If we could remember that “comparison is the thief of happiness” as Brene Brown quotes in her book The Gifts of Imperfection. Once we start the comparison game, we will always find someone that is better than us in some regard and we will never reach what we think we need to obtain.
Many of us struggle to realize that when we are striving for perfection we are rejecting ourselves over and over because we will never achieve the image of perfection that we have created for ourselves. It doesn’t exist. This image is usually based on societal expectations and the social environments that we are a part of. We may be involved in things simply because that is what everyone else is doing and we don’t want to look different. We also may be doing it because we want to “fit in”.
It is very critical that we recognize the difference between “fitting in” and “belonging”. Fitting in requires us to modify who we really are so that the group of people we want to be a part of will accept us. Belonging simply requires us to be our true selves. We don’t have to change anything to “belong” to a group. Sometimes we work so hard to fit in that we couldn’t tell anyone who we really are anymore or what we value, because we’ve become so lost in trying to morph into this image that we think will make us happy and will allow us to be a part of “the group”.
True happiness comes from letting go of these unrealistic expectations. Once we start living life for ourselves, we will find that we have a new energy and passion and that life becomes fun and rewarding. We gain confidence and look forward to doing things; we want to share our energy with others. We will feel a much different energy when we are doing something because we truly enjoy it versus doing it because it’s what we “should” do.
Here are some helpful tips in overcoming perfectionism:
- Aim for your best. Don’t get lost in trying to achieve perfection. Perfection doesn’t exist and more often than not you will give up on the task at hand because it becomes too frustrating or overwhelming.
- Compare yourself to yourself. If you continuously compare yourself to others you will always find someone who is better.
- Accept that you are human and everyone makes mistakes. That is the nature of humans; no one is perfect, despite what you think. Give yourself permission to make mistakes, especially in new situations.
- Live in the “real” world. Surround yourself with things that depict reality not a fantasy image or dream life.
- Maximize the positives/Minimize the negatives. Focus on what is going well in your life and your successes. Learn from your mistakes, but don’t ruminate over them.
- Failure is an opportunity for growth. Instead of dwelling on what you did wrong, look at what you can learn from the experience and seize the opportunity to do it again and do it better.
- Things don’t always have a right way to be done or a right answer. There can be multiple ways of doing things or answering questions.
- Forgive yourself for your shortcomings. Be proud of who you are and give up the idea of perfectionism.
The quote by E.E. Cummings says it perfectly “To be nobody-but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody but yourself-means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight-and never stop fighting.”