If you’re going on a journey, it helps to know where you’re starting from.
I purposefully didn’t blog last week because I deliberately wanted to fail to meet my self-imposed target of a weekly post.
Rob Waller, one of the authors of The Perfectionism Book, uses the analogy of a performer spinning plates to describe the life of a perfectionist. Over recent years, I have certainly felt like a plate-spinner, juggling roles and responsibilities, such as being a mum, a wife and friend, work, volunteering for a local charity, leading a small group at church and keeping the house clean and tidy.
I often felt I was failing and could never be satisfied with my ‘performance’ – there was always something, somewhere I could be doing better. I now recognise this as perfectionism. The Perfectionism Book asks the reader if they can remove any plates or if this isn’t possible to ‘take some of the wobble out of the ones that remain’.
By failing to meet a target, I’m learning to keep my plates manageable – taking some of the wobble out.
The lack of affirmation was the hardest thing about not writing last week. Simon Sinek says: ‘Engagement with social media and our cell phones releases a chemical called dopamine. That’s why when you get a text, it feels good. That’s why we count the likes, because you know when you get it, you get a hit of dopamine which feels good.
‘Dopamine is the exact same chemical that makes us feel good when we smoke, when we drink, in other words it’s highly, highly addictive.‘
Facebook likes and the blog stats feed my need for praise but I don’t want to be addicted to social media dopamine hits.
Graham Taylor, ex-football manager of Watford FC, my local club, passed away recently. I love this quote of his, included in an obituary:
‘In this job you get nice things said about you and bad things said about you. The trick is not to spend any longer thinking about one than the other. In the end they are both bollocks.‘
I don’t want my self-esteem to be based on others’ opinions, Facebook likes or even my own achievements and successes.
Seeing how ingrained my perfectionism is made me feel downhearted and despondent. Not only do I have high expectations of myself but I also think others – family members, friends, colleagues, strangers (what will people think if I…) – have similar expectations of me. My internal monologue says: ‘I need to be perfect in order to be loved‘. This is the key lie I have been believing. I must be perfect, not making any mistakes – not even a minuscule error, mustn’t say the wrong thing, do the wrong thing or reveal my weaknesses – because then there will be no appreciation, affirmation or love. Without perfection, I am worthless.
This monologue needs rewriting.
There’s a long way to go but I am taking steps forward.