How Perfectionists Are Punished By the Pandemic

Posts Tagged ‘mindfulness’

How Perfectionists Are Punished By the Pandemic

Posted on: May 6th, 2020 by Lindsey Rogers, LCPC

The coronavirus pandemic is terrible, causing us all to have to adjust to a completely unprecedented way of living. It is tremendously, dreadfully hard. It is hard on an older generation who might not be used to socializing via Zoom and does not want to spend their retirement limited to social distancing from their peers and the community in which they have invested. It is hard on the extroverts who get energy from engaging and being with others. It is hard for the folks who were already fearful of contamination, as this is now their nightmare realized. It is hard for those who are working full-time and have no work-life balance and those who are now struggling financially because they are not working. It is hard on the single folks who are alone and may feel listless trying to fill their time. It is hard on the people with a full household who are juggling work and fulltime childcare and education. In some way or another, this current state is causing everyone to lose a little. That is what sacrifice is about. However, the group that might feel exceptionally punished by this time is the perfectionists who are used to doing and being it all. Because right now, perfectionism is utterly impossible.

Why perfect is impossible right now
Perfectionism is all about finding control, achieving, and getting results. However, we are not in a result-driven time. We don’t know what life is going to look like in the next few weeks, let alone months or years. Having to settle for less than amazing when you have spent your life doing well is so hard and such a loss. There is a lot of thought likening this time to a grief period. Perfectionists are likely experiencing all the grief states such as denial and anger when they are faced with the loss of what they have been able to achieve in the past versus what can be done now. Now is a time of surviving and maintaining, and improving ourselves—which has been the lifeblood of perfectionists—is getting harder and harder.

To the perfect moms and dads
As a perfectionistic parent, there may have been a push to do all the virtual classes and all the activities in the early weeks. Work full time and be a full-time teacher for the kids? No problem! Bring on the impossible, right?! You basically eat Pinterest boards for breakfast so you can totally do this. But sustained overextension has likely burned you out. You may be fighting with your children or partner because they have their own resistance to your perfectionism, especially now. You may typically be able to move mountains, but now you have little people who may be resistant to rules/listening/bathing/learning/etc. and couldn’t care less about your color-coded schedule board.

To the perfect workers
As someone who is perfectionistic about your job, perhaps you are taking on all the roles and singlehandedly keeping your business going. Maybe you are starting to feel resentful and question why you are working so hard. Perhaps you are neglecting yourself and sleep. It is possible that you have also burned out and perhaps received negative feedback about your performance, which is a huge gut punch because you so deeply care about work and your legacy. Maybe you have previously plotted the best career steps for you and now your industry or line of work is negatively impacted. There is nothing like a global pandemic to make you shift from having a strong focus and identity tied to work to questioning your purpose.

To the perfect caretakers
As a perfectionistic friend or family member, maybe you have spent a lot of time being there for everyone. Maybe planning celebrations and other ways of being thoughtful are getting cancelled so you have shifted to sending and dropping off all the things you think might cheer others up. Maybe you are making all the Zoom calls despite your exhaustion and checking in with everyone else. Perhaps the pressure you have put on yourself to singlehandedly be attuned to everyone else’s mental health might be having the opposite effect on your own mental state. It is possible you are feeling detached or just empty inside.

To those with perfect aesthetics
As someone who has perfected your appearance or the appearance of your space, it is possible this is starting to get hard to maintain. Perhaps you have relied on others to maintain your appearance, such as hairstylists, and now left to your own devices you have not produced a perfect set of bangs. Maybe you are experiencing fluctuations in your weight right now despite usually having a tight grip on what the scale says. Maybe you are used to having an über-clean and organized home but you can’t keep up with the amount of laundry/dishes/floor cleaning now that everyone is home all the time. Perhaps you have leaned into organizing yet you have run out of things to de-clutter and now feel stuck with nothing more to do with that nervous energy.

How to settle for less
If you have a reaction to the above subtitle, take a breath and don’t stop reading just yet. In a lot of ways, this time is causing us to flex and make changes that will benefit us in the long run. It’s easier said than done to lean into positives right now. However, finding ways to loosen the grip that perfectionism might have on you is a good thing. Right now, perfection has to shift from results to process.

Notice little blips of perfect
If you are not completely ready to let go of perfectionism, there are ways to notice and attribute some of the control you want. Baby steps, right?! Find ways to complete tasks or find small moments of making things perfect. Maybe you can focus on a specific assignment, work conversation, or interaction with others. Perhaps the entire house can’t be perfected, but getting the dishes done each night is possible. Whether it is finishing a project, a puzzle, a book, or organizing a shelf, something—there are ways to have some of that sense of achievement that perfectionists crave. A caveat though: See small moments of completion and perfection as band-aids versus a gateway drug to taking on more and more and then getting burned out once again.

Notice perfect presence
The pull towards perfectionism is often about how it looks versus how hard it is to get there. Embodying the principals of mindfulness, if you can be present right now that is good enough. Instead of getting pulled into the past or future, staying mindful allows us to loosen some of the hold perfectionism can have. Meditation is a huge help with mindfulness. Breathing and taking in a sensory experience is what we can go all in on right now. Use that energy of being a hard worker to turn inward and strive for finding ways to breathe, moments of calm, and focus on acceptance.

You are perfectly human
Embrace failures. Lower expectations. Let go. Allow yourself to be vulnerable and break down. These statements spit in the face of perfectionism. Let others see your flaws? Accept your humanity and allow others to see you are not actually superhuman?! Absolutely not; no thanks. But that is the way through this. We need to ask for support and allow some of our friends, family, and colleagues to succeed and win. This goes against every fiber of our being. But we have to stop swinging from one extreme to another. Not being perfect does not mean failure. We literally cannot do everything now, but we also can’t do nothing. So find moments, even very small ones, where you just try on the idea of agreeing that you are struggling, too. Let yourself admit that you are imperfect during a global pandemic. In a time of restrictions and loss, what you can receive or gain is the freedom to be authentic with yourself and the world around you.

How to Increase Confidence During A Big Life Change

Posted on: April 10th, 2019 by Kelsey Ruffing, LCPC

Humans are creatures of habit. We like to go to the same coffee shop and order the same drink from the same barista every day before work. We have our routines and we stick to them. This can be a healthy way of functioning, but this habitual nature can also lead to great difficulty when adjusting to change. It can also keep people from initiating change in their lives, whether that is finding a new job, moving to a new city, or starting a new degree program. Change can leave people feeling uncertain and anxious because it is different from what we know, and it can feel risky to alter that comfortable routine.

So, what holds us back from making big life change? Most would answer “fear”. You wouldn’t be wrong. Fear certainly holds us back from many opportunities for growth in life. However, there is something even deeper than fear that inhibits us from leaning in to change, and that is confidence. One’s own belief in themselves and their capabilities is the underlying cause of resistance to change. The more self-confidence you have, the more capable you feel you are of being successful. The less self-confidence you have, the more likely you are to believe you will fail and the more resistant to change you will become.

It really is ok to fail. Sometimes we have to take the leap and prove to ourselves that we really are capable of adjusting to change. Individuals that thrive when change occurs are confident because they have faced change before head-on and have failed. Ironically, failure and the overcoming of failure lead to greater self-confidence. When we test ourselves physically, mentally, spiritually, etc., we realize we can push beyond the boundaries we set for ourselves. When we test ourselves we learn that we are so much more capable than we thought we were. When we fail, we are forced to adjust, to learn more about ourselves, and to try again.

Perhaps someone is not ready to jump right in to change, and that is okay. There are other ways to boost self-confidence before taking the action. It is important to note, the more these interventions are practiced, the greater the impact they will have on self-confidence.

Self-talk is everything. What you say to yourself daily influences how you feel about yourself and how you treat yourself. Negative self-talk certainly outweighs positive self-talk in individuals lacking self-confidence. Replacing negative self-talk with positive self-talk can be a process and take time. The first step is to recognize your negative self-talk and become aware of it. The next step is to replace the negative with a positive in the moment.

Reflect back on accomplishments. We truly do not give ourselves enough credit for what we have accomplished in our lifetime. Take some time to write a list of successes and try to remember what those accomplishments meant to you at that time. Reflecting back on times you overcame adversity, won an award, or completed a difficult task at work allows you to recognize your capabilities and can boost self-confidence greatly.

Do something different. Remember that monotonous daily routine you have? Try to mix it up a little by implementing one small thing into your day or week. This could be trying a new place to eat, saying hi to a stranger, switching up that shade of lipstick, or reading at night instead of watching T.V. Implementing one small thing can ease you into change, add more variety, and increase positive feelings. Once you see small change is not so bad, big change may not seem so scary.

Affirmations are a must. Affirmations are positive statements we recite to ourselves daily. Affirmations have been shown to increase happiness, but they are also a great way to increase self-confidence. An affirmation for self-confidence would look something like “I am capable of handling anything that comes my way” or “I have what it takes to be successful in life”. Although you may not believe it right away when saying it, through daily repetition your brain will come to accept these statements and believe them to be true.

It is normal to feel hesitant when facing a big life change and having fear of the unknown is very common, but becoming resistant to change can be maladaptive to our health. Building upon self-confidence in order to feel capable of navigating change is key to ultimately becoming successful after the change has occurred. Building self-confidence is also the key to getting out of your comfort zone and exploring the variety of options that life has to offer. You might just surprise yourself and find that the change you were scared to make, is actually the change you needed!

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