How to Tell if You’re a Perfectionist & How to Manage Perfectionism

January 11, 2022

I’m Cason!
And I'm so glad you're here. My prayer is that these words give you hope in the everyday so that you can experience God's fullness in
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Hey friend! Today’s episode may step on your toes a little (like it did mine). If you’re a perfectionist, like me, you know that the struggle is real sometimes. We just want for things to be, well, perfect. Is that too much to ask? This episode will help you figure out whether or not you struggle with perfectionism and also give you some ways to manage your perfectionist tendencies. It’s a good one, mama, so grab your headphones and coffee (or tea!) and let’s get started!

***Take a screenshot as you listen and tag me in an Instagram story: @heyitscason***

>>>If you enjoyed this episode and found it helpful, please rate and review the podcast! It helps more mamas find messages of hope and encouragement just like this one. As always, I appreciate your support and help spreading this message!<<<

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Hey friends. Welcome back to another episode of the podcast. I’m so glad that you are here. Okay. If you are listening to this, you and I have something in common, we are perfectionists. Or maybe you’re just here, like checking it out, saying, “what is this whole perfectionism thing about?”

I’m going to share some themes, some ways that you can identify whether or not you are perfectionist. Maybe you, like me, didn’t even realize or recognize in your life, your perfectionist tendencies. That’s okay. Sometimes it’s harder for some of us to recognize, but today I hope that this episode helps you to start to identify ways in your life that you can deal with this perfectionism.

And really give you some practical tips, some practical help that you can implement into your life. Like I said, if you would’ve asked me a couple years back if I struggled with perfectionism, I would have looked at you like you were crazy because I didn’t really recognize it in my own life. But the more that I’ve kind of looked into it and seen, I’ve figured out and learned what it’s all about.

I’m like, “this is totally me.” So let’s just dive right in. The definition of a perfectionist is refusal to accept any standard short of perfection. And the definition literally made me laugh out loud because of course the definition would even be short, and straight to the point, and almost like this perfectionist definition, “refusal to accept any standard, short of perfection.”

Like it just sounds like something a perfectionist would say. So I set out to outline this episode and kind of pour out all of my knowledge and things that I think about perfection and my experience. And then I did a little research, you know, on Google, the great world of Google. And I found so much information that I was like, “this is so good.

I’m using this what I have found, because you know what? I don’t have to know it all. There is a whole worldwide web that has all the things that you could ever want to know.” So I’m going to be resharing some of these things that I found, because it is perfect. Ha, no pun intended! But I will link to all these articles that I’ve found so that you can go click around and read for yourself.

But did you know that studies have found that perfectionists tend to not take risks? And also like, we have a hard time tapping into creativity. So I would not consider myself to be an obviously creative person. Like from the outside looking in, and, and also for me to actually get creative, it kind of is not, I’m not comfortable there because I don’t really want to mess up.

I don’t want, like, to do it messy. And for perfectionists, you know, we live all or nothing. Like we want to do something and we want it to be perfect and right, the first time. This tends to kind of be a first child quality, but I’m sure like I’m the first one. I’m the first daughter.

I’m the only daughter, but I’m the oldest. I’m the first child and this definitely fits into my personality. I’m sure this fits in with other, you know, second borns, third borns, wherever it is, you fall in line. But having a hard time being creative and also living life as all or nothing. That is me. So if that is you too, you’re in the right place.

I’m going to share some things with you today that are going to be helpful. You can identify whether or not you’re struggling with perfectionism. You know, sometimes we just feel like we’re constantly struggling. Like we are always striving for, you know, high performing and high achieving. And when we don’t meet that standard, we can be super self-critical and make us feel like a failure all the time.

So I want you to understand this more and then we’re going to talk about what we can kind of do to manage perfectionism in our lives. Like how can we make peace with it? How can we manage it? How can we live with it? Psychologists agreed that there are many positive and negative aspects.

So it’s not all negative. There are some positive things about this perfectionist mentality. But it does drive us to want to achieve unattainable desires or set unrealistic goals, which can lead to low self-esteem or being very self-critical, even depression and anxiety, because there’s this gap of how we show up in our reality and what we want and what we expect.

And the, the gap there is what causes that, the unmet expectation causes that disappointment. And it can even cause depression and anxiety. I know I’ve seen this in my own life, so maybe you can kind of connect some of these dots and say, oh my goodness, like I’m seeing this for the first time. And that makes so much sense because I’ve always had these unattainable ideals and these unrealistic goals, and I want to do it perfectly.

And when I can’t meet the expectation, which is perfection, which is not attainable, then the gap is like… It leads to this overwhelm and we just want to strive harder and strive for more. And I’ll quote, one of these articles, which says “perfectionist strain compulsively and unceasingly toward unobtainable goals.”

And we tend to measure our worth by productivity and accomplishing things. And we often pressure ourselves to achieve unrealistic goals and this just sets you up for disappointment. Like I’ve talked about this before in the past. And once I realized this in myself and noticed this pattern, I can understand why I feel disappointed all of the time, because I’m not meeting the standards in my own mind.

And we are so critical of ourselves, especially whenever we fail to meet these standards. Okay. If you haven’t had a light bulb moment yet, if you haven’t said, “that’s definitely me.” Listen to these following statements and tell me if you resonate with any of them. If you do, then you are likely a perfectionist.

So number one, you believe: “I must be perfect or I will be rejected, or not approved. I won’t be liked if I’m not perfect.” So we tend to be performance-based in everything we do. And we believe that it affects how people accept us and how people see us, how they view us, whether or not they’re going to like us, whether or not they’re gonna approve of us.

And the approval of others is huge for perfectionist. And like I said, when you start to connect all these dots, it’s just like a light bulb is going to go off and you’re going to be like,” oh my goodness. That is me.” Number two, if you make a mistake, it’s the end of the world.

I would literally cry and have a breakdown if something didn’t go perfectly or it didn’t turn out exactly how I wanted it to. The article goes on to say, “you exaggerate the importance and the impact of the mistakes that you make.” And we literally think that we won’t survive if we make these mistakes. Like it actually literally feels like the end of the world.

Okay. Number three, you could be a perfectionist if you often procrastinate. Hello again, this is me. Procrastination is often linked to perfectionism. I’m reading from the article here. “Not only must the task at hand be done perfectly. Otherwise the perfectionist will feel like a failure, but also the conditions must be ideal in advance before action is taken.”

We like to have all our ducks in a row, which is actually impossible. So we delay taking action, waiting for the ideal conditions or circumstances, and we tend to over plan. So it’s like, all these things are tied together because we don’t want to make a mistake. We want it to be perfect.

And we procrastinate because of that, because we don’t want to take action. Number four, you believe the “If-Then” proposition… If you can only perform perfectly or be perfect, then you will truly be successful or happy or at peace or whatever it is. So we believe “if” this happens, “then” this will be true. Is any of this resonating? Number five: “There’s only one perfect way to do or accomplish things.”

There’s only one way. Like there’s only one right way and everything else is wrong or everything else is a failure. So we only believe there’s one measure of success and it’s 100%. It is perfect. It’s perfection. Hello, duh. Number six: “You’ve always been eager to please.” Now I’ve shared in past episodes that I’m not really a people pleaser.

But I kind of am in some ways. And it’s kind of weird, I guess, how it plays out for me. And I know that it’s different for everybody. But the article states, “perfectionism often starts in childhood” because we want to, you know, do all these things and be all these things. And parents and teachers encourage children to become high achievers and we earn gold stars and we earn the trophies and the “well done’s” and the one hundreds and the big marks.

And we learn early to live by, you know, our achievements. That being the measure of who we are and the article states that, “this reach of perfection can be painful because it’s often driven by both a desire to do well and a fear of the consequences of not doing well.” So it’s like, we want to do well. And then there’s this fear of what happens if we don’t, like, what would actually happen?

What would be the consequence? If we were to be considered a failure, if we didn’t live up to this standard of perfection that we have in our minds? Let’s move on down the list. So, you know, your drive to perfection is hurting you, but you consider it to be the price that you pay. Like, this is just how we gain success.

Because we go to great lengths to avoid just being average. And we have this “no pain, no gain” mentality, and we pursue greatness. And at the cost of anything, of everything. This, there is no truer statement that I’ve read in a long time “The great irony of perfectionism is that while it’s characterized by an intense drive to succeed, it can be the very thing that prevents success.”

Oh, my goodness. Like I realize now that the reason that I didn’t take action in my life is because I was just waiting for the ideal time. I was waiting for the perfect time to be able to do it perfectly. And if I couldn’t do it perfect, then I wasn’t going to start. I wasn’t going to do it.
And that’s why I harp on this almost every single episode and tell you, and encourage you to start where you are and with what you can, because if you’re waiting for perfect… If you’re waiting for ideal conditions, that’s more than likely not going to happen. So sometimes we just have to take messy action. Sometimes we just have to do it.

Okay. So let’s continue down this list of “You may be a perfectionist, if…” So, number eight: “You’re highly critical of others.” I have found myself in this position. I can be super judgmental. And, it is, the article says it can be a defense mechanism because we reject in others what we can’t accept in ourselves. Oh, that stings a little bit.

And so we are constantly looking for what is wrong. And often in other people, whether or not it’s within someone else or within the situation, our own situation, our own lives. We’re just highly critical and we’re so judgmental. Okay. Number nine: “go big or go home.” You struggle with the black and white thinking.

Hello, this is me again. You’re a success one moment and a failure the next, based on your latest accomplishment or failure. We do things to extremes. Okay. The article says if you have perfectionist tendencies, you’ll probably only throw yourself into a new project or task, if you know, there’s a good chance you can succeed.

And if there is a risk of failure, you will likely avoid it all together. Hello? Is this pushing anybody’s buttons. Am I stepping on anybody’s toes? Cause I’m stepping on my own toes. Okay. So the all or nothing, go big or go home. A few more things that I want to share from this list.

We have our time opening up to other people because I mean, perfectionism hinders us from truly connecting with other people because of this fear of being seen as a failure or rejection. We have a hard time being vulnerable at times. So for me, I tend to seem closed off. I am closed off. I don’t always open up myself to other people around me. I have a very close small circle.

And I think that I can be just based on your personality, but also perfectionism comes into play here. A few more things… So you’re never quite there yet because of course, perfectionism and perfection is an impossible pursuit. Perfectionists tend to have this feeling that you’re not quite there yet, that we never really reach the goal.

Because we’re always striving and we’re always in pursuit of perfection. Obviously that doesn’t exist. We can’t ever reach that. So yeah, we’re all, we’re never going to be there. We’re never going to have feel like we’ve accomplished anything because we’re chasing something that doesn’t exist. Okay. And I said that was going to be the last thing.

This really is the last thing. “Having trouble making decisions.” You’re so worried about making the wrong decision that you failed to make a decision at all. Like we never will reach a conclusion and sometimes we rely on others to make the decision for us. And sometimes the decision is just made for us because we probably run out of time.

We don’t make a decision. Life just makes the decision. Okay. So if you found yourself resonating with any of these things and you’re like, “Cason, this is me. Yes, this is me. Okay. I get it. I’ve got it. I’m struggling with perfectionism. What can I do?” Okay. This is going to be easier said than done, but the first thing that we have to do is to let go of the self-criticism.

We have to learn to lower the bar to more meet up and resonate with reality. Like what can actually be framed as success? We have to reframe success and what that looks like in our life. And sometimes it requires us to lower the bar way, way down. And this is going to look different for everybody. But I would just challenge you to question, you know, success in your mind and for a certain event, or, you know, I’ve shared before, like baking with my girls is not my favorite thing in the world to do so.

Instead of it being and feeling like this Pinterest thing, or something out of a Hallmark movie, what’s a realistic idea of success when baking with a six and a three-year-old? So when I can think about it in that way, I can reframe success. I can, you know, set the end goal. I can set what success is, and when we can meet that, when reality can meet the expectation, I feel so much more successful.

Okay. The next thing you can do is find balance. Not doing it all and only doing what makes sense for your life and your current season. So instead of wanting to do it all and feeling like we have to do it all, just doing what you can with where you are. And I feel like I’ve kind of explained this, you know, over and over in every episode.

So just ask yourself, “what makes sense for me? What’s important to me right now? What are my priorities? What should they be? What matters to me?” And then doing those things, not feeling like you have to do it all. And then the last thing I would say is just reclaiming your sense of self-worth and not allowing your worth to be based on anything externally.

But allowing that self-worth to come from an internal place. As a Christian, you know, allowing the truth of who God says that you are to define your life in your words, because He doesn’t ask us to be perfectionists. He doesn’t ask us to be perfect. He actually requires the opposite of us. He just wants us to come as we are.

And obviously, as people, as humans, that is very imperfect. So reclaiming your self worth and allowing the truth of who you are in Christ and your identity in Him to be what you define your life by, and not these unrealistic expectations. Not these expectations of perfectionism. One last thing that I want to leave you with is this permission slip to yourself.

And maybe you get out a little piece of paper and write this down. I wrote something very similar to this back in January of 2021. And it just says, “Dear Cason.” So write your name because this is going to serve as a reminder to yourself, but I wrote, “Dear Cason, I give you permission to play and be messy.”

And as adults that’s often not comfortable for us, the word play and messy doesn’t even sound like something that we’re comfortable with doing. But the more that you do it and I, and I think that kids are a blessing and a gift in this way, because we get to see that again. We get to kind of connect with our childhood and see them being messy, and see them trying new things for the first time and just going for it.

They don’t tend to be perfectionists at a young age. And so I bet if you pay more attention to that this week and just really watched your kids, you would probably finding them being very messy, or doing things very messy. Even whenever they’re coloring or creating or whatever it is in somewhere along the way. We kind of close up to that.

We kind of retreat because we believe that if we don’t do it perfectly, or if we don’t believe, like I said earlier, that we can achieve and get the gold star, or the 100 or whatever it is, then we would be a failure. So we don’t even try. And so really giving yourself permission to just be messy, to just do things as you can.

Do what you can with what you have, and then reminding yourself that your best is good enough. Your best, with where you are right now, is good enough for what you’re trying to do. I truly hope that this episode was helpful for you. I hope it encouraged you. Maybe opened your eyes a little bit so that you can understand yourself more, be more self-aware, and in turn, show up more intentionally in your life for yourself and for your family.

So if you enjoyed this episode, would you please take a second to rate and review? It should take a minute or less. It truly does help more moms like you to hear messages like this and encourage them. So thank you for doing that. Thank you for being here. I appreciate your support.

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