Story of a Recovering Perfectionist

Hi, my name is Jenn and I’m a recovering perfectionist. 

Although I’m still battling with it from time to time, I have recovered. I wanted to do this post because I thought it could help someone learn how to identify perfectionism and how it is possible to overcome it.

When I think of perfectionism, I think of

  • People pleasing
  • Always trying to do the best possible, regardless of the outcome
  • Negative self-talk when things don’t go right
  • Constant comparison of yourself to others
  • Failure

I’m sure there’s more! I’m sure you can come up with a whole host of things. If your list is different than mine, that’s ok! You learn how to identify perfectionism based on how you feel when something happens. When you start to open up and be more observant, you can learn if you are someone that tries to be perfect all the time.

For me, perfectionism will always be there.

I remember it always being there. It’s not like at age six I discovered I was a perfectionist, I truly think I was born that way. As a kid, I always tried to do things right. When I say right, I mean according to the law. Laws of government, parental rules, heck, the laws of life! I hated getting dirty because I thought I always had to b clean. I didn’t like not doing my homework because I felt responsible to get it done. I was always crying because I never felt like I was good enough.

My parents didn’t really understand me. They thought I was too grown up, too independent and couldn’t physically be a child. They thought they could “fix” it. They registered me in soccer so I would be forced to get dirty. And it sort of worked. The other pieces were still there and there was no fixing it. I remember being this way all through grade school and into college. It was just the way I was. Looking back, I think that was partly because I was diagnosed with asthma early on and had to grow up really fast. I had to learn how to take care of myself.

After college, I started to really notice my ticks and the feelings I would get. I started to open my eyes and pay attention to how I behaved and how I felt and whether or not my feelings seemed to be extreme. And I read books. A lot of them. Books on personal development and how I could become a better person. The more I read, the more I changed. The more I felt it was easier to cope with life. Today, I’m a much different person and I am what I would consider recovered.

How the heck do I recover?

Keep in mind, you are a work in progress. It’s not going to be an overnight transformation, but you can change. Here are 3 tips for you that you can put into play today and start your journey:

  1. Be observant. – It’s not just about opening your eyes. You need to open your eyes, ears and get in tune with what’s going on in you and around you. Be prepared to take a serious hard look at yourself and your life. 
  2. Document, document, document! – You’re not writing a report for anyone but yourself so it doesn’t have to be perfect. Grab a pad of paper, a journal, or a beautiful moleskin notebook. The choice is yours! Document what happens to you and for you every day, if you can. Write out your feelings, just before you go to bed so you can capture as much as you can.
  3. Be patient with yourself. – It will take time so be patient with yourself. Know that it’s ok to make mistakes and still try to be perfect every once in a while. I do think there are times for it, but you don’t have to let perfectionism control your life.

These are the starting points that got me to recovery. They can start you on the right track too. I have one more tip for you that is vital!

Educate yourself!

This tip is HUGE because it’s what got me to really change. To really put things into action. Find a personal development or growth book that you gravitate toward and read it. Soak it in! And put the changes from that book into action.

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