Do you ever feel like you are failing at life? Like no matter what you do, you just can’t seem to succeed at it? I think we’ve all been there at some point in our lives. It’s easy to hold ourselves to a high standard, especially when everywhere we turn we see people who seem to have it all together. Can I let you in on a secret? They don’t. No one does. We all screw up, and none of us is perfect. And you know what? That’s OK. Beautiful, even. Because it’s out of sadness that we can discover true joy, and out of brokenness that we find out what it means to really be whole.
Perfectionism is one of the greatest enemies of healthy living. Why? Because changing your lifestyle is hard, and it takes time. Too often people get discouraged because they expect too much out of themselves, and give up altogether. “It’s too hard,” they say. Or, “I just don’t have it in me.” Well let me tell you something, I guarantee all the people you look up to and admire and wish to be like have had many moments where it seemed too hard, or like they couldn’t do it. And I’ll bet there have been many times when they failed. But you know what? That’s what makes them human. We all fail. The difference between those who succeed and those who don’t is simply that successful people pushed past the failure and kept going anyway.
Now you might be reading this and saying to yourself that you aren’t a perfectionist. And maybe you aren’t, not everyone is. But before you go on to a more relevant post, ask yourself a few questions. Do you feel disappointed in yourself or others often? Do you hate yourself when you set a goal and fail to reach it? Do you get angry with yourself when you see someone you think is better than you, and wish you were more like them? All of these things can be byproducts of perfectionism. When you think like a perfectionist, you won’t be happy until things are exactly the way you want them to be. Which of course means you will never be truly happy for very long.
If, however, you strive for progress instead of perfection, things get a lot easier. Instead of being disappointed that you can’t lift X amount of weight, you can be excited because you lifted 5 more pounds than you did last week. Instead of getting irritated with people who don’t fit your idea of what a person should be like, you can see their failures and say, “Been there, done that.” Failure and fear of failure shouldn’t keep us from the things we are passionate about. And it certainly shouldn’t make us treat ourselves or others like dirt. Instead it should unite us, and make us care about each other that much more, because really, we all fail, and no one is better than another.
So if you struggle with perfectionism, here are 5 ways to fight it:
- Remind yourself of your value in spite of your failings. Don’t make excuses, just accept that you messed up, deal with it, and remember that failing doesn’t take away from your worth. Every time you do this, you will be making progress by beating the perfectionist mindset. Once this thought process becomes a habit, perfectionism won’t stand a chance. Like the quote below says, your value doesn’t decrease based on someone’s inability to see your worth (and that includes your inability to see your own worth).
- Set reasonable goals, emphasis on “reasonable.” Don’t expect yourself to lose 40 lbs in 4 weeks – that would be setting yourself up to fail. Instead, be honest with yourself about your capabilities and set goals that you know you can achieve if you work hard. That way, any progress you make beyond your goal will be a pleasant surprise.
- Make sure you have a personal cheerleader. Someone who can encourage you when things don’t go the way you planned, and loves you when you don’t love yourself. Because I guarantee that no matter your intentions or powers of self-discipline, that will happen sometimes. And we all need someone to help us get back up when it does.
- Find your worth in something outside of yourself. Personally, I am a Christian, so I find my worth in how my Lord sees me, since His love never changes no matter what I do. If you only find your worth in what you do or how you act, you are setting yourself up for a world of disappointment and hurt. But if you know that you are loved and valued by someone outside yourself no matter what, that is the best recipe for success.
- Forgive yourself, and others. When you or someone you love doesn’t live up to your expectations, forgive yourself (or them, as the case may be). Buddha once said that bitterness is like “drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” Forgiveness doesn’t change the fact that what was done was wrong, it merely takes away it’s power to destroy you.
Do you struggle with perfectionism? If so, how do you best deal (or not deal) with it? Comment below!