Perfectionism isn’t something you just get over and then you are done with it forever. You can learn a lot about yourself and perfectionism, how to give yourself more grace, and live a mostly reformed life, but during stressful times or when you least expect it, it creeps back in.
Writing a post about All or Nothing thinking has been on my mind for a while. The need to share this with you has only increased since the Declutter Challenge started last week and I’ve found myself telling so many different people the exact same thing: don’t give this an all or nothing approach. That is just a different way of saying: don’t be a perfectionist with this.
The irony, hilarious irony, is that I’ve been procrastinating writing this blog post because I’ve been nervous about not capturing this super-important topic the right way. So I’ve been doing Nothing because I was afraid I couldn’t do it All perfectly.
You may be a perfectionist reading this and not even realize it yet. Did you know that some perfectionists don’t necessarily look the way you think they would? Perfectionists can have very clean homes and very messy homes. Perfectionists can look like slobs or dress to impress. Perfectionists need to see a clear path or have a clear understanding how to do something exactly as it should be done perfectly (ALL), or they do NOTHING.
Truth – Perfection isn’t possible. Not for me and not for you.
How does Perfectionism effect decluttering?
- Perfectionists have a tough time missing a day or two and then continuing on with the rest of the group for the challenge. For them, if it isn’t All, it might as well be Nothing. And so they tell themselves they have to catch-up. Catching-up can be very difficult in an already difficult challenge, so it becomes overwhelming and they just stop trying all together. In actuality, had they been able to look past the imperfect days, and see that in the end 87 out of 91 days is pretty successful, they would be so much better off letting themselves keep going. And heck, while we’re at it, 45 out of 91 days is going to leave a pretty good mark on a home!
- Perfectionists try to add on additional tasks to the decluttering assignment. They want the room and space to be perfect when they complete the week even though the assignment is just to declutter, so they are deep cleaning and decorating. Even when they know it is not expected of them, they expect it of themselves and will feel like they failed if they don’t do it ALL. Often this leads to burnout, which leads to them doing Nothing instead. And now, not only did they not complete the over-zealous mission in their minds, they didn’t complete the original mission either.
The Pursuit of Better instead of Best
One way I’ve personally combatted my perfectionism, which has been so severe that it has been isolating and paralyzing to me at times in my life, is to pursue better instead of best. It is a small shift in my self-talk when I approach a project or an area of my home I want to work on. How can I make this better? That question is so much easier and less intimidating to answer than How do I make this the best?
I can feel you bristling at this. “Aren’t we always supposed to try our best? What you are proposing sounds like taking the easy way or giving up!” But as hard as this allowance is for a perfectionist to give themselves, it isn’t taking the easy way or giving up. To a perfectionist, this grace is life-giving. This gives them the room to go on and do amazing things or just regular things, which feels amazing to a perfectionist.
The first step truly is to understand and realize that you are a perfectionist and that you are acting in the All or Nothing mindset. Because if you can figure that out, you can walk yourself to a different mental middle-ground. Know Thyself.
Are you a perfectionist? Do you suffer with this ALL or NOTHING mindset? How will you protect yourself from perfectionism during the declutter challenge or whatever project you’re working on?