Are Your Perfectionist Tendencies Holding You Back?

I want to talk to you in this blog post about perfectionism and how much it can hold you back… and how, as women, we are so hard on ourselves and because of this we can sometimes stop progressing forward and we can be our own worst enemy. 

And I am such a culprit. I have been such a culprit of perfectionism in the past and not even understanding or knowing that it was perfectionism that was holding me back. You see, that’s the thing with perfectionism, you sometimes don’t even know what it is. And I had a really outdated opinion of what I thought perfectionism was. I always thought perfectionism was somebody who was so into the detail of something and they didn’t finish it or hand it up until it was done.

That was what I thought perfectionism was, and it is a little bit, for some people, but because I thought that’s what it was, I never realised how much perfectionism was showing up in my life.

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I was thinking, ‘Jessica, there’s no way you’re a perfectionist. You wouldn’t spend hours and hours and hours on one essay trying to get it absolutely perfectly right and then hand it up. That’s not me at all. I, in that situation, aim at doing as good as I can, and then just hand it up.’ 

But perfectionism can show up in ways that you don’t expect until you truly reflect on your behaviour. Let’s take your fitness health for an example. You’re working at losing weight and you’re working out, you’re drinking water and you’re eating healthy. And let’s say you’re also comfort eating on the couch at nighttime. Now, for some people, perfectionism can show up there when they say to themselves, “I am so down and so bothered about my food. What is the point of exercise? What’s the point of doing anything, if not everything is perfect?”

That’s perfectionism showing up in your life and preventing you from getting really good benefits from your workouts, drinking water, eating healthy, because you think everything has to be all going right, all at the same time. Now, many, many women do that. That’s why that expression, all or nothing, is so popular.

So many people describe themselves as that. Actually, it’s you not thinking that that’s good enough for now, that every single thing has to be absolutely correct. When actually, the person that’s getting on with their exercise, drinking water and allowing themselves to still be comfort eating, while they’re exercising and doing all the other healthy stuff, is the person that’s going to progress much faster. Yet the person that has been comfort eating and has stopped exercising because of that, is probably looking at that other person going, “What are you doing? Why are you exercising when you don’t even have the food in order?”

And that is where the problem lies. And that is where, as women, we can hold ourselves back so much from progressing. Have you ever looked back on your life and you’re doing a project or something and you just go, “No, no, no, no, not now. I need to study more. I need to get another course under my belt. I need to have all this correct.” That’s perfectionism showing up. Once you become aware of it… Well, I can only say what helped me. Once I became aware of it, I started to do things that I didn’t really think I was good enough at doing because I hadn’t A, B, C, D, sorted yet. But then I realised there’s two versions of me competing in a race. One, the me who lives in my head, thinking, ruminating.. and the other me, the action taker… who’s going to win?

What I found really helpful too, when I was dealing with perfectionism and working at getting rid of it, was, look at it from somebody that doesn’t know you’s point of view, that they’re looking at you and all they’re seeing is you doing nothing because the rest of it is in your head. And once I thought of it like that, it blew my mind, “Oh my God, I look like I’m doing nothing, when actually in my head I’m really caring so much, but that’s not coming across. It looks like I’m doing absolutely nothing.” So once you know this, for me anyway, I couldn’t unknow it. So you start to go, “Oh my God, I’m doing nothing. If it’s to do with perfectionism, that means I’m waiting for all these things to happen. God, I’m doing nothing.” So I hope you found that helpful.

One simple tip to take away the next time you are wondering if your perfectionism is showing up. is to imagine you’re a stranger, watching you. What do they see? Do they see someone taking loads of action or doing nothing? Do they see someone writing down loads of plans but not acting on any of it?

Are you literally doing nothing, and living in your head? Do you think you’re doing nothing but actually you’re just over-thinking?

Remember that all progress is good.  Taking action is better than doing nothing.

I used to exercise, drink water and eat healthy. I also used to comfort eat. I would comfort eat if I was happy, if I was celebrating, if I felt stressed, if I felt sad.

And that always made my weight fluctuate. And it wouldn’t matter how many workouts I did or the healthy eating plan that I would be on, that I would be eating or the water that I drank, it didn’t make a difference. My weight was constantly fluctuating. I was always gaining or losing weight, but throughout that time I was still healthy and I was fit. So just in terms of your fitness and your health, and if you’re working at losing weight, remember that you don’t need to be doing everything really well, that you can work out and have bad food or food that you’re not happy with, and you can be eating great and skipping your workouts.

But you know what? If you workout through that time, through the unhealthy thing that you’re doing, then when you have that cracked, all your lovely other healthy stuff will be lovely and in alignment.

I hope you enjoyed it, let me know your thoughts below.

(Are you receiving my Newsletter every week? Get my motivational tips straight to your inbox , I pack a much as I can into this! Yes, please add me!)

Jessica Cooke X

P.S. Take action and move forward X

About the author 

Jessica Cooke

I love drinking coffee, and my favourite thing in life (apart from my family) is to empower women to lead fitter, healthier and happier lives. (oh, and also I love playing with my two Miniature Schnauzers, Buster and Ozzy)

I’ve coached more than 6,140 women over 14 years to lead fitter, healthier and happier lives.

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