I have talked about the “perfectionist” part of me in previous posts. When this part of me gets going, it wants to set high standards and throw all concepts of work/life balance out the window. You may have a similar perfectionist inside of you. This perfectionist may say harsh comments like: Why are you not good enough? Why aren’t you trying harder? How are you making so many mistakes? Are you really taking a break right now? How are you screwing this up? You notice your anxiety continuing to increase with each and every question. It never feels easy to hear these criticisms, and the struggle to calm this part of you can feel like the biggest hurdle.
There are a lot of components that go into creating this perfectionist. We all carry wounds and burdens from our past. The ways in which we were raised, our childhood experiences, our moments of distress, and many other factors collaborate to form this perfectionist. Ironically, this perfectionist is acting in ways that it feels are the most effective in getting results. It hopes that by yelling, criticizing, or nagging, you will improve. Despite these well-intentions, the perfectionist’s words are hard to hear, especially when they fly at you frequently and incessantly. There are many ways we can support this part. We can use counselling strategies like EMDR and IFS to learn what happened to create this part of our personalities. We can then provide it the space and tools it needs in order to feel less anxious. We can focus on exposure work to help this part of you learn that making mistakes is not the be-all and end-all that it fears. We can gently challenge some of its beliefs to change thought patterns. We can work on mindfulness to recognize when this part gets triggered, and support it much sooner.
I want you to have support right now if your perfectionist parts are feeling anxious. Dr. Christopher Germer is an incredible practitioner who helped develop mindful self-compassion. I encourage you to take a few minutes for yourself and practice this exercise, and I hope that it resonates with you.
At the end of your counselling experience, I hold many hopes for your inner-perfectionists. I hope this perfectionist learns that it’s okay to screw up and to have regrets. Making mistakes is part of being human. I hope this part knows that there is a future beyond this moment and this mistake. I hope this part of you recognizes that this is a moment of suffering; there is a beginning, and there will be an end (even though, sometimes it feels like it lasts forever). I hope it realizes that this moment can be just that: one moment in a lifetime of many moments. I hope that it is able to look around and see that there is more to you than being perfect. I hope it notices the humor, the personality, the kindness, the patience, the efforts, and all the other factors that make you a well-rounded person. I hope it recognizes that these other factors do not go away because you have made a mistake. I hope this perfectionist inside learns to accept that you are not perfect, nor do you have to be perfect, or prove to others that you are perfect.
As always, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to reach out.