How to Deal With Perfectionism Paralysis

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How to Deal With Perfectionism Paralysis

I feel heavy today.

Slow, and sluggish. Like my feet are getting sucked into some dark, sticky muck and it takes a full-bodied effort just to walk.

Self-doubt is weighing on me, like those lead vests they lay over you in the dentist’s office–you know, when they x-ray your teeth? Do they still do that? (I haven’t been to the dentist in a while.)

I finally heard back from the job I wanted so badly–I didn’t get it.

I’ll be honest, the news came as a shock, and it hit me pretty hard. I knew I was a top candidate, and had gotten extremely positive feedback from the hiring manager and upper management. I was already searching for day-care for my kids.

But life is unpredictable, and it almost never looks like what we imagine or predict it will. This obviously wasn’t the right thing for me, so it’s time to move on.

The problem is, i’m already resisting.

I was clinging so tightly to the idea of getting this job, that now everything seems all wrong. I’m not supposed to be here, on this uncertain ground, searching for footing.

My intuition tells me I need to make a move–start a fresh path, but the perfectionist in me screams,

“WAIT! Don’t move! We don’t have the perfect plan yet!”

My perfectionism bleeds into much more than my writing. I’ve taken a couple of months off from working out, and while part of me wants to go to the gym tomorrow morning, but my internal perfectionist reminds me that I don’t have it all mapped out–what exercises to do, and in what order, and if I go in the gym unprepared, well, it will just be a hot mess. I guess we’re better off flabby and out of shape, but hey–at least we have our dignity!

And with this next move, it’d better be the right one, or i’ll just be wasting more time. I’ll just be floundering out there in jobless limbo, looking lost and pathetic.

I’m willing to bet that perfectionism is what holds a great deal of brilliant creatives back from reaching their true potential.

You don’t want to do it unless it’s going to be perfect. You don’t want to pick up that camera, perform that monologue or write that first chapter. It’s going to be crap,  you just know it! Just thinking about it makes your stomach turn, so you sit back in your comfortable little bubble and do nothing. Just fantasize about it for a while. It’s always perfect in your head, right?

But we all know that bubble isn’t all that comfortable. Especially when we see opportunities pass us by, or when we see others succeeding where we know we could. It breaks us out of our fantasies for a moment, makes us realize the time we wasted daydreaming while others were out there doing. And the shame we feel just makes us retreat deeper into the bubble.

But awareness of this vicious cycle is the first step in breaking it. Old habits are extremely stubborn and difficult to change, and we have to forgive ourselves when we naturally fall back into them.

I feel lucky that I recognized the familiar ankle-weights of self-doubt and perfectionism so quickly after my set-back.

So tomorrow I will move–no matter how sloppy and imperfect it feels.

It’s the only way forward.

Does self-doubt or perfectionism hold you back from reaching your potential? Share your thoughts in the comments! 

Copyright: alphaspirit / 123RF Stock Photo









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