Perfectionism: Expectations vs. Reality
Let’s talk about perfectionism! Firstly, if you know me or read my blog posts regularly you may think I am a perfectionist. Perhaps because of what I do for a living you think that somehow my house and my life are perfect. No way! Although I do consider myself an expert in my field and I am always talking about living a clutter free life, my home is definitely not perfect. My house is a living thing! There are undone pockets of items at any given time because I live here. There are things going on. I've got a book out that I'm reading and teenager stuff piled up and that's O.K. My home doesn't have to look like a picture from a magazine all the time (and neither does yours). So no, I'm not perfect and I want to emphasize the concept of “being good enough.” The whole idea behind organizing your life and your things is not to spend a lot of time organizing, it's to spend more time doing the things that enrich your life. Organizing is a means to that end. It frees you up so that you have the time to go do those little things that mean so much. So let's just get this straight: being perfect is not a goal. It is unattainable. It is impossible, there is no such thing as perfect. Lasting stages of perfection do not exist!
That being said let's talk about the roots of perfectionism. One of them is a mindset called all or nothing thinking. It's the idea that if I can't do it perfectly I'm not going to do it at all. Believe it or not some of the most extreme clutter conditions you see on television are rooted in this all or nothing thinking. This is when stuff starts to accumulate and at some point it gets so overwhelming they just can't face it and they give up. And they just keep piling more and more on the stacks. I hear my clients say all the time, “because I just don't know where to start anymore.” All or nothing thinking can get any person in a trap and then you are stuck and paralyzed. Hence the phrase “analysis paralysis.” I run into this issue all the time. So the key to unlocking all or nothing thinking is to break through inertia.
Newton’s first law of motion = inertia
It is the tendency of a body at rest to remain at rest. You have to do something to bust through that and get started, do one step, take one small item and decide about it. Or take 10 minutes to do something small to bust through that inertia to create momentum. And continue going otherwise it's going to stay the way it is and you've got to do something, as things have gotten out of hand.
One more concept I want to talk about in regards to perfectionism is the fear of judgment. It is often rooted in what people will think of you and you say to yourself, “I’ve got to be perfect.” It’s the fear of judgement - what will people think? My potential clients worry what I’m going to think, they don’t want me to see their mess. Having children and life events can mellow anyone out a bit and you can learn how to shift out of that. But you can’t stay rooted in worrying what other people think and having this mask on all the time. Everyone wants people to like them and to be excepted and understood. However, people need to know the real you and you need to stop suffering needlessly worrying about what other people think of you, when you really should just be more joyful and relaxed. Think for a minute on one of my favorite sayings - What other people think of you is none of your business. Hmmm, I think you’ll find some freedom in that statement. But you can let go, you don't have to be perfect because no one is. Let me tell you a secret, when you stop trying to be perfect everybody else has permission to stop being perfect too. Since nobody can be perfect, how freeing is that for everyone else? You're giving everyone else a gift when you give up being perfect. So try to figure out what that one step is to create momentum in your life and get started today!