Perfectionist vs. Optimalist
Are you Overly Critical of Yourself (aka: a Perfectionist)?
Do you engage in negative self-talk, often putting yourself down for the smallest of mistakes? Are you often dissatisfied with your performance at work? Do you feel overwhelmed by the challenges of everyday life? Perhaps negative thinking or perfectionism has caused you a great deal of anxiety and sadness.
Have the pressures of your life created tension in your relationships with your loved ones, causing you to be irritated with them when yo’d like to be kinder or more supportive? Do you wish you could find relief from overwhelming thoughts and live a peaceful and meaningful life? It’s possible that you engage in addictive behaviors as a way to cope with negative thoughts and emotions, such as working too much, shopping excessively, drinking too much, or obsessing over your body image. If any of this resonates with you, you may not be aware of the heavy burdening you are carrying, even though you are aware of the distress it causes.
The Pain and Damage of Perfectionism
Underneath dissatisfaction, stress, anxiety and depression often lies a critical and harsh voice. While this voice may have manifested during your childhood or teen years, it now lives inside of you. Throughout your day, you may find it difficult to escape negative thoughts about yourself. At work, you may believe that you must continue to work harder to live up to high expectations or get recognition. Family members or friends may view you as emotionally distant because most of your time and energy is focused on other aspects of your life. At the end of the day, no matter how hard you work, you may often feel like you are not good enough.
The good news is that therapy can lead to healthier choices and to greater well-being, understanding, compassion and inner peace – leading you to feel energized and setting you up for success.
Striving for Perfection is Common in our Culture
The truth is, people can be notoriously hard on themselves. Making matters more challenging, the demands of our culture today often cause individuals to feel overwhelmed and under-appreciated. For many women (and some men too!), a people-pleasing nature can cause feelings of guilt and shame when they don’t “perform” up to their own or others’ expectations. For men (and some women too!), the pressure to be successful, independent and emotionally available can feel exhausting, relentless and extremely frustrating. Men tend to carry their burden more stoically, often denying to their loved ones and themselves that they are feeling stressed, worried or depressed.
For both men and women, the combination of external pressure and an internal critical voice causes both emotional and physical distress. Not surprisingly, this kind of pressure can quickly lead to feelings of anxiety and depression as well as conflict and dissatisfaction with loved ones who just don’t seem to understand.
Perfectionism and Addiction
You may notice that you have been engaging in addictive behaviors as a way to avoid the powerful emotions brewing just under the surface of your mind. Examples of these behaviors include: staying busy, working nonstop, shopping, obsessively exercising and worrying about your body image. Drinking or using medications or drugs to calm oneself and/or to escape painful feelings can also result. Often, these are ways people distract themselves from feeling emotional distress. Unfortunately, these behaviors only provide temporary relief and often lead to greater pain.
Transformation: from Perfectionist to “Optimalist”
In our work together, you and I will look to uncover your hidden (or not so hidden) issues with self-loathing or low self-worth. Then, we explore ways to relieve you of these negative thoughts and emotions in order to find more lasting inner peace and fulfillment.
Our sessions will aim to help you get “unstuck” – to feel better about yourself, cut yourself some needed slack (without losing your initiative), and to understand what it is you want and need in life. We will focus on eliminating the guilt, denial or avoidance that is plaguing you and blocking you from finding solutions to your problems and resolving conflicts. As a result, you may feel the worry and sadness you experience lift away, providing much needed relief.
When you address the core struggle of constantly seeking perfection, you set the stage for a better relationship with yourself and with your friends and loved ones. You may find that you can then be present with your loved ones in a more joyful way, without compromising your own needs and desires.
During our sessions, we will look toward appreciating the benefits of relief from “perfect,” and toward the idea of goodness: We will consider how perfect is the enemy of goodness. You will have the chance to put your strong motivations (a silver lining in perfectionism) to good use and become an optimalist, rather than a perfectionist.
Find Peace of Mind and Fulfillment
If you are ready to begin a challenging and rewarding journey of self-healing and discovery, I invite you to contact me for more information about how therapy can help you.