Remember when I told you in my last post that “Perfectionism is the enemy of communication”? Yeah… I’m currently quite struggling with that statement 😅 Don’t get me wrong, I’m still convinced that it’s absolutely true. And that’s exactly the point I’m struggling with…
As much as I love to write, as difficult it is for me to find the right words to express my thoughts. It’s a bit like all things I want to say are stuck in my head and I’ve got to “unstuck” them before I’m able to write them down in an useful way. Kind of a big ball of wibbly-wobbly 😉 stuff up there in my mind…
And as soon as I’ve written a paragraph, I’m rereading it. And that might be a failure. Because when I do so, I always start thinking something like: “Huh, yeah, that’s okay. But I’m not really sure if these sentences make really clear what I want to say. There must be a way to express it in an even better way.” And here we go 🙄
That Leads Directly to Perfectionism
That’s it. Over and over again: Writing. Overthinking. Editing. Overthinking. Editing. Overthinking. Adding something. Overthinking. Editing. Overthinking. Writer’s block. Overthinking. Editing. Overthinking. Adding something. Overthinking. Editing. Overthinking. And with a lot of luck there might come the point, when I finally call a text “finished”. So there it is: a perfect example for perfectionism.
And yes: It’s definitely as strength-sapping, time-consuming and frustrating as it sounds.
I just want to write about stuff which flashes through my mind; anything I consider worth writing about. Just for fun. On a regular basis. It would be a big fat plus if I’d be able to improve my writing skills that way, as well. (And it would be even cooler, if there would be someone, somewhere, drinking a cuppa, reading my articles and consider them helpful and entertaining. I’d really love that. ❤)
Of course it is absolutely demotivating, if you’re writing for hours and hours, but you don’t get any sense of achievement. Certainly I’m happy when I’m able to finally hit the “publish button”, but as I spent so much time on writing an article, there isn’t much energy left to enjoy one of these great “YES-I-DID-IT!”-feelings; it’s rather a relief than anything else. (Just for fun, here some stats: I edited this article 13 times so far and spent seven hours writing. 95% of the first version’s paragraphs are completely gone. Okay, I admit: might be possible that I’m some kind of hardcore perfectionist 😅)
Being a perfectionist means that you have high standards. You always want to do a great job and you work very hard and they achieve very hard to achieve their goals. And that’s nothing bad, is it? That’s even a quite admirably character trait. But there is only a unbelievably slim line between the positive and negative aspects of perfectionism, so you’ve got to be careful. Very careful.
Don’t Let Perfectionism Get You Down!
Based on own experiences, perfectionism can have quite adverse impact on someone’s life. And that’s the case, as soon as it keeps you from achieving your goals (publishing new blog posts on a weekly basis or being able to make the deadline for work projects, for instance). Or if it makes you feel bad.
Perfectionists tend to struggle with making mistakes. They consider it as something really bad instead of seeing it as an opportunity for improvement. If they did something wrong or if they weren’t able to fulfil someone else’s or their own expectations, they often feel as if they have failed completely. Unfortunately, perfectionism can even make you feel pressured, anxious, upset, frustrated, sad, exhausted or even depressed. Perfectionist also often suffer from low self-esteem. (I’m also very familiar with these negative feelings and emotions.
Overcoming perfectionism can be really hard. (I know what I’m talking about.) But there are different approaches and strategies you might want to try, if you feel addressed.
I’m trying to give everyday life some sort of structure. I’ll set up concrete time slots for each task I’d like to accomplish. If I’m not able to achieve it, I try to be happy, anyway. Eventually, I didn’t have more time on hand and I definitely did my best. (Certainly, it doesn’t work every time (at lese not yet), but I consider it quite helpful, anyway.) I try to set up realistic goals, which I can achieve easily. For example I tidy up at least 10 minutes each day. I set an alarm, so I know when I’m allowed or forced to stop working. But it’s certainly more difficult to follow this plan when I’m in a middle of a task I really love to work on; writing an article, for instance (I definitely need to figure out how much time would be appropriate to spend on each post 😶 So if you’re a blogger yourself, please let me know how much time you plan. I’d love to get some advice. Thanks in advance! ☺)
I also found some relaxation strategies to calm me down and to get my mind free: I drink a cuppa (A cup of tea solves everything!), get lost in a good book 📚 , go out for a walk 🌳, take some deep breaths, meditate a bit, try to get aware of the moment I’m currently experiencing, talk to loved ones ☎ (doesn’t matter if it’s face to face or on the phone), cuddle my cat, treat myself to some pieces of chocolate 🍫 , listen to music 🎶 or dance very badly (the latter is definitely a realistic assessment and not based on low self-esteem 😂) Or I do all of these things.
It doesn’t matter which strategy you follow, the important part is that it helps you.
More strategies and interesting facts you’ll find in these articles: “How to Overcome Perfectionism” (published by Anxiety BC (The Anxiety Disorders Association of British Columbia)) and “Tipps für den Umgang mit Perfektionismus” (published by German psychotherapist Dr. Rolf Merkle on Psychotipps.com). Maybe you’ll find them as helpful as I do 🙂
Perfectionism and Language
Though, back to the quote I mentioned at the beginning 😄
If you’re a perfectionist and learning a new language, it will probably happen that you’ll set up goals impossibly to reach. For example: “I want to master English like a native speaker within a period of six months.” How should you be able to reach a goal like this beside a fulltime job and a family? So you’re going to feel pressured, and because of the few moments of feeling successful, you’ll probably feel discouraged and depressed instead.
Some people, myself included, are so anxious about making mistakes that they avoid situations which hold a high risk to fail. Relating to improving language skills, that involves especially avoiding writing texts (and publishing them) and actually speak. But if you’re too anxious about doing so, there is – unfortunately – no possibility to improve.
Try to realise that learning a language, especially if you just got started, is in a way primarily based on making mistakes. But that’s actually okay. You’ll learn from it and you’ll get better over time 🙂 Promise!
Are We In The Same Team?
Anyone else here who’d love the ability to turn off your mind for a couple of hours? 😅 (If hours aren’t available, I would also take minutes. I’m not hard to please.) Or who also suffers from perfectionism? Hey, how about a support group? We could produce even matching sweater 😂
But honestly: Take care of yourself and remember: Don’t let perfectionism (or anything else) get you down.