What it's Like to be 'Good Enough': Addressing Perfectionism
Updated: Nov 10, 2020
I often hear clients talk about not feeling “good enough” or setting bars and standards that are perfect and unattainable. This can come from expectations that others have had for us that turned into our own expectations. What really is “good enough” and how do we determine that with healthy expectations of ourselves and others? Life is about finding balance and flexibility with ourselves and with the people around us because perfection is impossible. If we keep reaching for perfection, we will continue to fail and face rejection and disappointment over and over again. There is always someone that you will perceive as “better” than you and you will never be able to meet that expectation for yourself.
Perfectionism is usually motivated by a desire to be accepted and loved by others. We often grow up and are conditioned to think that we can achieve that, sometimes only, by being perfect and making no mistakes. Perfectionism and having unrealistic expectations can come from being raised by overly critical parents or parents who have not been able to provide enough support for you (emotionally, mentally, or even physically). Other influences can have an impact as well such as cultural expectations or norms, peer relationships, other familial relationships, or even other authority figures such as teachers.
The problem is that no matter how much we have, we often are left wanting no more. For example, no matter how much money we have there is always room to make more. No matter how amazing our partner is, there are always flaws and things we wish we had. No matter how clean our house is, it can always be cleaner. No matter how successful we are within our careers, we can always accomplish more.. These thoughts prevent us from ever feeling satisfied with life and are stuck in always punishing ourselves for past decisions or mistakes and constant planning for the future. We are never truly present and able to engage wholeheartedly with our lives.
Life is not meant to be perfect. If we were perfect, we would have no room for growth and improvement. Life would be super boring if we didn’t have the opportunity to learn, grow, and challenge ourselves. There are times where we need to slip, we need a cheat day, or we simply just need to reset and it is all a part of the process. Progress, especially the most lasting progress, comes in the form of one step back and two steps forward. We have to fall to get back up again even though it is painful to go through that we have to see purpose in it and value in failure.
To move forward and find balance in your life, it is not easy and will come with challenges. You have to leave room for mistakes, growth, and acceptance all at the same time. Having self-compassion through the experience is necessary to know that you are good enough even when you aren’t constantly achieving or even when you are making mistakes. When we are striving for perfection, we become less human and less relatable for others. That can make it hard to really be authentic, genuine, or truly embrace your best self.
Another helpful tip in trying to overcome perfectionism and find your “good enough” is finding a helpful therapist. Therapy can help to assess and explore some of the causes of where the perfectionism is coming from. Certain types of therapy such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can provide tools and techniques in challenging, reframing, and dismantling the thoughts that are leading to perfectionism. To find a therapist best suited for you, using a directory such as mental health match, psychology today, or therapyden. To connect with me, you can book your free 30 minute consultation on our website or feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Although I am a therapist by profession, I am not YOUR therapist. This article is for informational and educational purposes only, does not replace therapy and does not establish any kind of therapist-client relationship with me. I am not liable or responsible for any damages resulting from or related to your use of this information. To see more information about our disclamer(s): https://www.mindfulsolutionscorp.com/disclaimers