A few months ago, one of my friends made a comment to me that I was a perfectionist and in that moment, I disagreed. To me, a perfectionist was someone who has to have everything a specific way and will, and can, obsess over things until they are what they perceive to be absolutely perfect. I felt like I could let things go and not need everything to be an exact way in order for me to be happy, so I did not qualify. However, I was wrong.
This friend gave me some resources on perfectionism and in my reading, I discovered that she may be right. In some aspects, and in all fairness the areas where I struggle sometimes, I would describe myself as a perfectionist. And I learned that my assumptions, and really negative attitudes, about that label or description were not fair. Being a perfectionist is multi-faceted, complex and unless it is impacting your life negatively, not a bad thing. So, in my life, was it?
Well, one element of perfectionism that stood out to me is the inability to delegate or let others help you with specific tasks. I will fully admit that I am a control freak, but it was not until I followed up on my research that I discovered that this can sometimes be a component of perfectionism. I have a hard time delegating tasks to people and would rather just do it myself. For a long time, and still sometimes, I would not trust people to handle things or expect them to not do “as good” of a job as me. That is crap.
There are people who are just as, or even more so, capable of handling things than I am. And that is the point. I work in an environment where team work is important and as I move into different roles and different responsibilities, I need to remember that my staff and my colleagues are able to handle things in just as effectively as I can. Sometimes better. I have been working on letting go of my need for control and as I consider the ways in which it can impact me, and my colleagues, negatively, it is important to consider that. No one wants to work with someone who tries and handles everything on their own. It is not fun.
Secondly, another point in my research that stood out to me was being hyper critical of the people around you, specifically the ones you are closest to. I do that. All the time. I am so unfairly critical of Hubby in a way that is not healthy for him or our relationship. I place unrealistic expectations on him and then get frustrated when he doesn’t meet them. This component is the most problematic and although I have been called out on this behaviour before, I never considered where it might be coming from. Well, awareness is key. And by building this awareness, I am considering an alternate perception. A perception that is not just mine. It makes it hard for Hubby, or anyone close to me, be honest about how they are feeling, or even what they are doing, when I am so negative and critical in my reactions. I need, and plan, to work on that.
Finally, the other component of perfectionism that stood out to me is being extra critical or playing pressure on myself as well. As I wrote about before, I am too hard on myself in both my expectations of my skills and my physical attributes. However, I never considered the fact that it could be attuned to being a perfectionist. Not only am I too critical of the people close to me, but am too critical of myself as well. Yes, I do not need everything to be a specific way, but I also expect myself to be good, excel, or keep up with expectations that are not achievable. I cannot work twelve hours in a high stress job, drive an hour home, read and/or write for a bit and exercise to lose weight. It is about finding balance, not pressure. And I will continue to focus on that as well. Kindness is a powerful tool, so being kind to me is a huge step in that.
So, as I read, and considered what I was reading, I have discovered that I am a perfectionist. That my understanding of perfectionism was wrong, and unfair. Yet, what does that mean for me?
Well, it means awareness. It is about building an understanding of why I behave or react the way that I do so I can work on changing the behaviours. I have pride in the way I handle things, but I also need to be better at asking for help. I want a healthy and open relationship, but I am also hyper critical. I am a smart, capable woman, but I also have insecurities up the wazoo. The knowledge that I have gained leads me to wanting, and attempting, to try and find more balance. And in all honesty, there is definitely nothing wrong with that!
“I’ve learned that you can’t have everything and do everything at the same time.”– Oprah Winfrey