The 1000 Days Sober Blog

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First Step of Letting Go of Perfectionism

It started like this: you had the idea of being detached from the habit you are genuinely aware that could destroy you. Avoiding and resisting yourself into a relapse makes you overthink and overdo things.

Then, you began pushing yourself to be as lenient as possible and micro-managing every action you do. Continually improving, polishing, and being rigid with your goal only puts you under more significant stress.

Hopeless as it may seem, you already know within yourself the answer to this situation. 

Perfectionism is battled cognitively. The first step is acknowledgement. Your admittance of engaging in a self-destructive and self-reinforcing habit isolates the problem.

And just like everything you do, it takes a lot of practice. Pay closer attention to your day-to-day work tasks, how you interpret the expectation of others, and most importantly, how you respond to all of this.

However, we tend to become so obsessed with the idea of labelling to categorise ourselves in groups.

Recognising perfectionism and its existence as a behaviour needing change and not a part of your identity makes it easier for you to overcome. It is not your personality, and you can do something about it.

A Striver shares how she managed to acknowledge her perfectionism on The STRIVE Method for Addictions. 

She commented, “I very much struggle with perfectionism. From a young age, I learnt that I needed to do things perfectly to get the love that I desperately needed and avoid the abuse. I never learnt that perfectionism doesn’t exist and that no matter what I did, I would still get abused because it wasn’t about me. It was about my mother. It is only now, 30 something odd years later, that this is logically becoming clearer. But that doesn’t erase the trauma. I think perfectionism will always be a part of my life and mindset. “If I do this just right, I act/look/speak… just right, if I love just right if I get upset just right if I deal with my trauma just right if I do the assignments just right if I interact on Strive just right…” and the thoughts go on. It is haunting how these thoughts follow me and trip me up. I haven’t found the solution [to] this just yet. I would say I am in the awareness phase of my perfectionism. I notice it. I recognise it. Most of the time, it trips me up, and it can lead to drinking because I discover “more evidence” for how “bad” I am not and not perfect enough. My confidence tumbles, and so does my self-worth. This is a place for more work for me…”

When you become aware of struggling with the problem, you already took that one leap of progression. And you don’t need to have all the answers to move forward just yet. You just need to admit being imperfectly perfect, just like everybody else. Are you ready to take the leap?