This phrase was brought to my attention today during a conversation with the awesome Jessica and it really resonated with me, especially given a few things that have been going on in my life recently. Perfectionism can be one of the core influences with regards to OCD, driving compulsions and certain beliefs about ourselves. I’ve lost count of how many times OCD has trapped me in a cycle of mental and physical compulsions because I haven’t been able to complete them ‘right’. “If I don’t carry out my rituals perfectly, then surely something bad will happen?” Of course, this is entirely false, but we all know how manipulative and deceiving OCD can be so that rationality is thrown out the window. Although struggling with OCD can leave us more prone to perfectionistic tenancies, it’s very common for almost everyone to struggle with this to some extent. I’m sure we’ve all had a time when we’ve set ourselves unrealistically high expectations, usually with regards to school or work and then when we ultimately don’t meet these expectations, we end up being really tough and self-critical on ourselves.
I’m sure quite a few of you will relate, with regards to this negative and self-critical mindset becoming quite stuck and then you end up finding yourself dissatisfied by the majority of what you do in day to day life. It can also be hard to acknowledge compliments because all you see is negativity surrounding yourself and so you ultimately block out others’ viewpoints. For each person, different environmental and cognitive factors can be the trigger for this mindset, but ultimately long term, this way of thinking can be seriously draining and really quite damaging. It can lead into a negative triad. That being a negative view of the world, the future and of the self. I know I can be quite prone to this mindset, not only with regards to OCD distorting the way I think but also just in general terms too. This has been one of the reasons why I’ve found it so hard to post recently, as nothing I write feels good enough. The amount of drafts I’ve accumulated over the past month is quite unsettling and I feel quite upset at myself that I can no longer post without harshly scrutinising everything I write.
This is why I really love the quote Jessica came up with.
“Goal for today: to live imperfectly”.
Sometimes we just need to give ourselves permission to live life imperfectly. No one is perfect. To set ourselves that standard is unrealistic and it will inevitably tare us down when we don’t achieve it. Your life occurs outside the realm of perfectionism. When we allow ourselves permission to not comply with the harsh standards we set, it should hopefully make us feel freer and happier within ourselves. We can honestly be our harshest critic. So maybe try to challenge how you think. For example, if you get turned down from a job application. Instead of instantly telling yourself how much of a failure you are and how you’ll never get another job opportunity again (this can actually fall into black and white/absolutist thinking too), try looking at the situation from another perspective. Of course, you can totally allow yourself to feel sad, blocking out emotions would not be a good thing, however, try thinking about the outcome in a different light. Not getting a job wasn’t the greatest of outcomes for sure, but there’s always next time. Not getting the job doesn’t make you any less of a person than you were before and people are not going to look at you in a more negative way either because of it. Maybe you were just having a bad day and that’s totally okay. Of course, I understand that in theory, this is a lot easier than when you are actually in the situation and struggling with negative thoughts yourself. However, I hope that this may help even just a little?
This strategy of challenging thoughts will most probably be quite familiar to those of you who have been in therapy, specifically CBT as the core aim of this type of therapy is to help identify, challenge and alter faulty beliefs. If anything, I truly hope this post has offered even a little bit of alleviation from the tough time we give ourselves. Even if just for a few seconds you can think, “yeah, I’m pretty awesome“, then I’ll be made up. Actually…before I sign off, do one thing for me. Right now, say something nice about yourself. Just one thing. Had a bad day? That’s okay, congratulate yourself for getting through the day.
Have you said something yet? Yay! If not, I’ll say something for you.
You are unique, amazing and 100% deserve life.
Hope you’re all well and speak soon. 🙂