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Figuring out Perfectionism

Hey guys, I hope you're having a great week Heart


I was just wondering if any of you have tips on working around perfectionism and feeling like you have to have everything organised all of the time. 

It's not even that I'm anxious about it, but I think since I was younger, I've always been the type to be super organised, have everything planned out etc. Like...yes, this can be a very good thing in terms of having a plan for the future and giving myself the best chance at things, but it can get VERY exhausting. Even in the holidays, I feel like I have to be doing something. 


I have been getting better little by little, day by day. My boyfriend has been helping me a lot to find a better balance. He's a lot more free-spirited than me and we've been helping each other a lot. He's very patient with me and super caring. 


I just wanted to pop on to see if anyone else relates and can help a girl out! Heart

Re: Figuring out Perfectionism

Hello @ayrc_1904, thanks for sharing your story with us. It can be really hard dealing with perfectionism as it is not always easy to get things perfect! You are right as it is good to have a plan for the future, but sometimes our plans/future do not always work out the way that we are wanting. That's when we can get upset and eventually exhausted. I think it is really great that your boyfriend has been supporting you and helping you to find a good balance.


I think if you have a look online you could find a few different strategies to help you out. I have had a look and found a conversation from Headspace that discusses perfectionism in some detail. One strategy that I can think of that you might find helpful would be to try and set smaller goals. It might be too hard to not set any goals/plans, so if you were to change your goals and set smaller, more achieveable ones (such as cleaning the room on a certain day) you might find it easier to change how you are feeling on the holidays. I hope that you find this to be helpful. Please feel free to keep us updated here on the forums Heart

Re: Figuring out Perfectionism

Thanks @Sophia-RO !


I really appreciate it. I'll have a look at the headspace link. I'll update you when I can after trying out some new techniques to help the perfectionism. 


Re: Figuring out Perfectionism

Hi, I just wanted to pop in to show you some love Heart Yes being a perfectionist can get pretty exhausting, and it's great that you're wanting to change it!


I struggle with perfectionism as well, and for a while it stopped me from trying new things that I thought I might not be good at, and made me procrastinate sooo much because I got overwhelmed with my own expectations. And I never felt like I ever achieved anything, because the second I reached my goals, I just assumed it was luck and kept striving for even higher standards.


What really helped me was giving myself permission to not get everything done perfectly, set time aside to rest, and try new things. I started really small and it sure felt very uncomfortable at first. But a lot of good things have come from that, and I have to say I wouldn't be where I am today if I hadn't tried to let go of my perfectionism!


I still struggle with wanting to do a lot and sometimes holding myself to reaaaally high standards, and I'm okay with that. I'm still learning and I don't need to be perfect at getting rid of my perfectionism Smiley LOL


Good luck with your journey, and I would love to hear how you go!

Re: Figuring out Perfectionism

Hi @ayrc_1904,


So much of your post really resonates with me! I am 24 and right from very young I have been a perfectionist. I remember seeing a psychologist when I was younger who reiterated to me that perfectionism could be one of my biggest strengths if I use it in moderation, but when it seeped into other parts of my life, it could also be something that could hinder my recovery.


I really love @November13's post, and I think it spoke to my experience too.

"What really helped me was giving myself permission to not get everything done perfectly, set time aside to rest, and try new things. I started really small and it sure felt very uncomfortable at first. But a lot of good things have come from that, and I have to say I wouldn't be where I am today if I hadn't tried to let go of my perfectionism!"


Last year I had a huge amount of change in my life, and had to really re-evaluate how living in the unknown and not being in control made me feel, and also take calculated little steps over time to give myself room to breathe, room to explore who I am, and room to take some healthy risks- even when that meant not getting it right or failing sometimes. To be honest, failing or not "doing things right" or "not doing enough" were and sometimes still are my biggest fears. While I tried new things I started a journal in March last year, and it's one I still keep today Smiley Happy I recorded all the things I learnt about myself when I stepped outside my comfort zone. For example I learnt I can let go and have fun- I never used to have fun because I was constantly assessing the risk!

I have come a long way and know I still have a way to go- recovery is a journey! I am learning so much about myself. Every person's experience is different and as unique as you are, so my experience won't be the same. But, I hope that by posting here and reading from others that you know you aren't alone Heart and it sounds like you have a supportive partner which is fantastic!


Us perfectionists exploring an imperfect world need to stick together and support each other!

Re: Figuring out Perfectionism

Hey @November13 !

Thank you for sharing your story with me Smiley Very Happy

I'll definitely try your method of starting with baby steps and gradually letting myself let go of the perfectionism more and more. I think it's a battle because technically I guess aiming for high goals is good, but the need for everything to specifically be 'perfect' is the bad part about it. 


I'll update you when I can! Heart

Re: Figuring out Perfectionism

Thank you @Jess1-RO  for your insightful post!! 

I love that I can come here and find people I relate with. It makes me feel less alone in my struggles. Keeping a diary seems like such a good idea! That way, you can keep track of things and remind yourself of the amazing things you've experienced when you let yourself go for something. I'll probably try that! 


I'm so proud of you for being on this recovery journey and really finding things that work for you! Hopefully I get there too Heart

Re: Figuring out Perfectionism

Hey there @ayrc_1904,


 I feel you when it comes to how exhausting being a perfectionist can be! I have a similar experience to you actually in regards to your boyfriend being a lot more free-spirited and helping you to find more balance. What I have found really useful is scheduling a day of doing nothing (usually a Sunday) with him here or there knowing in the back of my mind that I can't/don't have to totally plan the day. I find that this helps because I don't feel like I'm wasting the day because it is time spent catching up with him (even though sometimes I do stress about what I could be doing at home although this probably occurs more when I am particularly busy).


I find that planning my week ahead is also useful but I am working on not planning so extensively and hence, not being so let down if I don't finish something when I expected and allowing myself to be a bit more spontaneous. I think something that helps with this is planning long term goals rather than short term. So for example, making a plan at the start of the week that I want x y and z finished and knowing that my days off are Wednesday and Thursday that week and so I can do those things on those days (as opposed to knowing exactly when and for how long I will do each thing/ how long each thing should take me). On that note, trying to think in terms of what I can do instead of what I should do is a mental shift I am working on making. I wonder if there are any mental shifts you could work on that might benefit you?

Re: Figuring out Perfectionism

Hi everyone, I wanted to add in some more suggestions as a recovering perfectionist Smiley Very Happy


My perfectionism honestly ruined my mental health in high school. I did very well one year and from then on I had this feeling that everyone expected me to be the smartest, best person. It was a blessing and a curse, because it did make me feel very special and important, but I was absolutely terrified of failing! I remember my counsellor having to tell me that in reality, nobody expects me to be perfect. I also remember my ex saying to me that people don't like people who are perfect all the time because they're unrelatable! A bit of a weird comment bit it did help me Smiley LOL


But, the thing that really did help me was actually experiencing failure. In first year uni I failed an assignment spectacularly, one that I think we were genuinely set up to fail. Funnily enough, the world didn't stop turning for me. I actually am very grateful for that failure because I learned a lot about whether the pain of trying so hard is always worth the success. I have also learned a lot about when to ask for help because struggling is normal and okay and, in fact, everyone struggles, even the people who seem to always get it right.


The other way I've learned to fail is by putting myself in situations where failure is inevitable, and is expected, even encouraged! Firstly, I did martial arts for a long time. You certainly don't start out an expert, and a lot of it is about having the discipline to fail again and again until you get it right. And even the masters still fail and they know it Smiley Very Happy The other thing I do is rock climbing and bouldering. It's interesting because in that case, failure LITERALLY means letting go. It is so scary to fall from a height, but once upon a time I literally slipped and fell straight on my butt from up on the wall. Once that happened, I was never so scared of falling again because I knew I would be okay and could get back on the wall. I think it works because it's just little tastes of victory and defeat with every climb and it slowly teaches you to be okay with fear or disappointment. I also have a friend who had even worse issues with failure and facing fear than I did and these two sports have worked wonders for her confidence in herself! Which is why I recommend them Smiley Very Happy

Re: Figuring out Perfectionism

Hey @JullyBean 

Thanks for your reply! I completely get it!! 

The thigns you do to help yourself sound really useful though. I'll give it a shot! I do a similar thing planning out a week ahead but these days I purposely schedule in break time as being a part of my schedule so I feel less guilty about it.