It’s amazing how many of us are self-proclaimed perfectionists! It’s a ‘condition’ that affects so many of us and as Mums it can really negatively dominate our day to day experience of parenthood, if we let it.
We often see perfectionism as a sign of high standards or good attention to detail. But in reality, perfectionism is a fragile line to be walking on….
When things are going well, it can be motivating and drive you to succeed. But when things inevitably DON’T go to plan, perfectionism can quickly send us on a relentless spiral to unhappiness and self-criticism and can become a toxic force.
And that’s because ultimately, perfection is a really unhealthy and unconstructive myth created by society that supports the mistaken belief that it is actually possible to achieve perfection in the first place!
Some may disagree, but I passionately believe that perfectionism is completely unrealistic and unattainable.
To have everything absolutely flawless and in order ALL THE TIME is a complete impossibility. And that isn’t even taking being a mum into account!
Throwing Motherhood into the mix only makes any aspirations of doing everything perfectly even less feasible!
Because Motherhood is unpredictable, challenging and constantly changing! And kids aren’t onducctive to perfectionism – they are chaotic, test boundaries, and reactive!
When the goal posts are constantly changing it is inevitable that things won’t always go to plan – and the sooner we can make peace with that idea, the better!
I get it!
Being a parent is probably the most important job you will ever do, so it really is the perfect thing to get perfect! Which is why we feel the need to set ridiculously high and often unrealistic expectations for ourselves.
But if you constantly try to be a perfect parent, you risk putting your self-worth through the ringer constantly. And that can knock your confidence in yourself and your parenting and suck the joy out of time with your kids.
Those things are too precious to sacrifice, so rather than berating yourself daily its essential that you find ways to break free from those ingrained behaviours and liberate yourself from the destructive power that perfectionism can have over your life.
Here are a few strategies to try out for yourself….
1. Be kind and compassionate to yourself
As Mums we make life so much harder for ourselves than necessary! Rather than setting ourselves unattainable expectations we need to cut ourselves some slack and give ourselves a goddam break! We need to remind ourselves daily that we are only human, with multi-faceted traits just like the next person! And it’s more than ok to show up as a ‘good enough Mum’ rather than trying to live up to this ‘Super Mum’ myth society forces onto us. See if you can park the hoop jumping and turn down the pressure to a level that you can tolerate, as it could help you feel a whole lot more in control and at peace in yourself.
2. See the good stuff
Our in-built negativity bias naturally focuses on the things that didn’t go well rather than those that did, which only fuels the fire of perfectionism. But there is undoubtedly so much good stuff happening right under your nose, if you only take a moment to stop and see it for yourself! Rather than dwelling on all you believe you lack, see if you can cultivate a more positive and abundant mindset. Taking time daily to notice and celebrate your wins, however big or small, can have a powerful impact on diluting perfectionism and boosting your self-esteem and self-worth.
3. Curb your comparison
Comparison can make you feel horribly imperfect, and getting pulled into a comparison spiral in Motherhood can be a especially destructive at a time when your identity is already being put through its paces. We often look to others to feel better about ourselves, but as our gaze drifts we can also end up feeling pretty inadequate and disappointed with our lot and filled with a sense that we are getting life all wrong. Which you aren’t, by the way!
Finding ways to turn the spotlight away from everyone else’s life and focus on the amazing job you’re doing yourself is key to overcoming your need to be perfect and feeling more accepting of yourself.
Boundaries are essential in overcoming comparison! If certain people or things in your life are making you feel less, create boundaries that drown out that negativity and protect your self-esteem. If you’re triggered by people on social media, remember you are likely seeing someone’s highlight reel rather than their 'warts and all' reality behind closed doors. And, when you catch yourself in comparison mode, hit pause and instead take some positive and purposeful action that will make you feel like you are moving forward FOR YOU
4. Reframe your failures
Perfectionism gives us the impression that we absolutely cannot and must not ever fail at anything. But actually, there is huge value to be gained by taking action imperfectly and so many lessons to learn and opportunities to grow
When things don’t go to plan or live up to your expectations, rather than dwelling on the things that went wrong, focus on what you learnt from the experience, what knowledge you now have, and how you might do things differently in future.
5. Be a role model
If we expected our kids to be perfect all the time, we’d realise pretty quickly that was a very big and unrealistic ask! So why do we expect perfection from ourselves?
Trying to be perfect all the time is exhausting, so it feels a really important lesson to teach our kids that being imperfect is OK! If our kids see us openly embracing our own mistakes, it will set an example for them that they don’t need to grow up putting pressure on themselves to be perfect either.
Openly modelling imperfection around our kids is a great way to train ourselves to accept our own failures, and will in turn help our kids to cultivate a much healthier and more resilient relationship with themselves.
It’s horribly ironic that by striving for perfection we can often be left feeling deeply imperfect in ourselves. Which ultimately equates to a huge waste of time and energy!
Taking positive steps to unshackle yourself from the toxicity of perfectionism will open your eyes and mind to the fact that you’re undoubtedly kicking some awesome Motherhood butt in your own fabulous right.
The Parenthood Coach