I had to give up being perfect a long time ago. It was an impossible ideal that I consistently "failed" at achieving over and over again. Not because I'm not smart enough, good enough or capable enough. Simply because perfection doesn't exist. My definition of perfection was subjective, as well as completely different from other people's. Therefore, I had gotten caught on the hamster wheel of trying to live up to not only my own unrealistic expectations, but what I also perceived my parents', bosses', friends', loved ones' expectations to be. Which in and of itself, is a guessing game -- and personal torture. Finally making the decision to stop trying to be perfect in any way or all ways is providing yourself with a new sense of freedom. Here's how you can start to get there...
Give up comparing yourself to everyone else.
Who cares what anyone else is doing? I know that you do, but let's start letting that go. You were not put on this planet to be like everyone else, nor does anyone in your life expect you to be. Most of what we think about others (and what others do, think or say) is our perception; it is not fact. Stop scrolling through Facebook and crying about how 47 of your high school classmates are married and you're not yet. That will not help you accept yourself.
Envision your ideal outcome when it comes to each area of your life. Truly envision it in your mind, write about it and ask for it (from a higher power, the universe, etc). Then go and attain small, achievable goals for yourself WITHOUT comparing it to whether or not it's the same/as good/better than what someone else is doing.
Make small, achievable goals.
Brainstorm and write down goals that you can set for yourself that are attainable, yet also are in line with your ideals -- job, relationships, family, housing, etc.
By January 1st, I will ask my boss for a raise.
Starting November 15th, I will begin putting $100 away in my savings account once a month to begin saving for a home.
I will begin exercising for 30 minutes 2x per week.
When we give ourselves a goal that is too unattainable (i.e., I am going to get up at 5am and work out for 2 hours before work every single day) , it is often inevitable that we won't end up following through, and therefore utilize that as an opportunity to pity ourselves and/or beat ourselves up for once again "failing." When we maintain negative core beliefs (I've discussed this in previous posts), and we have not yet resolved or worked on changing those beliefs, we are inclined to engage in behaviors that reinforce those core beliefs because that is all we know. So, let's try and set some actual attainable goals for yourself so that you can begin accomplishing those goals. This helps lead you to feeling accomplished, and therefore changing your neural pathways to enact NEW, healthy behaviors and create NEW, healthy beliefs about yourself.
Getting it done is better than it being "perfect."
Just because that essay you wrote, or that presentation you put together isn't "perfect" (which I don't even know if you could tell me what that looks like) doesn't mean you should just give it up altogether and not complete your task or goal. I often hear this from others; that if what they are setting out to do is not completed perfectly, then they just stop doing it. Well, that just sounds like fear getting in your way. Completing a task, a project or a goal is better than not completing it at all simply because of your inability to reach an impossible standard. Once again, this kind of behavior is typical example of enacting self-defeating behaviors that reinforce our negative core beliefs.
Allow yourself to be exactly as you are.
I don't mean that you shouldn't continue to improve and grow as an individual. Allow yourself to be you without abusing yourself into trying to be someone that you aren't meant to be: perfect. Stop shying away from engaging in activities that you think others will make fun of you for. Accept that you did the best you could on that assignment, and then ask your professor what can be changed so you can do better next time. Growth is GOOD. Making mistakes is OKAY -- it's how we learn. If you are constantly trying to change everything about how you look, how you sound, how you act and how you perform, I promise you that you will never be happy. I have met plenty of people who have lost 100 pounds, or graduated top of their class who still weren't happy after the fact. Why? Because everything they were trying to make look perfect on the outside didn't change anything on the inside.
Every morning, I want you to begin your day by making a list of one thing that makes you different from other people. What makes you unique and special? I want you to consider reframing the qualities that make you different, into qualities that are actually strengths. Then, I want you to write one thing that you like about yourself. Lastly, write three things that you are grateful for. Do this every day, and the way you think about yourself and the world around you, can change.
Say this to yourself each day. You may not believe it yet, but this will help change your thoughts and thus your habits.
I am not my thoughts.
My thoughts are not always true. I am in the habit of believing my thoughts.
So I will create a new habit of questioning them.
The shame I carry is not my own.
Because my thoughts are not my own.
I will not run from my thoughts and emotions.
I will learn to sit with them.
I will learn to breathe through them.
I will learn new behaviors in response to them.
I let go of my old beliefs that I need to be perfect.
I let go of my old beliefs about perfectionism and anything else that is no longer serving me and is blocking me from growth.
I choose to accept myself.
I choose to be gentle with myself.
I choose peace.