Saturday, February 7, 2009

My perfectionist scaffolding

I am a perfectionist.

I'm not proud of this, as perfectionism is a basis for a lot (most?) of the anxiety in my life. Being a perfectionist is exhausting, and I never feel fulfilled.

Well, enough of that! Seeing the world through perfectionist spectacles leads to unhappiness and chronic negativity, as nothing is ever perfect enough.

This past week I've been trying to dial down my perfectionist tendencies. It's not easy, as they are so ingrained in my personality and a big part of my anxiety disorder. So I'm using the "shrug my shoulders" technique.

For example, say I'm upset because I painted a room with semigloss paint instead of flat (long story :). I shrug my shoulders and say, "Oh well. It's good enough," moving on to something else. Of course, one side of my brain is screaming and demanding more analysis, evaluation, and remedying action, but I'm starting to listen to a quieter voice (that's been there all along) saying, "You know what? It's OK. You're OK. It's time to move on."

Perfectionism is the scaffolding holding up my anxiety framework. Once I remove enough bolts the whole complex will come crashing down and the real, authentic, recovered, anxiety-free me will be standing tall.


Blogger with Ocd said...

Neat metaphor!

Blogger with Ocd said...

Oh, just saw your twitter post...

I often use that "This will never even happen, and in years from now I'll see that it's true and be mad at myself for wasting so much time" reasoning with my OCD. It's a good weapon sometimes, when I'm strong enough to use it.

Madison Rose said...

Hmm, that's interesting. I too am a perfectionist, and feel that the world is going to end if I make the slightest mistake at work, or in anything I do. I had to find a way to work round it when I was writing essays for school - my perfectionism just paralysed me - if I couln't write a perfect sentence, I wouldn't write anything!I had to force myself to write an ok sentence, and go on to the next one.

I'm not sure I want to get rid of my perfectionism entirely, I just want more of a sense of perspective.

I like your last paragraph though - it's a good image :)

WesleyG said...

Having OCD for so long has made me a perfectionist is certain areas of my life. This is probably due to the rituals I had to go through just to finish mundane activities, but nevertheless.

I know how you feel when that voice appears. It's as if everything else in the world stops and it's just you and some inane thought.

bbrodriguez said...

Hi there, I just discovered your blog and added it to my blogroll. I hope that's ok.

I think the technique you are using is great. I myself have used a similar kind of thing with attitudinal statements like 'it's good enough', 'no need to worry', or 'everyone makes mistakes'. But it is important to always find something new to distract yourself with so the thoughts don't come back and nag you.

Rachael said...

I'm also a perfectionist and your right, its exhuasting. I'm obsessive about things being tidy and sometimes i feel like i spend my whole life cleaning!
I wish i could just forget about it and except its tidy enough, its so silly.


Anonymous said...

TOTALLY. I'm actually a messy perfectionist. Can't do something unless I can devote total perfection to it. When I do, and I fail to be perfect, I become miserable. In a world that demands 15 tasks every day, I can't just devote all my time and meticulousness to just 3 and do them perfectly. So it's easy to give up on a lot of things. Exhaustion? Tell me about it.

I'm hitting a shrink and it's really been helping, though. The panic attacks have stopped. Soldier on, y'all!

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