The book I am reading is called “Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy” by David D. Burns, M.D. I chose this one from a book list from my doctor to help me deal with chronic pain, anxiety and depression. The book is amazing! I find golden nuggets of information in every chapter.
I wanted to share my thoughts about one chapter in particular with you. The chapter is called “Dare to be Average!– Ways to Overcome Perfectionism.”
I think I picked up my bad habits of perfectionism very early on in my life. I was always telling myself I “should” be doing something perfectly, and felt guilty if I failed.
But here is where the book hit me with logic that I couldn’t argue with:
*I can’t be perfect because I’m human.
*Humans will make mistakes.
*Mistakes are learning opportunities.
*Therefore, it’s acceptable to make mistakes, because humans aren’t perfect, and I’m human.
*I should actually expect to make mistakes… but that’s a good thing because then I can learn from them.
“Asserting your right to make mistakes will paradoxically make you a greater human being.”
“The choice is clear-cut: You can either try to be perfect and end up miserable, or you can aim to be human and imperfect and feel enhanced. Which do you choose?” (p. 377)
There are many methods listed in the book to overcome these tendencies. My favorites are paraphrased here:
*Focus on things you can control instead of being fixed on the outcome.
For example, this blog. I can write a draft, edit it, post it, and do my best. I can’t control whether people will like it or not, I can only control making the best post I can and being proud that I accomplished that!
*Set time limits on things you would like to do.
For example, cleaning my room is something I procrastinate on. But if I decide to clean my room for a good 20 minutes and then stop, even if I’m not done, then I can be proud of that accomplishment instead of just trying to clean to perfection!
*Lowering perfectionist standards, aka Expect to be Average (which is actually pretty great).
For example, I don’t have to be perfect at writing a perfect song all the time. I sing and play guitar and write music, and sometimes it’s hard to work on something new because I want it to be the BEST. But if I lower my standards, and just try to write something average, I could come out with something great. Or maybe it won’t be great. But at least I will have taken part in the creative process.
Pretty interesting stuff, huh? As someone who experiences a lot of migraines, I find it difficult to do the amazing things I dreamed about when I was younger. So I’m trying to learn to be okay with the little stuff in life. To let go of my negative thoughts and be proud of myself, even if it’s for doing small day-to-day activities. Because those little activities are actually a big deal! 🙂