5 Bad Habits of a Perfectionist

Do you know who your Inner Mean Girl is? Mine is a perfectionist, and she tries to kick my ass every chance she gets. Ever since I was a kid, I remember loving getting the right answer, getting good grades, being the leader, and feeling like I had to win; this was the foundation of the perfectionist that lives inside of me today.

Photo by Nathan Dumlao

Christine Arylo founded the Inner Mean Girl Reform School to help you to identify your inner-critic by reclaiming your power. Her best selling book, Reform Your Inner Mean Girl: 7 Steps to Stop Bullying Yourself and Start Loving Yourself, provides an in depth look into the power we give to our inner critic and that the only way to defy her is to reform her.

“Until a woman identifies the inner abusive, fear-driven voice as a separate entity—her Inner Mean Girl—she has no choice but to be a victim to its self-sabotaging advice. This is why she keeps repeating self-sabotaging patterns and stays stuck in the continuous loop of feeling inadequate, unhappy, and overwhelmed, no matter what she does. ”

Christine Arylo

I found myself in that continuous loop and being a perfectionist made me feel inadequate all the time because perfection is impossible.

I had enough of my own bullshit.

I needed to address my Inner Mean Girl by taking a deeper dive into my perfectionism. Here are the 5 bad habits of perfectionists that keep them from self-love:

1. Always Comparing Self

I spent so much time comparing myself to other women. Envious of what they had; their confidence, their bank accounts, their travel destinations. It was exhausting holding myself hostage to their standards and comparing myself only limited my potential.

Here are 3 things you need to do to stop comparing yourself to others:

  1. Gratitude (be grateful for who you are, your abilities, and what you have)
  2. Self-Awareness + Honesty (ask yourself where these feelings are coming from and why you feel envious or jealous)
  3. Log off time (give yourself space from the social media bullshit that will make you believe that everyone’s life is perfect)

2. too High of a standard

Perfectionists always feel like they should be “above” something or my favorite “I am better than that.” For example, because I am a therapist and coach, I struggled with accepting that I needed help too and that mental health concerns do not discriminate. I was so determined to be perfect that I put myself on a pedestal and held myself to a standard that was unrealistic.

I was letting myself down by living by that unrealistic standard. Being perfect was exhausting and every time I received a kick in the ass and got knocked down, the fall was much greater and I fell much harder because I was holding myself hostage to the pedestal of perfection.

3. Feeling like a fraud

When you are trying to be perfect there is an internal fear of being exposed as a fraud. I would feel shame or like a hypocrite if I made a mistake, went against my inner-wisdom, or was not living based on the standard that I set for myself. Self-Honesty helped me to be truthful with myself about who I am and who I am not. Self-Acceptance helped me to embrace those parts of me that are flawsome. I have flaws and accepting that my choices are a part of me but they do not define me was a major part of my journey in overcoming perfection.

4. negative self-talk

Perfectionists are so mean to themselves. I was definitely my biggest bully. Here are some of the things that I would say to myself when I was not perfect:

  • Am I good enough?
  • I told you wouldn’t make it.
  • Of course this would happen to me.

Self-love is a path, a practice and a choice. -Christine Arylo

Negative self-talk is a major part of perfectionism because there is little to no room for error. Every time an error was made, my inner-critic would literally say the things that reminded me of my fears. She would tell me that I am unworthy, unqualified, and unable to do all that I was capable of doing. Self-Compassion had to become a priority for me to be able to challenge those negative thoughts by saying the things to myself that I would say to someone I love.

5. obsession with failure

You would think that a perfectionist would spend more time thinking about their achievements and success. As a former perfectionist, the reality is that I spent more time judging myself and focusing on all my failures than I did my successes. There is little time spent feeling good in the moment as a perfectionist because I was always expecting to fail in some way or looking for the problem. Even when the majority of things were good I would always focus on bad. My mind was consumed with every little problem and spent so much energy on my failures that I was blind to my wins.

The only way to challenge this obsession with failure is with gratitude. Being thankful in every moment and intentionally focusing on all the things that I am grateful for helped me to defy my fear of failure.

I realized that my inner-critic had more power over me than my inner-wisdom and perfectionism was keeping me from expressing, trusting, accepting, and being compassionate with myself when things did not go as I planned. Perfection is the opposite of self-love and it is our responsibility to be honest with ourselves about who we are, face it, and shift what we desire to grow or strengthen within us.

you are powerful.

-Ta’lor L. Pinkston, The Heart Advocate

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