So.. Ok.. Here we go. I’m a bit of a perfectionist. Wait, I’m not saying it right; I’m a perfectionist. In my corporate job I would double-check if the outlining of text boxes in a presentation were done appropriately. When I handed over a paper in university it was always with a feeling of unease, even when the same paper came back with an A. And I still see myself baking a triple caramel cheescake from Ottolenghi for my birthday, which took me half a day. I could not serve a simple cake, right?
What would be wrong with perfectionism if it would lead to outstanding performance? In some ways it has it’s advantages, but perfectionism can paralyse. Better not to produce anything, if it’s not going to be a-ma-zing.
When I was five years old I had an untouched colouring picture that I loved so dearly that I put it on top of a cabinet in the living room. Every once in a while I glanced at it. Checked if it was there, had it in my hands and considered colouring it. More than once, I put it back and decided to wait for the right moment. When my colouring skills would be better. What happened? My sister found it, and put her toddler scratches all over it. I was very upset. Apparently waiting for the right moment when my pencils were perfectly sharpen and I got in my perfect colouring flow, was a foolish strategy. An opportunity can pass when you are waiting for the perfect moment; a valuable lesson for a 5-year old.
The perfection theme popped up when I discussed it with my own coach.
Me: ‘I’m not posting my blogs, and I’m bummed out about it’
He: ‘Why is that?’
Me: ‘I know exactly why. I’m afraid they might not be good enough. And that people just don’t like them’.
He: ‘Who decides it’s good enough?
Me; ‘Uh..yeah.. well..’
With a sigh I made a note in my notebook. And it said: RET.
After the session I took out my RET guide out again. The first important takeaway of Ratio Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT) or Ratio Emotive Therapy (RET) is that we all have ineffective beliefs which can go from; ‘If this happens it will be way to difficult for me to handle’, to; ‘If that happens no one will ever like me’, or; ‘I must never make mistakes’. In my case my ineffective belief was: ‘I must write a blog that is perfect’. Second takeaway is that we are able to change our ineffective beliefs.
After you recognised the belief, you start with questioning the belief. In my case:
– Where is the evidence for that your blogs have to be perfect? (Can’t really say..)
– Why would it be awful if your blogs wouldn’t be perfect? (I guess not..)
– Is it realistic for your blogs to be perfect? (No..)
– Will the blogs get better if I think like this? (No..)
And then you replace the ineffective belief with a more realistic one; ‘I’d like my blogs to be perfect, but that’s just not very likely to happen. And I’m not able to influence what people think of them. What I can do is to write something that I believe is interesting and use my own voice to bring the message across.’
You see the difference?
The fact that you are reading this shows the effect of my ‘new’ belief; it resulted in action.
Simple, right? Easy? Not so much. It takes time and repetition to change beliefs. A couple of coaching sessions can be of great help when you want to create more effective beliefs. Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you’d like to discuss the possibility!
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