Tag Archives: personal growth

The loneliness of being a perfectionist

It is hard to be perfect. In fact, it is impossible for everything we do to turn out exactly the way we want it to. It is impossible for everything to be perfect, leading to an immense and overwhelming sense of pressure for a perfectionist.

Being a perfectionist means always striving to be the best at everything. To be on the top, at the pinnacle, and it is a very lonely place to be. There are many different kinds and combinations of perfectionists with two of the big ones being: overt and covert. 

Overt vs. Covert

The overt perfectionist has a strong want for order around them at all times. They have anxiety when things get chaotic and tend to want to always be “right.” The overt perfectionist fears failure and therefore won’t try things they might not be good at. They want to do everything they can to not lose control and believe abilities are pre-determined and not able to be developed. (SOURCE: huffingtonpost.com; Smith, A.W. (2013). Overcoming Perfectionism. Deerfield Beach, FL: Health Communications, Inc.)

The covert perfectionist often hides their perfection actions and thoughts. They have low expectations of those around them and act as if they want to be average or carefree but secretly want to the be the best. The covert perfectionist may choose to underachieve to avoid the pressure or competition with those that might be better at something. (Smith, 2013)

Regardless if you are a covert, overt, or a combination of both, the inner struggle of a perfectionist can be overwhelming. And, it is made even more difficult by the fact that those around us often find it hard to relate. Our peers have difficulty empathizing and understanding the frustration, the NEED to be the best. 

The perfectionist is often told to “get over it,” “no one is perfect,” “try harder next time,” or “it is not a big deal.” The result often leads to more mental stress, to depression, anxiety, and difficulty maintaining relationships. Our society views perfectionism as a positive quality. It leads to success in business and life, but there is a happy medium. There has to be a way to try hard, to work hard, but to also accept and let go when things don’t go as planned. When we study and study and study for the test and there are questions we still are not ready for, we need to accept we tried our very best and maybe next time we will take a different approach. 

If you are one of those people who consistently struggle with the urge to be perfect and to be on top, then it can be helpful to receive help from a mental health professional. Talk to someone who can not only understand why you feel the way you do but to help you with skills to curb these feelings and help you to live a healthier, happier life. Frequently clients also find it helpful to be in support groups, to find people who do know how to empathize with your feelings, to help you know you are not alone. 

Is Broken Bad?

Everyone feels “broken” at some point on their journey through life. It is that unbearable pain, that adversity, feelings of hopelessness, and despair that shapes us. These experiences teach us about who we are, and they help us grow as people. 

As hard as it is when you are in the thick of suffering, as a counselor I don’t see being “broken” as being a bad thing. The only real way to live a full, happy, evolving life is to overcome the challenges thrown our way. Think of a seed—a broken seed sprouts and germinates generating new roots. 

It is easy when caught up in a moment of despair to avoid life—to go forward with feelings of regret, pain, disillusionment, and sadness. Rather than living in fear of those “broken” moments, I encourage you to embrace them—to focus on the positive, the future, and persevere. 

What do you do if you feel broken inside?

Here are a few tips to help you when you are feeling broken inside:

1.) Remind yourself change is inevitable. We cannot avoid change, it is part of life. Rather than fight it—accept it.

2.)Embrace the power of choice—you have the choice to control your thoughts. As hard as it may seem to shape what we do and how we feel, you can make the decision to live your life. To choose to search for the positive. To continue to get up and get dressed and get going during those moments of despair. You do you. 

3.)Ask for help if you need it. Life is hard, and you aren’t expected to know all the answers. Sometimes it takes a conversation, a new perspective to help lift us up and pull us out of the holes we sometimes fall into—and that is ok. Make an appointment for therapy, call a friend or a relative. It is ok to not be ok. 

4.)Be in the moment. Mother Teresa said “Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.” We don’t know what tomorrow has in store, and there is no point in wasting time regretting things of the past. You are here today—so be here. 

5.) Focus on the things in life that bring you joy. Those things will help to bring you out of your place of pain. Whether it be exercise, cooking, spending time with family—do the things that bring a sense of happiness to your being.

6.) Find hope. Tomorrow is a new day, and anything can happen. You will get through this moment and you will find happiness again. 

No one can predict the future. There will most likely be more times you feel “broken” but those times will only continue to help you grow, to learn more about yourself, and be the best version of you.