OVERCOMING PERFECTIONISM

It's very common for people to not take action towards what they want in life because of a fear of making mistakes. Or, they do take action but they don't get to enjoy the journey because they are constantly fearing mistakes and inevitably frustrated at themselves for making mistakes.


"I need to be perfect, otherwise people will think I am stupid.."


"I need to be perfect because if I make a mistake I will be rejected.."



Mistakes are not the problem, mistakes are a very normal part of the human experience.

I have personally dealt with this a lot in my life. Especially in my boxing career. I had a need to be perfect which developed into a pattern of punishing myself because I was not perfect. No one is and can ever be!



For example, If I had a bad day in the boxing gym I would punish myself with self directed frustration for the rest of the day. I also would make sure I punished myself with more hard work because that's what I deserved... because I wasn't allowed to have a bad day. Because the best didn't have bad days.. or so I thought.

This type of thinking was the actual mistake for me. It started in my boxing career which bled into my life. And it developed into a pattern of chronic negative thinking and chronic self frustration which led me down a path of depression, anxiety and self sabotage.

I was always worried about making a mistake because of what other people might think, or because I was comparing myself to what I thought the best were..."Perfect".

I truly believed that if I made mistakes, if I was fallible, if I was imperfect I would never amount to anything good. I had a deep insecurity which stemmed from me needing to have, do or be something "special" in order to feel a sense of worth within.


I was valuing myself on my human doing, not my human being.



So, how did I resolve this?



I wish I could say I did it alone but I didn't, I needed support. I found a qualified coach to help me out think my issues.



A good coach can see what you cannot see because you are in the problem. I was in the forrest and could only see trees around me.



This is the power of a coach - they stand outside and they see above the problem, they can navigate you to the root of the problem. They can see the forrest and the trees, so to speak.



They can help bring awareness to what you cannot see, so you can navigate through the issue.


The roots of my problems were mostly in the unresourceful belief system I had build.



Some of the beliefs I held are below..

  1. "The best don't have bad days. If I want to be the best I can't have them either."

  2. "The best don't need to rest. If I want to be the best I need to always push."

  3. "The best never make mistakes."

  4. "My self-worth, my value as a human depends on me being successful in my sport."

  5. Impatience. "I need to hurry up and be the best"

  6. Rejection. "I will be rejected if I make a mistake."


These beliefs are the main issues that kept me under performing. They kept me from being a consistent high performer, they kept me from enjoying the journey and they kept me constantly injured and sick (due to over-training, over-stressing and under-resting).


The fact is that getting angry at myself only ever hurt me in the long run. It never actually helped me. At best it was a bad strategy for motivating myself, but using negative emotions to motivate myself depleted me of the vital energy I needed to perform and sucked the fun out of what I was doing.



It wasn't until I finished my boxing career that I discovered the truth about perfectionism. In the process I discovered much more resourceful ways of thinking.



Here are six much more resourceful ways of thinking that have helped me transform perfectionism:


1. The best do have bad days too.


I never knew this. I kind of knew the best in the world were not perfect but I thought I needed to be. If the best aren't perfect then of course I couldn't be. There is a place between bad and perfect.


If I wanted to be the best I needed to allow myself to have bad days, while I gradually progress.


On the bad days simply getting non-judgementally curious about why I was having a bad day was what I needed to do. Then I might have learned something about why I was having a bad day, I could've taken these lessons and applied then in the future.


No frustration at myself + learning = less stress + more energy to spend on becoming better.



2. The best do need to rest.


If I wanted to be the best I needed to learn to listen to my body. I needed to learn when to push and when to take a rest. And to know how to ask my coach for this.


If I had known to listen to my body, how to tell my coach I needed a rest and allowed myself to rest I would have probably avoided many of my major injuries, many of the sicknesses caused by broke down immune function and many of my mood swings and mental breakdowns.



3. The best always make mistakes.


The best in the world are the best because they have made the most mistakes and kept going. Mistakes are the process of getting better at anything. There is no other way to do it.


Process for progress: Take action > make some mistakes > get non-judgmentally curious > learn lessons from mistakes > apply the lessons > take action again > notice improvement &/or learns new lessons > repeat.


If I wanted to be the best, I needed to enjoy making mistakes. I needed to see mistakes as nothing more than some information, telling me that I have something new to learn.


Making mistakes means you are trying new things, it means you are pushing yourself, it means you are stretching and growing.


If I had approached making mistakes with a non-judgmental, curious attitude I would have learned so much more about myself, I would have learned so much faster and had the energy to apply the lessons.


Getting frustrated at myself for making mistakes is the most unresourceful choice I could have ever made. It's useless! Focusing on allowing myself to be a normal human, one who makes mistakes, would have not only made me more successful in boxing but would have made the journey so much more enjoyable.



4. Self worth for being.


My self-worth, my value as a human depended on my performance. Nothing we do or have should make a difference to our belief about our self-worth. This is conditional self worth. With this we become co-dependant on the external thing that we believe makes us worthy. This is not healthy.


We need to learn to value ourselves and others on for being. On our human being-ness. Not on our human doing. The things we do and have are seperate from who we are.


Accepting myself and appreciating myself regardless of my performance or success in anything I do in life would have been the most resourceful thing for me to do. This is a foundation for unconditional self esteem. This would have freed up so much energy for me to use on improving and becoming all that I was capabler of becoming.



5. Patience.


Getting good at anything takes time. This is why sustainability is so important. I had such a need to "be something special quick" because I wanted to feel better about myself. In hindsight, I now know I needed to take time off my sport to reconnect to myself, work on my mindset, find peace within myself and to what matters to me in my life.


Taking the time to do this would have been an invaluable investment into my career, my relationships and my life as a whole. Eventually I did and life has been truly wonderful ever since. Better late then never!



6. Unconditional acceptance.


The truth is that even the best in the world make mistakes. Everyone on the planet is imperfect and fallible. The human race all have red blood and we all make mistakes.


So, give yourself permission to make mistakes. Give yourself permission to be a beginner when you need to be.


Rejecting yourself for mistakes is never helpful. You can cure this by practicing unconditional self acceptance. If you make a mistake, accept it, find the lesson in it, learn from it and move on.



In summary, let go of the need to be perfect, it doesn't help you. When you give yourself permission to make mistakes as you learn and grow, you can then focus all of your energy on taking the lessons from the mistakes so you can continue to make consistent progress.


Give yourself the time, 10,000 hours is the rough time to mastery. Listen to your body, learn how to communicate well and bring joy to the journey because we want to make it sustainable.

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