Perfectionism. If you struggle with depression it may be at the root of your terrible self talk. One minute you’re berating and belittling yourself for being imperfect. The next you’re imposing standards even a perfect person couldn’t live up to as punishment for your imperfection.
Worst of all, if you ever do live up to a standard you’ve set for yourself, you can’t just be proud of yourself. If you can reach the bar you know it’s time to raise it.
Clearly the bar was set too low.
If you’re a perfectionist, you likely push yourself with no regard for your limitations, sensitivities or weaknesses. You have something to prove. You’re never comfortable with your flaws.
If you’re a sensitive person and a perfectionist you may often push yourself until you’re nursing a cold and a migraine just waiting to lash out at the next person who asks you a simple question.
I went on like this for years.
I rapidly cycled between superhuman overachiever and burnt out slacker — sometimes within a week. It was killing me.
Honey, Perfect Isn’t Real. You’re Imagining It.
If you’re anything like me, your quest for perfect is likely rooted in a deep-seated sense of inadequacy or brokenness. For me, it was a mix of internalized abuse and never feeling accepted for the quirky, introverted, sensitive child that I was.
But things really started to change for me when I first read Quiet. I knew that I was finally onto something. I followed up by researching the highly sensitive person and reading Elaine Aron’s book. I started to feel like maybe I wasn’t weak and maybe I could stop living like I had something to prove.
Sensitivity is Not Weakness. Sensitive Does Not Need Fixing.
It took another few years after that to appreciate it.
Your internal dialogue is critical to your mental, emotional and social wellbeing. Calling yourself weak, lazy, irresponsible, bad, selfish, mean or a host of other negative words — consciously or not — over the years to describe yourself will do nothing but destroy you.
Particularly if you use those words to kick yourself when you’re down.
Verbal self-flagellation should be sought out and uprooted wherever it resides within your heart or mind.
But if you have learned to love and accept yourself, there are advantages to knowing your flaws.
Many Weaknesses Are The Flip Side of Strengths
For instance, I’m a highly sensitive person. That means that florescent lights and perfume make me crazy. It also means that I’m good at seeing what’s coming, I’m able to pick up on subtle changes in the vibe and I notice when someone is being left out. Two sides of the same coin.
Accepting What You’re Not Good At Frees Your Time
I’m terrible at drawing. I couldn’t even draw a straight line with a ruler until I got to college. I am, however, good at writing. So rather than spending one iota of my time on trying to become a comic, I write these posts for you!
I have spent four years working in environments that don’t mesh well with my personality. Yes, I have learned a lot, but I wasn’t able to use my greatest strengths because I spent all of my time trying to fit my round self in that square firm. I’ve got better things to do.
Not Many Folks Want a “Perfect” Friend
I learned that no one is looking for a perfect friend. First of all, no one is perfect so if I’m trying to be perfect, I’m obviously delusional. On top of that, over the years as I worked to create a certain self-image people assumed I wasn’t interested in fun or that I would judge or look down on them.
It wasn’t until partway through college that I finally let my guard down enough for non-relatives to start giving me nicknames. No one had ever done that before!
Perfection is not a true aspiration. It is a waste of time. A distraction from childhood disappointments, parental disapproval and maybe the microaggression and a society that undermines you because you’re an “other.”
But here’s the thing: you’re not perfect. You know it. I know it. They know it. And that’s a good thing.
It means you’re a real person.
Stop the charade and give yourself a break.