Perfectionism and its discontents

I have a grand habit of making commitments and… well… failing to keep them when I have a bad night’s sleep, I have have a LOT of washing to do, hormones start swinging or I’m just not in the mood. In fact, all goes well for a week and then the fall. Sometimes it’s slow motion, other times I ‘wake up’ on the floor wondering what happened.

This cycle of boom and bust drives me nuts. One good week followed by one bad week followed by another good week and then another bad week. It’s fairly predictable, I feel  stuck with it and don’t know how shift it. I’m not even talking about breaking it. Everyone has bad days and sometimes shit happens that takes time to resolve. I’m not after perfect consistency, just not this completely predictable inconsistency.

Or am I? I like to tell people I am a ‘recovering perfectionist’. I realise more and more the emphasis is really well and truly on the ‘recovering’ bit. I consciously make commitments, rationally telling myself that “it’s okay to have a bad day occasionally” and “remember, you’re human, you’re not going to be perfect, just be good enough.”

But my subconscious is still, firmly a perfectionist and that drives this boom and bust cycle of productivity. I have one slightly less productive day (let alone a bad day), and the perfectionist in me begins chattering constantly about my faults, and how I just need to burn it all down and start again because… “you just can’t fix this trainwreck!” Fighting it is exhausting and drives me further down; one slightly less productive day leads to days of exhausted brain fog till the weekend and I manage to flip the reset button.

Admitting you have a problem is the only way to begin resolving it, and I’m going to try. I’m a recovering perfectionist and I am going to keep trying to work out the psychological knots that keep me from being not just productive but from being fully present and available to the people around me.

If anyone else struggles with this and has some helpful insights, I’d love to hear them and your stories.

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