How to Confront Perfectionism
My OCD continues to improve with ERP therapy. Lately, my perfectionism has been my most difficult challenge. I started to strip away habits and compulsions. Now there’s an underlying anxiety to ensure things are perfect. Even if you don’t have OCD, perfectionism is very common. Our society has trained us that we need to always be at our best. For me, when you factor in chronic illness, that’s just not possible. I have some days where I struggle to function. It’s taken me my entire chronic illness journey to realize that it’s not a weakness to ask for help. In battling perfectionism, I’ve found some tricks in daily life. These help me push my boundaries and show my brain that not everything has to be perfect.
- Stop Procrastinating/Do a Little at a Time
I have struggled with procrastination a lot. What I learned when I finally faced it head on was that if I did little amounts of work at a time, I quelled my anxiety. The first time I tried this I was dumbfounded. I got one class done every day of the week. My weekends were suddenly free from homework. I got a separation between school and my personal life. Procrastination for me comes from a place of fearing that the end result won’t be good enough. The irony is, the sooner you try, the more time you have to edit and fix. Let me be clear, I am not suggesting you spend the whole week fixing your work! I’m simply saying, it’s okay if you’re not sure about it’s quality, turn it in anyway. I promise you, life won’t stop.
- Do Something Silly
I recently started working with my OCD therapist on having cringey moments. I know this sounds weird. When I’m put in a situation where I’m out of my comfort zone and on the spot, sometimes it feels like my brain shuts down. I then think about that moment for the rest of the day, and sometimes the rest of the week. The point of this exercise is to do things that are a little embarrassing. Getting embarrassed is a part of life. It’s something unavoidable. Learning to embrace it will only make you happier. This includes doing weird accents, dancing randomly, making silly faces, waiting too long at a stop light, etc.
- Don’t Double Check
This can be extremely distracting. When I hang a picture, write an email, send a text, or anything that could be even a little bit off, I double check my work. I feel this intense need to ensure that I didn’t mess something up. I have learned that doing this only feeds perfectionism. My OCD therapist talks about the overcorrection that my brain does. Yes, in normal life it’s great to double check things. For me, when I check once, I want to check again, and suddenly it never feels like enough. You have to go the other way with it. Sometimes it does lead to mistakes but even when there are mistakes, nothing bad happens.
These are broad strokes in how to confront perfectionism. By no means am I an expert. I am still on my own journey. I am also only speaking from experience and guidance I’ve received. I am not a mental health professional. If you are struggling with any form of mental illness, please reach out to a personal care provider. I hope that if you’re already on your journey to recovery that this article gives you some good ideas. Start to incorporate a little silliness into your life. I hope everyone is having a wonderful day!