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Saturday, 22 December 2012

3 Common Obstacles

3 Common Obstacles That Keep People Stuck in Perfectionism, and How to Overcome Them


Image by Mike Bailey-Gates (license).
“Certain flaws are necessary for the whole. It would seem strange if old friends lacked certain quirks.”
Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
“People throw away what they could have by insisting on perfection, which they cannot have, and looking for it where they will never find it.”
Edith Schaeffer
One of the most common and destructive thought habits but also one that is often celebrated in some form in society is perfectionism.
I have had many battles with it. Many of you have emailed me about it throughout the years.
Perfectionism can be very destructive. It can drain one’s self-esteem and become so overwhelming that it gets you stuck. And so little action is taken and few things are ever finished.
So what can you do about it? How can you replace it and minimize it in your life?
In this article I’ll share three obstacles I have faced, how I have overcome them and how that has helped me to raise my own self-esteem and minimize the perfectionism.
Just going along with the perfectionism and not seeing the full extent of it.
If you just move along in the same old rut and don’t question the perfectionism and what it is doing to you then it will likely stay with you.
And that goes for any negative habit. You have to see it from a broader perspective. You have to see and feel what the real negative impact of it has been and will be to be able to change.
This often happens naturally at some point in people’s lives when they have had enough or a crisis hits and making a change becomes inevitable.
But you can get a broader view and wake-up call today if you like too.
Here’s what you do. Ask yourself:
  • How will my life look in 5 years if I continue to stay on the same perfectionist path as now?
  • How will life likely become worse for me and maybe even for the people around me?
It may be uncomfortable but try to see the negative consequences as vividly as you can in your mind to kickstart your motivation to get going for that positive change.
Try to not just to see the future as detailed and as vividly as you can but also to find your very personal reason(s) for making the change.
For example, minimizing the perfectionism will help you to improve your self-esteem. That is great. But to really find the heart of your motivation keep looking for a few more minutes for the more personal answer.
That answer could be that by finally getting a handle on the perfectionism your current or future relationship with a partner could become more relaxed and happy. Or maybe you want to make this change to not have to fear that you’ll transfer an unhealthy and self-esteem damaging habit to your daughter or son.
The habit of comparing yourself to other people.
When you compare yourself to someone else then you may feel good for a while. You are in better shape, have a nicer car or house or a better social life than someone else.
But if you do that comparison often then it becomes very hard to not start to compare yourself almost automatically in a negative way too. You may discover that someone at work else has an even cooler car than you. That the neighbor’s new boyfriend is in even better shape than you. That someone else makes more money than you.
And now you don’t feel so good anymore. And since there is always someone that is better than you at most things in the world this becomes a habit that may make you feel inferior no matter how well you do.
What you can do instead is to compare yourself to yourself. It won’t work every time but little by little – if you remind yourself of the benefits of doing this – you can replace the old habit.
When you feel the need to compare yourself and your progress to other people and their progress in some way then remind yourself of how it will hurt your self-esteem in the long run. And then take a minute or two to compare yourself to yourself instead. See how far you have come.
Appreciate the effort you have put in and be inspired by the small and bigger things you have accomplished so far.
An environment of inhuman standards.
Emotions are contagious. So is perfectionism.
So one of the smartest and most effective things you can do is to shape your environment to lessen the influence of perfectionism.
Take small steps and rearrange your world so that it becomes more and more supportive of you and of human standards rather than perfect standards.
Reduce the perfectionism in your world by reducing or cutting out the media sources that every week try to reinforce it in you. Read magazines, blogs, books and watch TV-shows and movies with kinder and more realistic expectations that resonate with you.
Spend less time with nervously perfectionist people. And spend more time with people who are trying to improve themselves and/or are living a good life in a positive, healthy and relaxed way.

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It’s Good to Be a Kid

It’s Good to Be a Kid

It’s never too late to have a happy childhood. When you watch children playing, notice how totally involved they are in what they’re doing, how they run everywhere they go. Notice how they are oblivious to future problems almost as if they have given themselves permission to be free and they show it by becoming totally absorbed in their play. To be more childlike, you don’t have to give up being an adult. The fully integrated person is capable of being both an adult and a child simultaneously. Recapture the childlike feelings of wide-eyed excitement, spontaneous appreciation, cutting loose, and being full of awe and wonder at this magnificent universe.
Here’s what kids know how to do best:

The child in you, like all children, loves to laugh, to be around people who can laugh at themselves and life. Children instinctively know that the more laughter we have in our lives, the better. They will go out of their way to linger with anyone who makes them laugh, who can go along with their jokes.

Keep Fantasy Alive
Children love to dream, to make up stories, use their imaginations—and so would you if you’d let yourself. Remember how you loved to draw, make up verses, or songs, hear stories, make up your own games, wander aimlessly into your fantasy excursions with anyone who was willing to listen or participate? That rich fantasy life was not only great fun but also one of the healthiest aspects of your life as a whole. All of life’s best realities start with “childlike” fantasies.

Be Spontaneous
Notice how children are willing to try anything on a moment’s notice. The child inside you wants to be impulsive and adventuresome, without always having to plan things in advance. Spontaneity is in many ways the key to all childlike behavior. That ability to stop suddenly by the roadside when something interesting catches your eye leads directly to childlike immediacy and “wonder in the face of the world.”

Accept the World as It Is (Be Trusting)
When the infant comes into the world, it has no thought that the world can or should be any different from what it is. The infant just opens its eyes in wonder and fascination at what is out there and makes its way in that world as best it can. The child inside of you knows how to take things as they come, how to deal most effectively and happily with everything and everyone it encounters on this planet. If you can recapture that childlike essence of your being you can stay “forever young at heart.”
These glorious childlike qualities that can help you enjoy your life each and every day are no further from you than your fingers are from your hands. They are an inalienable part of you. If you really love that child within you, and really care to be a child again in the ways I’m talking about, you cannot help but be at peace with yourself.
When you have inner peace, you can do just about anything. Give yourself more of that childlike inner peace today, by letting yourself be that spontaneous, in-the-moment, fun-loving child again. Or, as Friedrich Schiller put it, “Keep true to the dreams of thy youth.”