The Perfect You
We all have this idea about the perfect version of ourselves. The person we think we should be. It probably includes things like:
I should always be polite.
I should always be caring to those I love.
I should never lose my temper.
I should not feel sorry for myself.
I should be grateful and appreciate what I have.
I should never over eat.
I should exercise daily.
I should weigh…
This perfect version of you is made up of all the values and beliefs you’ve acquired over the years. You may not actually have a list written down, but this version is there in the recesses of your brain. I know because I have one too. This is the perfect you. The person you should be.
The Problem With Perfect
The problem with this perfect version of ourselves is that we often hold her as the standard to which we measure ourselves. You know, the one who does everything right the first time.
When we fall short, we criticize and judge ourselves. We “should” all over ourselves.
You may not even realize you are doing this. It will often look like this:
I shouldn’t have lost my temper!
I shouldn’t have eaten so much!
I should be more organized!
I should have got this done already!
Judgement Hampers Growth
There is absolutely nothing wrong with high standards or striving to be better. Striving to excel can be motivating. Continued growth and development is good.
It can become a problem when your automatic response to falling short of those high standards is to beat yourself up.
We feel we need to judge, criticize, and punish ourselves in order to be better. That if we don’t judge, it’s like we are condoning our sub par behavior. Or, that by scolding ourselves, we will be motivated to do better or be better.
The reality is self judgement and criticism never lead to lasting improvement. They produce negative feelings and from negative feelings, we usually avoid taking action. Our fear of our own harsh judgement prevents us from acting at all. If we try and fail, we know we will spin out in our own negativity and anger at ourselves. We start thinking if we can’t do it perfectly, why do it at all?
What self judgement actually does is hamper our growth, not promote it. It does not move us forward. It keeps us stuck.
My mentor teaches a concept called B- effort. B-… What?? Shouldn’t I always strive for an A? As a high achiever all my life, this was a hard concept to swallow.
What I have realized since is that by always striving for excellence, there were a lot of things I didn’t try, jobs I didn’t even apply for, risks I didn’t take simply because I believed I wasn’t good enough. If I couldn’t do it perfectly, why do it at all?
When we strive for perfect it is usually because we fear the judgement of others or ourselves. This thinking keeps us stuck.
B- is good. It allows us to be human and move forward. It allows us to grow.
I still struggle with my tendency toward perfectionism. However, focusing on B- effort keeps me moving forward, taking risks, creating things and contributing to the world. I know that I am my own worst critic. I now recognize it in myself and can stop myself before I head down the judgement spiral. I also know I can choose to be kind to myself when I fall short, reminding myself I’m human and mistakes are how I grow.
What Standard Are You Holding Yourself To?
Awareness is always the first step to becoming more deliberate in our lives.
Start taking notice of the standards you are holding yourself to. Are you expecting perfection? Do you beat yourself up when you fall short? Have you been this way all your life?
How you treat yourself and talk to yourself when you fall short, make mistakes, lose your temper, or wallow in self pity matters. It matters a lot. So start rethinking what the “perfect” you is.
In my coaching program, I work with my clients to build their awareness. I teach them to be curious and compassionate with themselves. If you are interested in taking this concept deeper, then click here to schedule a consult.