Putting My Oxygen Mask on First – Perfectionism

My perfectionism (and my ego) is impacting my relationships. It prevents me from just BEING THERE and CREATING SPACE FOR MY PEEPS TO BE. It makes things about ME instead of them. Shouldn’t I have grown past the “world revolves around me” stage by now?

My son was recently in a program to address how his perfectionist tendencies have created anxiety that at times is crippling for him.

Interestingly enough, that’s making me hyper aware of my own perfectionist tendencies. I immediately jumped to how I failed as a parent, what did I do wrong that caused this for him? When I do that, I’m making it all about me instead of being present for what HE is going through.

I’m falling into the trap of thinking about what people think about me as a parent if my son isn’t doing as well in school as he is capable of or needs help managing his anxiety when I help other people with their anxiety. I am making it about me again – and giving weight to what other people think of me. As Don Miguel Ruiz states in the Four Agreements, “Don’t take anything personally.”. What other people think about me is none of my business, and is more about them than me. And, I HELP other people live with their anxiety – I don’t provide magical solutions either. Anxiety is a complex disorder, and only the ego could believe there is ONE simple answer/action that will “FIX” it – and only the ego would even presume to know that it needs “fixing” in the first place.

When I start feeling insecure working with other experts, I want to share my expertise/knowledge to prove my value and worthiness. But when I do that, I’m not LISTENING.  I’m missing opportunities to learn and connect.

When I’m in full blown perfectionism as a parent, I NITPICK. And nitpicking has only been a helpful skill ONCE – when I literally was nitpicking (my daughter had lice). Any other time, it creates distance and prevents being able to connect and find ways together to resolve issues and concerns.

Finally, as a good perfectionist, I’m also hard on myself for all of the things above. I am ashamed – instead of being compassionate and recognizing they’re normal reactions. It could be much worse right? I could have committed fraud to get my kids into colleges they aren’t even really interested in attending.

My therapist and I talked about when I first identified with being a perfectionist. We unpacked how at that time, I also started suppressing the creative, fun loving side of myself. She reminded me of all the ways my “perfectionism” has positively impacted my life, and suggested that instead of resisting it, that I focus on giving my creative, fun loving child more opportunities to play and make a mess. She reminds me that when I notice my perfectionism I can chuckle, and say “there you are again. I know you want to help, but we got this.” Any tips from other recovering perfectionists?

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