How to Get Over Perfectionism and Stop Procrastinating with one sentence.
How to get over Perfectionism and Stop Procrastinating with one simple sentence.
I have lived a very criticized life.
From the moment, I was born I have been looked upon, picked at, fussed over, judged, commented on, and criticized about everything. This may be a symptom of every youngest child ,only daughter of Immigrant parents in America. However, for me the constant magnification of every good and bad thing about me has had long lasting positive and negative effects. And currently, the negatives are blocking my blessings in a very major way. I am in a mighty struggle to learn how to get over my over critical parents. This is not to say that I wasn’t loved. This is to say that I was….
something…. some word I’m not even sure I know yet.
I was born the youngest and only girl of two people who should not have married. But they were and they worked hard to give me and my three older brothers the kind of life that they never could have dreamed of from the edge of the Atlantic ocean in Keta.
There is a lot to be said about my parents. They are both very smart people. They are both very kind people. They are both the life of every party and the talk of every town. They are dynamic, funny, industrious, strong, and at the core of who they are they are very good people. They are also both relentless perfectionists, professional guilt trippers, more judge-y that Judge Judy and as I’m coming to learn now, extreme narcissists. I don’t think they meant any harm. I know for a fact that the way the raised me is EXACTLY the way they were raised. So they didn’t know any better, so they didn’t do any better.
The know better do better part is up to me to complete.
A while back, I realized that my parents NEVER told me they loved me growing up. Like, never. Never doesn’t mean like once a day or occasionally. I have zero point zero recollection of my parents ever opening their mouths and saying I love you to me as a child. Never.
When I went away to college, I took a psychology class and my professor talked about the importance of that kind of reinforcement of love from their parents. I can clearly remember walking back to my dorm room RACKING my brain for an instance of my parents telling me they loved me. And…. Nothing.
I mean they showed me they loved me by caring for my needs. I had great clothes, great shelter, and FANTASTIC food. They made sure I was well-mannered, well read, well-traveled, and well-educated. But my emotional well-being, the soft part of my heart was not and never was or will be the focus for my parents. They are not lovey dovey people. They don’t do long hugs, cuddles, kisses, or I love you’s.
I don’t have the kind of parents whose house you go to when you need a respite from the world. I don’t have the kind of mother who you go to crying about your first heartbreak. Or the kind of father who you cry thru the first dance at your wedding with. They don’t do that.
On that walk back from class, I came up with my high school graduation when my dad and my mom both gave me the same kind of congratulations speech that went like this…
Well, Senam, and we are proud of you. You are a very smart girl. BUT you have a long way to go. You have to finish college. You have to complete post grad. Get a good job and then you have to come back and take care of your mother and I the way we want to be cared for. You can’t be a baby anymore. You can’t be the kind of messed up Senam you have always been. Now it is time to be the right kind of Senam. You have to be good now.
I am obviously paraphrasing because I graduated high school in 1892 or what have you but that is 92.783985830458093% exactly what they said.
PS. The Senam I was, Senior Class President Senam, Prom Queen Senam, Girl State Governor Senam, The lead in the school play Senam, Peer mediator Senam, Peer Tutor Senam, worked 20 hours a week Senam, never ever got in trouble Senam, and got a FULL RIDE Scholarship to college SENAM. That was the Senam I was… but I needed to stop being her. She was the messed up kind of Senam.
This is the message I have always received and now internalized so deeply in my life. I am loved, I can do amazing things but no matter what something is always going to be wrong. There will always be some criticism. I could never achieve for my own benefit or do what I wanted to do. Nothing I could ever do would be worthy of complete love and acceptance because I could never do anything perfectly.
This is not to take away from the fact that my parents told me good things about myself. This is just to say that every good thing I always heard about myself was ALWAYS followed with a list of all the bad things that were wrong with me and needed immediate changing. This is damaging in a very deep primal way. I’m have undone a lot the harm that being taught from birth that you will never be good enough can cause. But good lord, them still waters run very, very deep.
So do you know what I did? I developed a lot of coping mechanisms (emotional eating), insecurities (people pleasing), crutches (disorganization), and sought a lot of CRAP (Criticism, Rejection, Assholes & Pressure) to “help” me get over.
It has taken me years to understand my most harmful coping mechanism because it is so pervasive in every area of my life I couldn’t even see it.
I am a horrible, terrible, no good, ridiculous PERFECTIONIST. I mean uh duh right? Parents chastise every little thing you do for every possible mistake you could make so you become a perfectionist… OBVI!!
Well, not so obvi. Because if you look at my life.
It does not scream perfectionist. I have quit to many things to count. I didn’t complete college. My house is never showroom ready. I am late and forget appointments regularly. I have no idea how to apply proper make up. I have 73 billion actual talents and have perfected none. I quit most things at the first sign of difficulty. Some days, I take my kids to Wendy’s for dinner. And on more days than I care to mention, my daily to do list just does not get DONE.
In my head, this is the furthest thing from perfectionism I could imagine. Perfectionist are relentless. Perfectionist are meticulous. Perfectionists are able to stick with a task and get shit done.
Because as per usual, ya girl SistaTV, is always a special kind of whatever she may be.
You see, I am so bound and affected by my perfectionism that it paralyzes all my efforts. I quit and fail to complete most things because whats the f-ing point? I’m going to mess it up some how! Its never going to be perfect or even just plain good enough so why even bother? My perfectionism doesn’t even let me take a shot.
I procrastinate, quit, delay, and deny myself progress and success in my life cause I am convinced that no matter what I do it will never be enough. I have convinced my self I am not worthy of the effort it takes to complete my goals, care for myself, and love myself they way I deserve. I have convinced and conditioned myself to be physically unable to see the good in anything I do unless it is 1000000% perfect. And it will never be perfect because even if I think it is I have always let somebody’s opinion triumph my own.
My parents recorded this tape in my head and my heart when I was younger. This tape runs through my head barely audibly just under the surface of everything I do. In someways, it was a comfort. It some ways that kind of hypercritical judgment from your family was the only understanding of love I had.
So you know what I did once I got older and had a CHOICE in the kind of relationships and family I would create for myself?
You better believe it. I went and fell madly completely in love with the most hypercritical, judgmental, nothing you do will ever be good enough individual I could find. It was perfect. Now I was an adult and now I could totally make this completely and totally unpleaseable, never going to be happy with anything I did person love me and happy at ANY costs. If I had to deny myself respect, honor, and the kind of love I deserved SO WHAT?? If I could make him happy and keep him pleased despite the fact that this would NEVER happen EVER. I would win. I would prove myself worthy of love and all would be right in the world….
And I was certain that his constant snide comments, his relentless criticisms of everything I did was not because he was a prick. Nope, he didn’t say thank you or appreciate any of my efforts because he was trying to help me. People who love you treat you really poorly, because deep down they want you to be the best version of yourself, guys… Amirite??
For example: Of course, he should criticize the gourmet meals I pack for him. Yes, I made him a special dinner to take on a day when he cried to me about being so hungry. Yes, I made this dinner despite the divorce we are getting because of the EPIC, EPIC laundry list of horrific offenses he committed against our marriage and my life. Yes, I made it just the way he loves it. But God damn it, babe. There is no fork. Well, there is a fork… But its a plastic fork. Why would you pack a plastic fork for a to go meal to be eaten in a car? Sigh. I mean, thank you or whatever but a plastic fork? You’ll just never get it right.
So here I sit. At the moment, I am a 34 years old, soon to be divorced, over weight, under employed, single mother of three. I have spent too much of my life feeling unloved, unworthy, and incapable of being all that I can be. I have believed lies people told me about who I am and what I can do. I have told myself that I am a fuck up and then sought out people who would mirror that back to me for their own reasons. I have had people sabotage, criticize and disrespect me for so long, I don’t even need them to do it for me… I do it to myself.
But shout out to little brown eight pound, seven ounce, baby Jesus on the cross… I am done with that bull. I am done with that tape. I am done with all of those harmful relationships. I am done with negative self talk. I am done with procrastination. I am done with low self worth. I am done with the you are never going to be good enough lie. I am done with not being the me I know I can be.
I am learning how to get over perfectionism and stop procrastinating by recording my self a new tape to play until it is second nature.
Here is the first part of my new tape.
I love myself. I am deserving of every good thing. I am worthy of all the desires of my heart. I am an excellent example of all that is good in the world. I am remarkably intelligent. I am unspeakably strong. I am undeniably talented. I am outlandishly capable of accomplishing anything. I am a warrior woman and nothing and nobody will prevent me from any goal. I am successful. I am consistent. I am good enough, I am smart enough and gosh darn it people LOVE ME. I am worthy.
And this is the most important part of my new tape. This is what I tell myself as I struggle with the not good enough tape that tries to make it impossible to post every blog, edit every SistaTV video, plan every Sole Moms meetup, and complete every MyDesignDiva Website. This is what I tell myself as I rise up to the challenges of my new single mom life, the concerns about my finances, or the worry about going back to school. This is what I will tell myself as I go from wounded to warrior and from defeated to defined.
It doesn’t have to be perfect, It just has to be done.
So no matter how I feel. How discouraged I feel about the possibility of a less than stellar final result. Done is better than nothing. Done is better than feeling disappointed in what you could have or should have done. Done is better than perfect. And further more if it is done by me (or you)… No matter who you are, it has been done by a child of God & love, and that is way more than good enough… That, my friends, IS perfect.
SistaTV Loves You!