Perfectionism: Being Tough on Myself
Since I was a little girl I’ve been a perfectionist. The way I colored in the lines or how my homework had to be neat all the time, showed how hard I was on myself to be my best and do my best. I was tough on myself at a young age. My grades had to be perfect. I was my worst critic and worse enemy. These moments created the negative self-talk habits that eventually evolved into anxiety (but that’s my other story).
Everyone who knew me was always so surprised at how hard I worked or how much effort I put into things even if that much work wasn’t necessary. I always pushed myself to the limit and challenged myself to be the best I can. This mindset wasn’t always healthy or helpful for me. That five page paper that was supposed to be two pages or those four page notes that was supposed to be one or two was how much more time I put into things I didn’t need to, but let me get to the point. How hard I worked and how much energy I put into the most basic things created in me a monster of perfectionist tendencies that didn’t allow for me to be compassionate to myself.
Tough Love and Anger
As I got older I began meeting people (i.e teachers and religious leaders) who believed in using tough love to get across to others. Their lack of soft compassion made me even more hard on myself and more angry that I should be better and doing better. This made me hate them for not seeing how much work I put into things that I did. Phrases like “what happened?”,”You should have done better”, “this is not like you”, you’ll be okay”,”toughen up and do better” and “get better because people are watching you” became extremely toxic to the already monster of perfectionism that drove me crazy daily. I became angry and frustrated. People who used tough love around me made me avoid them, prohibiting me in learning self- love and compassion. I was always on myself and didn’t know how to slow down and rest. When I was struggling, I didn’t know how to tell others. I would convince myself that I’m always supposed to be okay and ready all the time.
While I did have supportive people in my life, those who used tough love weren’t as effective even if they had good intentions. I appreciate how much I learned about myself, however, though the bumpy roads of my childhood and teen years though those people who showed me tough love.
Moral of the Story: Takeaways
Be kind to yourself and others and also show your children that it’s OK to fail. Learning and growing with your failures is important in self-development. I wasn’t accepting of failure and that made me into the perfectionist monster I was. Because I wasn’t compassionate to myself, the lack of compassion from others made me angry and frustrated. I didn’t learn how to slow down till later in life. I didn’t learn the word no till I was 22.
Self-care and compassion is important. Be compassionate to yourself. Learn self-worth and slow down when you feel yourself working too much. Being the best isn’t necessary as long as you put in how much effort you can. Put in a healthy amount of effort into task. Your worth and your energy is based on you. Know your worth and put a healthy amount of energy into your daily activities. Be kind to yourself and learn to say to yourself “I did a good job. Now I can rest.”
Also, not everyone reacts positively to tough love so remember to always add compassion and love in your interactions. Some people have daily battles mentally and may take offense to phrases that aren’t helpful in showing them how, what, or when to do better. Be encouraging.