[Author – Laura Muth]
The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.
Perfectionism and eating disorders often go hand in hand. Like perfectionism, an eating disorder can cause self-defeating thoughts and behaviours, leading to an obsession with rigid control over you body, weight or appearance. This may result in compulsive behavioural patterns which helps reinforce and maintain your sense of control. Perfectionism can also drive you to believe you have to actually be perfect at your eating disorder itself. The constant shame, judgment and blame caused by your eating disorder can drive perfection to become addictive.
Regardless of whether you have an eating disorder or not, that false belief that if we were perfect enough, everything would be right in our life may be familiar. However, striving for perfection is similar to chasing the end of a rainbow; you are searching for something that doesn’t truly exist.
In modern society, it’s very easy for people to portray a ‘perfect’ version of themselves on social media, such as Facebook and Instagram. Remind yourself that these images do not reflect the full picture of a person’s life. Therefore, there is no point in criticizing or comparing yourself with the latest Victoria Secret model whose posted numerous pictures of her ‘perfect life’ including her ‘perfect body’ whilst on a ‘perfect holiday’ . It is important to know that this is a false representation of her authentic self. Let go of this pressure to be perfect and start living in the moment and appreciating yourself.
Beginning to overcome perfectionism starts with self-compassion and accepting our imperfections. Holding a perfectionistic attitude has taught us to drive ourselves relentlessly towards a goal with little to no compassion or understanding for ourselves. Therefore the concept of self-kindness and self-care can initially seem impossible. The practice of self-compassion allows you to give yourself the same kindness as you show others and it will stop you from judging yourself so harshly. It will also allow you to give yourself the same level of understanding that you so willingly give to others. You will be less likely to judge yourself harshly when you fail or make mistakes.
“A moment of self-compassion can change your entire day. A string of such moments can change the course of your life.”
So next time you beat yourself over something; stop. Be aware of what you are doing and saying to yourself. Is this judgment coming from a well or an unwell voice? Are there any reasons to doubt this statement? What would you say to a friend who has such a negative opinion of themselves?
“Letting go of your perfectionism allows you to be truly perfect at the one thing that is attainable – being a perfectly imperfect human being.”