Ask a Coach: How Do I Stop Being a Perfectionist?May 02, 2022 06:00AM ● By Diane Martinez
Introducing our new Ask a Coach column where you can ask one of our three consulting coaches about just about anything! A new column will appear every month on our website and once a quarter in our print magazine. To submit a question, go to bit.ly/naa-ask-a-coach. ❧
"How do I stop being a perfectionist? When I was growing up, achievement was valued highly in our home. Doing “pretty good” was frowned upon, and now I feel stuck. I want to make some changes in my life, but I’m afraid of making a mistake."
We pick up many beliefs along our journey from childhood through adolescence and into adulthood. Many of these beliefs serve us well, such as believing that it’s wrong to hurt others, that it’s important to be polite, that we are capable of achieving our goals, that it’s good to help others and that saving money is responsible. These beliefs guide us to create lives that are rewarding for us and contribute to a healthy society.
However, some of the beliefs that have been ingrained in our psyches hold us back from challenging ourselves and taking the bold steps that would lead to a fulfilling and rewarding life. These are often referred to as “limiting beliefs.”
A pervasive limiting belief that fuels perfectionism is that we are not acceptable as we are—that value, worth and love must be earned, and they are earned through success. If we hold these beliefs, it is easy to become risk-averse. The stakes are high, and the payoff is not satisfying, as we are expected to crank out one success after another. How daunting.
Consider that your worth and value have already been established by Source. They are not enhanced or diminished by the success or failures that society recognizes. Your worth is immutable. You are loved and whole as you are. It is like walking on a tightrope that is one foot above the safety net. There is nothing truly at stake.
Whatever changes you strive to make, do so knowing you are lovable and worthy where you stand. Your value is not on the table. You are free to explore this life as your heart and soul beckon you to; you are free to experience the full range of successes and failures that a life well lived encompasses.
“My boss is driving me crazy with what I consider poor leadership. I almost turned in my keys today and walked out. Am I just being overly dramatic, or is this a sign to take the leap and leave?”
This is a great question, and I commend you for pausing to consider your best course of action, as it can be tempting to act in the heat of the moment. Taking time to clearly consider your options is wise! In this case, to determine your best next steps, consider sitting down with a sketch pad or journal and thoughtfully exploring the feelings this incident brought to the surface. Here are some questions that can be helpful to ask yourself:
- Have you shared your concerns with your boss?
- If not, what would you say?
- Is this a pattern, or were one or both of you just having a bad day?
- Are their leadership choices impeding the work you do?
- What specifically would you like to change?
- Does your dissatisfaction mostly stem from the current situation, or do you feel stymied in your creative expression?
- Are you bursting with new ideas or simply dissatisfied with what is?
- What are the best aspects of your current employment?
- What would you miss about the job if you were to leave?
- If you were to leave, what would you do? Would you seek another position or start your own business?
- What are the financial implications?
- What attributes would an ideal job have?
As you reflect on your emotions and thoughts surrounding this situation, tune into your body. How do you feel as you explore the alternatives? Listen deeply for the responses. Is there a feeling of dread when you truly consider not working there anymore? Or is there a rush of excitement when you sketch out how you would run a similar business of your own?
What we sense viscerally in our bodies are clues that can carry helpful information and can steer us to our best next steps. If you feel guilty that you haven’t yet spoken to your boss to discuss your concerns in a professional manner—you’ve only complained to friends—that guilt is telling you something. Make an appointment and have the conversation. Whatever way the meeting goes, you will gain clarity.
Conversely, do you feel excited, almost giddy, at the thought of having a shorter commute or having greater flexibility in your job? Or are you excited at the thought of doing a different sort of work altogether? Is this your opportunity to get out from behind a desk or into nonprofit work?
The truth is that for any question that arises in our minds, the answer lies within. As you reflect on both the positive and the not-so-positive aspects of your current job and the possibilities that come with leaving, your inner wisdom will guide you to your best course of action.
Trust yourself and the process. ❧
Diane Martinez is a certified holistic life coach based in Sandy Springs. She offers virtual and live one-on-one life coaching and small group classes on Zoom. Follow her on Instagram @LifeCoachMartinez and visit ConsciousCreatingLifeCoaching.com.