Transforming Perfectionism

We all have an inner perfectionist.  It may come out rarely or only in certain situations. It may be the dominant voice guiding everything.  

“That really is not good enough”
“You would look a lot better if you just (fill in the blank with mean words)”
“Other parents are (fill in the blank with the Real Simple worthy images and stories from Facebook)” 

There are lots of ways that perfectionism is blocking your success.  And the truth is… your perfectionism probably helped you too. It may have kept you in line and on track, assisted you in achieving your goals.  You don’t have to eliminate perfectionism just because it gets in your way. Think transformation instead. 

Rather than keeping it or banishing it, you can transform it.  Perfectionism can become healthy striving when you balance it out with self-compassion. Healthy striving means aiming for excellence while acknowledging your effort, your successes and enjoying the process. Starting with a visual image can help, especially if you’re more visual and having a picture helps you clarify information.

Give your perfectionist voice a visual image.
My inner perfectionist wears white. She is beautiful and moves with grace. She speaks in a gorgeous voice but also says things that are super harsh.  

Your image may be a person, an animal, an object, a color.  You can even name it. When you hear any version of “That’s not good enough” in your head, what do you envision? A black cloud? The mean girl from second grade?

When you have a visual image speaking to you about perfection, it’s easier to get some space and consider an alternative thought. You can tell yourself “That’s my perfectionist talking” and consider whether you’re going to listen or engage that self-compassion and treat yourself like a friend.  

Give your Healthy Striver an image.
Transform your perfectionist image into an image of a healthy striver. Mine is an image of me when I ran the Color Run. I wore white. And I ran while covered in colored powder. I was messy. I participated and had fun. My striver likes to have goals and achieve them.  She is honest. She’ll tell me if I’ve made a mistake and push me if more effort is needed. She believes I don’t have to go it alone and holds self-compassion. For instance, when a project is  “good enough” and needs to be submitted, I get that message loud and clear. My striver pushes me to be real.

What do your perfectionist and your healthy striver look like?  Your favorite color? Your favorite aunt, grampa or best friend? Let a visual image help you create some distance so you can get cozy with imperfection.