Perfectionism is a problem that often parades itself as a positive. Yet it’s a trait that eats up your time and keeps you from accomplishing your goals.
Looking to the Past to Prevent Perfectionism
In some recent blog posts, we have explored how your desire to be perfect may be rooted in your childhood. Now, I invite you to reduce your perfectionism, one rootlet at a time, starting with a journey back to your earliest days.
Take a few minutes to recall the verbal messages you heard about perfectionism. How young were you? Know that the earlier the words were planted, the deeper they are rooted in your psyche.
Bringing them to awareness gives you the power to balance them with realistic, self-affirming messages.
As a Child, What Messages Did You Hear About Perfectionism?
Think back to the when you first experienced pressure to be perfect. What spoken messages did you receive about being perfect?
Then ask yourself:
- Who encouraged you to be perfectionist?
- What was the version of perfectionism you were presented with?
- How did you respond over time?
- How were you rewarded?
- Which aspects of perfectionism do you carry forward from then to now?
Perfectionism Also Sits in the Spaces Between the Words …
So, let’s now look at the non-verbal messages about perfectionism that you received as you grew. These include ways your parents and those you admired may have modeled a poisonous level of perfectionism.
What behavior did you witness as a child that fueled your desire to be perfect? Did you attempt to compensate for some self-perceived shortcoming with perfection? Write down what you saw modeled by the adults in your world, then ask yourself:
- How did you feel?
- How do you enact these roles now?
Perfectionism: Assimilate and Appreciate the Lessons
Now, savor the insights that you are discovering about the role of perfectionism in your life.
What valuable lessons are you opening to about factors that influenced your childhood desire to be “perfect”? Appreciate how you can recognize that those childhood messages are now obsolete. This diminishes their power over you in the present, and you can begin to let go of the poisonous perfectionism that keeps you stuck.
© Copyright 2012 Paula Eder, Ph.D.