Are You a Potentialist?
If perfect isn’t possible, then how do we learn to embrace the positive side of our perfectionist tendencies while reducing the negative emotions that sometimes come along with our intense determination and desire to achieve?
Though I believe it’s possible for perfectionism to create some positive results in your life, it is also possible that your mind can become consumed by comparisons, envy, doubt, and self-judgment. You can become focused on your failures and shortcomings rather than your progress. You can beat yourself up over mistakes and feel frustrated by the things you didn’t do or didn’t do well enough. You might feel compelled to “fix” things because you know in your heart that you aren’t meeting your potential. Or that you aren’t satisfying the people who matter most to you. No matter what fuels your desire to be perfect, it is not achievable and therefore, is not healthy.
There’s a better way.
You can make the switch to Potentialism. Potentialists are the well-adjusted relatives of Perfectionists. Much like Perfectionists, Potentialists realize that they haven’t yet met their potential but rather than making them feel inadequate, it inspires them. They still strive to be the best version of themselves.
They learn and grow, hope and dream. They stretch and challenge themselves – not because they are lacking, but because they are thrilled by the idea that they can be better tomorrow than they were today. Potentialists act and think from a place of positive self-expression. When you strive to pursue potential over perfectionism, you enjoy the journey and celebrate your achievements. You feel good about who you are and where you’re going.
The difference is not so much in what you DO but in how you FEEL about what you do.
Perfectionism comes at great cost to your self-worth, relationships, and overall happiness. No matter what you do, it’s never enough. No matter how well you perform, it’s never enough. No matter how hard people try to please you, it’s never enough. No matter how hard you try to please others, it’s never enough.
When you fail, or make mistakes, you beat yourself up. You fear taking risks or making mistakes because you are terrified by the possibility of looking bad in front of anyone else.
And the stress just keeps piling up.
If this is you, you’re not alone.
After more than twenty years of research, psychologists Paul Hewitt and Gordon Flett have found that perfectionism has a strong relationship to depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and other mental and physical health problems. According to Hewitt and Flett, perfectionists are more likely than nonperfectionists to:
- Generate stress by pursuing unrealistic goals
- Anticipate the future with worry and anxiety
- Perpetuate stress by coping in maladaptive ways such as rumination (overthinking) or re-doubling of the effort to avoid mistakes and prevent failures
- Overgeneralize and catastrophize situations so that everything seems worse than it really is
That information doesn’t surprise me. After all, it’s no secret. Perfectionists control what they can and worry about what they can’t.
They stress, then think about their stress, and then stress over their stress, and then stress about needing to reduce their stress.
I’m going to guess that you’re already an achiever. (Perfectionists generally are!) But the very fact that you are reading this book – tells me that you know something important. You are either unhappy, dissatisfied, or not achieving all you know you are capable of. Perhaps you know that you’re living a smaller life than you’re capable of living.
Some part of you knows that perfectionism is stunting your growth.
The growth of your business, your art, your relationships, your leadership, your parenting, your happiness. It’s limiting your capacity. And there’s nothing worse for a perfectionist than knowing you can do better.
It’s time to confront your perfectionism…and put it in its place. It’s time for you to WIN your War With Perfect!
Want to learn more about how to make the most of your perfectionism? Be sure to sign up below and I’ll send you a free digital copy of my new book, Waging War With Perfect: Battle Your Inner Critic and Win, when we launch at the end of February.
This is the sixth post in the Waging War on Perfect Series. In case you missed other posts in the series, you can check them out below:
Thanks and have a fantastic day!