As a coach, one of the biggest things I help my clients with is the mindset for developing a healthy relationship with food and themselves. In our information-overloaded world, it’s not the lack of information that often keeps people stuck but their beliefs and perceptions. One of the biggest mindset blocks I see and had to overcome myself is the belief that you have to get things perfectly in order to be successful. Have you ever heard someone say something like : “I did so well with my eating.. Then I totally blew it… and then I kept on blowing it for the next 2 weeks…” ? Or perhaps perfectionism can show up as someone using food or another numbing agent to handle the pressure of not measuring up in a job or in school. Somewhere in becoming adults many of us learned to equate our achievements and external results with our self-worth. Perfectionism is therefore dangerous and addictive. It’s built on shame and fear that if we don’t measure up, we’re not worthy of love… and so often if we “fail” on something, we attribute it to WHO we are and blame ourselves. Perfectionism can also stop us from even trying or starting something because we prefer to avoid the pain of the “imminent failure".”
I remember being in a job interview when the interviewer asked me:
“What is your greatest weakness?”
I’d smile back, so pleased to answer the question I know how to answer so well:
“I’m a perfectionist….I set high standards for myself and others. I achieve a lot but then can often get frustrated if things aren’t going as planned.”
Well, the part I’d withhold is the depth of the frustration - how this inner perfectionist never ever is truly satisfied. How even if I achieve one thing, the goal line keeps moving further and further. How sometimes this inner perfectionist makes me take on more than I can chew or say that I don’t want to complete something or deliver because I’m/it’s “not ready yet.”
While perfectionism can be great to help us to strive and achieve more, on the shadow side, perfectionism can be maddening. It can cause us to hold impossible expectations for ourselves that are more about keeping us safe and protected vs. driving us to grow. In this way, perfectionism in fact is an insidious coping mechanism that can stop us from realizing our goals and full potential.
If you relate to this at all, make this your new mantra: