost like you are kind of like flexing those muscles, and nurturing this flexibility. It's about self acceptance. And, honestly, it's just so simple. And yet, it may have such a positive long term impact on the way you see yourself the way you treat yourself, and the way you do other things. And what also happens is that you see, you observe how you have started with you know, like no knowledge, no skill, you may not even have talent in this, and that's totally fine. But then, when you practice regularly, you'll get better, even if it's just a little bit, you'll get better. So that's very helpful for your mind, to learn. That you also improve with time, even when you're not great at the very first time you're doing something. And with time, the more flexibility you have, the more you may use the same approach towards things that matter a little bit more. And then things that matter even more and then you can get to the really important things and embrace the idea that you're not perfect, and it's totally fine. And your life does not depend on that. And the more you accept this, the easier for you will be to pursue improvement at the same Time, give yourself credit for where you are. And most importantly, not feel frustrated all the time. If you're a perfectionist, you will be frustrated all the time.
If you embrace your human nature, and the fact that it's okay, you are not supposed to be perfect at everything, and you will never be perfect at everything. And again, to accept and love yourself, you can feel okay, you may feel happy, you may feel bees. And that will happen even when you are not so great. But ironically, the better you feel about yourself, the more you can improve. Because imagine, you start doing something, you expect that it should be perfect, of course, it's not, you feel very bad about yourself at from this place of feeling bad and frustrated, then judging yourself and criticizing yourself and all the other awful things that we can do to ourselves, you don't have enough resources to improve. So what you are doing is that you are stopping yourself from doing the thing that you want the most, which is actually improvement. So I'm not saying that you should lie to yourself, if you're not good at something, admitted, it's totally fine. But then, for every effort, and for every small improvement, you should give yourself enough credit. And you should appreciate those small steps. And when you have this acceptance, and this inner peace, the improvement is much easier. And ironically, you get better, much faster. So that's just a very practical way of how we may overcome this state, those expectations. And this way of being hard on ourselves punishing ourselves. So I hope you have found some answers and ideas. And my recommendation is don't postpone things. Choose now, which would be this activity for you that you will practice something you're not particularly good at. But also something that wouldn't matter. And, of course, it would be great if you can actually enjoy it or I enjoy singing and practice it. You will see how with time it can totally reshape the way you approach things the way you think about yourself and all the other stuff. Thank you so much for joining me it was a pleasure for me as always, and I will catch you next week.