It was a wake-up call for me to reassess my need to be perfect…
I grew up in a conventional Asian environment where my family have put in really high hopes in me. From young, it had been drummed into me that winning is everything in life. As a result, I became very focused on achieving success – in school or at work.
I did not think that striving for perfectionism was necessarily a bad thing but it became too much when I started to see everyone and everything as a competition. I had to be the best one in the team, I had to be the one that receive praises, I had to be the one that outshine everyone else, I had to be the top in everything… I was constantly needing to be perfect because by then my view on achievements and success had become pretty skewed and warped.
I don’t know why but one day when doing a self-reflection, I suddenly realised what a mean person I had become. Something just clicked… At the same time, I also noticed how nothing satisfied me anymore, and how difficult it was for me to feel truly happy. I found myself no longer enjoying my friends for who they were, as I was always too busy secretly judging and comparing them against my expectation of perfection.
It was a wake-up call for me to reassess my need to be perfect and learn to manage it before it ruined my life. It had taken me a few years and although there were times when I still aimed for perfectionism, I am on the whole a more balanced and much happier person than I was a few years back.
So, what can be done to manage and control perfectionism?
No one is perfect. It is not enough to just know that because the truth is you have always known that anyway. You have to accept that. Accept that no one, including yourself is perfect and it is fine to be less than perfect. It really is. Another truth is – you do not need to be perfect. You can only be you and the only way to be the real you is when you allow yourself to be free from your own judgmental self that demands perfection all the time. Remember that it is not natural to be perfect 24/7.
Be thankful for who you are and what you already have in life. When you appreciate the present, you are basically letting go of control and negative vibes. It makes you recognize that you can be happy right here and right now. You don’t have to wait until everything is perfect before you can be happy and have a peaceful life. The truth is when you feel gratitude, you are making the conscious choice to be happy in life.
When things do not go your way, try to catch yourself before you launch into a self-attack mode. Use that as an opportunity to change. Take a deep breath so you have time to re-program your brain (thus that inner voice). Instead of using that authoritative tone you normally do, use a rational and encouraging tone on yourself. Remind yourself that even the best laid plans can go wrong. It is more productive to channel your thoughts to finding the solutions, not to continually blaming and criticising yourself.
When you love yourself, you will be comfortable in your own skin being who you are. You will see things differently and be free from the need to achieve perfectionism. However, self-love takes time. Thus, it is important to make time to seek understanding of yourself. Spend time to get to know yourself on a deeper level so you can learn to love and value who you are. Also, remember to accept yourself, feel gratitude in life and be willing to change for the better as part of your self-love journey.