I'm a recovering perfectionist and my desire for things to be "just right" would drive me (and everyone around me) crazy. Growing up, l forced my parents to drill me with spelling words after I already knew them cold. I was terrified of getting one wrong.
Something surprising happened a few weeks into fourth grade - I misspelled my first word. When I held the test in my hands I was shocked. How could I have missed one?! But instead of feeling upset, I vividly remember tension melting away from my shoulders as I realized I no longer had to be perfect.
Sure I'm not stressed about spelling tests these days, but sometimes perfectionism can creep up in other areas. Maybe we stop ourselves from bringing an idea to a boss or moving forward with something out of our comfort zone. Maybe we don't say something to a friend or significant other out of fear they'll judge or disagree.
The fear of not being perfect can run deep. Just last week I received less than stellar feedback on something and I may have shed a tear or two (hey, I'm sensitive!).
My instinct was to curl up in a ball and not move forward. "If I can't be perfect, I don't even want to try!" I said to myself. I have compassion for the part of me that has that initial thought, but those sort of statements keep us stuck.
Whenever you notice a thought creep in like, "I should've done better," repeat the following: "I tried my best. I'm human. I don't have to be perfect." You can even place one hand on your chest to reinforce the message.
You can also remember a time you thought you "royally" messed up - maybe it was a botched presentation, forgetting something at work or sending a wrong email. In the moment, you might have thought it was the worst thing that could happen. Looking back, you probably won't think the instance was THAT big of a deal. Perspective and time can be incredibly healing.
Ultimately, we're all connected by our hopes, desires and fears. Whatever pain or frustration you've experienced, it's likely someone has felt the same. Your co-worker, friend, partner or boss have probably all at one point questioned themselves. We can reframe our mistakes and missteps as an opportunity to connect with everyone else.
That's the beauty in being human.
What do you do when you're afraid of failing, messing up or not being perfect? Any tips for getting over your fears? Share your wisdom in the comments below!