Your "Perfectionism" Makes My Eyes Roll

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Let’s talk about perfectionism.

I go insane when people say they’re perfectionists, because in most cases, they aren't using the term correctly*, which makes my left eye twitch spasmodically.

There's nothing worse in life than for some skinny, young PTA mom, freshly scrubbed and dressed up like a show pig, to harp, “Ugh, I feel like I’m just too good at yoga.” 

Or, “Sheesh, I’m such a perfectionist when it comes to housekeeping. It drives me bananas when my sofa cushions aren’t just so.”

Or, “I try to do just 50 burpees, but I can’t help myself from doing 75. I’m a perfectionist!” 🙄

No, no, no. That is not what perfectionism means.

Hearing this type of b.s. makes me do a hard eye roll and think, "Oh calm down, Martha, you're gonna be fine."

Perfectionism doesn’t mean that you can’t help yourself from raising your own bar, or that you’re just super detail-oriented or have a very high standard.

It’s so much more serious than this.

Here’s how to know the difference: if your “perfectionism” is causing positive outcomes or moving you toward a goal, then you are not a perfectionist and I want you to stop saying it right the eff now.

If you’re unable to lift even one tiny baby pinky finger because you’ve set your standard so high that it’s impossible to reach, then you might be suffering from perfectionism.

If your perfectionism is hindering your quality of life - holding you back from functioning in your daily life - then you are suffering from perfectionism.

Perfectionism isn’t a positive thing. It’s detrimental. In fact, it can be crippling.

It causes procrastination, a sense of failure - even depression. 

It’s a fear of not being able to complete a task in a highly specific manner - a fear so deep, that you don’t even attempt the task.

You give up before you even start.

Having a high standard for yourself in a specific area - maybe as a fitness coach or a cookie decorator - and being able to pull those off, is not being a perfectionist.

That’s being someone who is able to work their ass off to meet their own very high standard and achieve it. Or at least come damn close.

A fitness coach with perfectionist issues would mind-screw themselves over their inability to help someone lose weight or lift their personal record (“pr” for those in the fitness world, of which I do not belong 🤷‍), so they put a wall in front of themselves and instead of getting started in helping that person lose even some of the weight toward their ultimate goal, they don’t even try to help them.

They tell themselves they can’t do it.

Except they don’t even know they’re telling themselves this. Instead, they come up with some cockamamey excuse that gets them out of helping that person. It’s almost always subliminal.

Anyway - this is just one of the terms people use incorrectly that makes me insane. Another one is “migraine.”  I’ll write about that one in a future post.

Until then, set that bar real high and reach up there and grab it, you tiger, you!

*You know what? I don't get worked up by a lot of things. I'm pretty - no, very - laid back. But I do get worked into a big, thick lather over the misuse of words. Mrs. Lillard, my 10th grade English teacher drilled a lot of very important things into me (one is that "you all look like a bunch of cows chewin' on grass, the way you're chompin' on your chewin' gum") and the proper use of words is one of them.