A Solution (Un)fit For a Perfectionist’s Crisis
Let’s say you’re the usual type of perfectionist, working yourself to the bone, pulling insanely long work hours. You’re up to date with the best in your field, you review and polish your work about 100,000 times before you consent to release it in the world (still doubting its value).
You know, your average perfectionist Joe (or Jane), working with all systems up at 150% capacity for most of the time.
All of a sudden, you crash.
You shift through the million tasks you set for yourself for a ridiculous time frame and hardly manage to accomplish one. (Taking seven times longer than usual.)
Your clarity and fluency are gone, and everything you read from other sources seems aeons away in brilliance from what you are capable of uttering. Everybody seems way more intelligent, creative and productive than you.
And what is worse, all your efforts go unnoticed. All the work you pour your heart, soul and blood into is lost in an ocean of anonymity. Nobody seems to want it, and nobody seems to care.
You doubt that you’ll ever get the results you want, your capability to achieve them and your worth as a human being in general.
So what can you do when you feel your whole world collapsing, and there’s not a soul in sight? Because let’s be honest, available friends when you need them are quite a scarce commodity these days.
Baron Munchhausen’s Solution
Well, the old school of hardcore would say something like “Suck it up, you’re not the only one”, or “What’s the big deal, nobody cares anyway”, so basically, “Don’t be such a baby”.
Others, in the self-empowerment industry, would probably go along the lines of: “You just need to find some motivation” or “Why don’t you use positive affirmations”. The modern day’s version of Baron Munchhausen’s solution. Who’s that gentleman you ask?
He was a fictional German character of the 1785 book “The Surprising Adventures of Baron Munchausen”. He always bragged about his unbelievable adventures, like riding on a cannonball, fighting a forty-foot crocodile, and travelling to the Moon.
The solution I mentioned above comes from one of his fantastic tales, where he managed to get himself out of a swamp by pulling himself by his hair. It amazes me how, after so many years, we sometimes still believe that’s a valid solution, that heroic exploits are the best – and only- miracle cure for every problem.
But what if this is not helping you to get out, because, if anything, the perfectionist already knows how to soldier through difficulties?
If you’re a man, you might go out for a drink, jump in the gym and punch some training bags or find other ways to cope, like sex, alcohol, drugs, etc.
If you’re a woman and you feel so lonely your soul screams in agony, juggling all your tasks you might find a bit of time to do some journalling till you sob uncontrollably. Slam shut the diary/laptop and decide to weep properly, puffy eyes and all. Cry till you feel so exhausted you fall asleep for a couple of hours (or three or four), and when you wake up, you feel a little better.
Sometimes that’s all you needed, to take all your fears out in the open, let them play havoc for a while with your emotions, then you’re good to go, fresh as a daisy.
Other times, although you feel a bit better and the pressure subsided, you’re not entirely out of the woods. You might even need to cycle back through those phases few times.
If you’re lucky enough, you eventually find a friend with which you can vent. If not, you take your dog out and do your best to sort things out through introspection, meditation or other techniques you’ve learned.
And sometimes – a lot of times, unfortunately- people crash and burn. You drown in despair and stop any effort, convinced it’s all useless because you are a perfect waste of space on the face of this earth anyway.
Your beautiful message, the work dear to your heart? Pointless. The skills and talents others admire? Rubbish, nothing but average. Because it’s obvious that everybody else is and does so much better than you.
So you give up?
Don’t. Hear me out, please.
Stop, rest, take some distance.
When you’re so close to an obstacle your face is stuck to it you see it way bigger than it actually is. And because of this, you might miss the minor change in your strategy that can dramatically improve your results.
Also, try rescheduling the million tasks and allow them a larger period of time more suited to, you know, human beings. When you’ve outstretched yourself – even doing the work you like to do – you need to rest, plain and simple.
You don’t think your car is bad, stupid or not good enough because the petrol level indicator shows empty, right? No, you would only fill the tank. Why would you treat your body any different? (- not suggesting you have some petrol too, mind you)
And if you rested, changed the strategy but still feel lonely and useless and you’ve read so far, I’m here for you.
I’ll open the space where you can share, and I’ll listen to your story, fears and struggles. I’ll be the mirror where you’ll see the qualities you’ve dismissed or diminished. The friend who encourages and believes in you, even when you stopped doing it.
Because we all need to be reminded now and then that we are important. That we matter. That we are valuable and worthy. Until we remember who we are.
I’m here for you.
Is Fear Of Being Judged Running Your Life?
Perfectionists R US
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