The list of things we want or need to do every day seems to be getting longer and we wish we had more hours each day to accomplish them. Getting the kids ready for school, being ‘on time’ in the office, showing the boss that we are capable and worthy, putting nutritious meals on the table, going to the gym, and being the partner and lover to your spouse is just the short list of things you try to ace every day.
And then you forget something or simply didn’t have the time to get to it…you forgot to pay the cable bill, or missed your uncle’s birthday or simply didn’t get the chance to fold the laundry. You get frustrated and start beating yourself up. How could I forget?! This disappointment in ourselves often snowballs and we, especially us women, keep dwelling on the one thing we missed rather than appreciating all the other things we accomplished so well.
Our desire to be perfect is also often felt in the workplace. We want to please our manager, ultimately hoping to get the confident boosting words “Well done!” that will motivate us to keep going. But instead of hearing constructive feedback, we hear criticism and start wondering if we are really ‘good enough’ to do this job.
Exactly those thoughts of frustration and worries about not being good enough have an immense impact on your body. Disappointment, frustration, doubt and fear trigger our sympathetic nervous system responsible for sending out adrenaline, the stress hormone. Prolonged stress has grave implications on your body, impacting your mood and sleep, increasing your blood pressure, and accelerating aging, just to name a few.
But putting your body in a state of stress isn’t the only downside of trying to be perfect. Perfectionism really stifles your creativity as you worry that your ‘pie in the sky’ ideas could be perceived as silly. Ever sat in an office meeting where your boss asked you to brainstorm about a topic? You’ll probably notice that some chime in more than other. Are the quiet ones really just shy or are they worried about their ideas not being good ideas? The other day I went to a painting class and one of the women clearly showed signs of perfectionism. She asked all other attendees how much experience we had. Sharing that she had never painted before she barely allowed herself to put the brush on the canvas. Being perfect can truly remove the joy in doing something.
Also consider that being perfect is quite frankly an unattainable feat. Think of a past goal you set yourself. How much time did you spend celebrating your success once you reached it vs. already considering a higher goal? It’s human nature. Most of us are motivated to grow, get better at things, have more success today than we had yesterday. In fact, our entire species wouldn’t have evolved to today’s sophistication if we didn’t have this drive to continuously expand and improve ourselves. To bring it back to your average day that is filled with so many things you’d like to do. Do you really think you’d sit back and be happy if you finally were able to finish them all? No, you’d find another 10 things you could be doing…and with that your frustration and level of stress increases again.
To sum it up, if you’d like to reduce your level of stress to live a healthy life, and have more fun to live a happier life, I recommend you give yourself some slack. Use the time you’d normally spend on being frustrated about not being perfect on giving gratitude to yourself for all the things you have accomplished.
You are perfect exactly as you are. There is no need to change anything except the thoughts that you aren’t good enough.