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How To Tell If Perfectionism Is Getting In Your Way

by Elise Museles

Not too long ago… I threw in the towel.

I know. Maybe not the best way to start a blog post – but it’s the truth.

It was a concept in its infant stages. I realized how much I absolutely loved sharing my story and discussing perfectionism, and how the message of learning to let go (even just a little) resonated deeply with so many of you. Besides being a topic that’s close to my heart and soul, I also knew I’d struck a chord…in a big way.

My head started spinning: How could I create a community based on releasing the not-so-pretty parts of perfectionism?  How could we band together and still strive for excellence, but do it in a way that’s kind & nourishing to ourselves? How amazing would it be if I could share the insights I’d discovered (the hard way) to help other women move past their obsession with perfect, and fall back in love with life again – flaws and all?

But as soon as I started my usual analysis… about a thousand other negative voices popped into my head.

I switched to that all-too-familiar radio station playing that not-good-enough tune:

The timing is all wrong. You can’t do this right now! There’s no way it’ll be good enough.” (Think: wait for all the stars to align.)

Perfectionists have incredibly high standards. Do you really think your stuff will measure up?” (Think: not good enough.)

“You shouldn’t just ‘measure up’. You should exceed their expectations!” (Think: painfully high standards.)

The more I thought about it and tried to tell myself I could make it work, the more disagreements and self-imposed obstacles kept running through my mind. Ironic, huh?

The toughest part about a deeply-ingrained tendency like perfectionism is that you can’t always notice it creeping in and permeating different facets of your life: in the way you eat, live, love, work and play.

Maybe you can relate. If you have read this far, my guess is you do, or you know someone else who does. Trust me, there are a lot of us out there.

Since my eyes have been opened to my own personal struggles, something interesting happened. I see perfectionism and the not-feeling-good-enough phenomenon affecting all ages, sizes and backgrounds.

Women everywhere are constantly pushing themselves to be smarter, tougher, thinner, faster, sexier, better… the list never stops.

While it may not be totally obvious on the surface that you’ve been bitten by the perfectionist bug, deep down, the sting is there. You can feel it by the constant disappointment you may experience in yourself… and in others.

Why does that disappointment happen again and again? Because, setting “perfect” as the standard is simply not attainable. By any human being. Ever.

In moments like these, it’s critical to notice our perfectionist tendencies are on the offensive, weighing us down. The only way to sidestep going totally nuts is to have an open, honest conversation with ourselves.

By recognizing our craving for “perfect”, we give ourselves a fighting chance to move forward!

Then, and only then, can we acknowledge that “perfection” (or what appears to us to be the crowning success or achievement) might be the very thing standing in our way of a fuller sense of happiness and satisfaction.

Here are a few strategies that have helped me create a little ease in my life – and hopefully these suggestions will do the same for you!

Punch Out Perfection

First, ask yourself: is this struggle preventing me from doing something I enjoy or that is important to me? Is it stressing me out and making me frustrated? Is there anything in my way but me?

Then, examine: can I tie this feeling back to an experience in my life? How long have I been doing this particular thing? Where could it have come from?  This will help you look at the situation from all angles, and really learn how deeply it affects you.

Remind yourself: I am good enough. I have enough. I deserve to feel fulfilled and happy. Every single day.

Back to the community that I tried to talk myself out of creating.

In the midst of my battle with my inner critic, I remembered this was the moment to confront my perfectionism head-on. No more waiting for all the stars to align. It was time to forget about the “all or nothing” approach and find a middle ground to soften those painfully high standards.

So, I created a tool just for you. (Drumroll, please..)

I call it The GOOD ENOUGH Quiz. (And it’s FREE.)

This quiz is designed to deepen your understanding of your relationship with perfectionism, and alert you to how it’s affecting your sleep, waistline, hormones, relationships & quality of life.

It only takes a few minutes (it’s actually fun!) and at the end, you’ll be offered a few suggestions about how to find a healthy balance of discipline & freedom – and a couple of juicy gifts, just for kicks.

Together we’ll discover: Good enough is more than good enough. Always.

Join the GOOD ENOUGH celebration over on my new website, and let’s get this illuminating conversation going!

Click NOW to get started.

Question of the day: Can you see how you just might be getting in your own way? What has helped you realize that you are good enough?  Share your thoughts & insights in the comments below. Remember, when you open up, you might give someone else the strength to do the same.

Here’s to discovering a new kind of “perfect”…

10 Responses to How To Tell If Perfectionism Is Getting In Your Way

  1. Lorna September 6, 2013 at 3:10 pm #

    As a recovering perfectionist, I really relate to this post Elise. We women do ourselves a grave disservice by this constant striving for perfection. I also think that while we desperately try to maintain this image, underneath things are not ok at all. I love that you are starting the conversation. Let’s give ourselves permission to talk about what is really going on. Then we won’t need to be perfect, because we will have peace.

    • Elise September 6, 2013 at 3:23 pm #

      Lorna,
      Thank you for such an insightful comment. It’s true that we do ourselves a disservice by constantly striving for what we can never achieve. You hit the nail on the head with “underneath things are not ok at all.” I am ready to have this open conversation and so happy to have you participating. To peace & ease!

  2. Silvia September 6, 2013 at 5:39 pm #

    I don’t think I’m a perfectionist but not sure. I’ll have to take your quiz. What I am sure about is that it’s hard to accept ourselves wholeheartedly flaws and all and it’s a common ailment. I even wrote a blog post about it a few months back in which I compared people to an English muffin – you know how they taste better if you rip it apart with a fork instead of using a knife so you can get all those nooks and crannies to hold the butter? It’s the same thing with people…it’s the bumps that make us better! You hit it Elise!

    • Elise September 6, 2013 at 6:07 pm #

      Silvia! I LOVE your comparison to the buttery English muffin… and that the bumps make us better. I look forward to reading your blog post that you wrote a few months ago. Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom!

  3. Lana Shlafer September 6, 2013 at 6:33 pm #

    I love the topic of this post and the quiz you’ve created! For me, feeling good enough came by realizing that beliefs are simply thoughts I’ve been thinking over and over. So I made a conscious choice to find more and more ways to feel good and practice a new belief that if I feel good, that is enough. And it has worked so brilliantly for me that now I have a whole business with the sole purpose of helping clients remember their magnificence and recognize the perfection of their journey and who they are!

    • Elise September 6, 2013 at 6:40 pm #

      Lana,
      Thanks for sharing your shift in perspective. It makes all the difference in our happiness. It must feel so empowering to be comfortable having the belief that if you feel good, that is enough. Your business mission is great, and I would love to know some of the ways you help your clients recognize the perfection of their journey.

  4. Lacy September 6, 2013 at 7:24 pm #

    I have always been a perfectionist—especially around eating and dieting. In fact, it turned into a diagnosis of disordered eating for me, which I have worked diligently to overcome. I have to remind myself every single day that good enough is good enough!

    • Elise September 11, 2013 at 11:52 am #

      Lacy, It’s true that we do have to continually remind ourselves that good enough is good enough…and it’s easy to slip back into our old ways of wanting to tighten the grip. Thank you for sharing your story.

  5. Alejandra Ruani September 13, 2013 at 10:33 am #

    Elise, just discovered your blog and done the quiz, came up as raging perfectionist!

    I need a big dose of your “good enough”!!!

    Best,
    Alejandra

    • Elise September 18, 2013 at 9:00 pm #

      Alejandra,

      Well, you are in the right place to get your helping of “good enough”…we’ll work on those raging perfectionist tendencies.

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