Prefectionism Gone Wrong

So I was watching an episode of hoarders (something about watching that show makes me capable of purging junk in my home and it needs it) and there was a very overweight woman who had just given up on cleaning her house. She would go through these spurts of wanting to get it perfect and working all night long and not ever be able to get it nearly clean so she just gave up.

It was obvious to me that she was a perfectionist who couldn't get things perfect so she just gave up on her home, which is probably exactly what happened in regard to her body as well.

Then I saw a reflection of myself in the tv, because I was sitting on the floor playing with Avi, and it suddenly occurred to me...Holy SHIT! That is me...that's exactly what I've done...

Even when I was younger and lost a bunch of weight, I thought I was horrifically fat...

There I am when I thought that. I was so not horrifically fat...

But since I worked so hard and still didn't feel good about myself, then all the hard work I had put in felt pointless. Why bother when I slave for months and am still fat and ugly? So I just gave up caring what other people thought of me.

That in and of itself is not a bad thing, but the fact that I don't feel good about myself at all anymore is. I'm pretty active so I'm not really in as horrible shape as I could be. But I'm getting older and sooner or later the effects of all this excess weight are going to catch up with me. Something has to be done...

But what?

So if we've established that I'm a perfectionist who will never be happy no matter what I do? Where do I go from there?

I've heard people comment that if a person knows the root of their problem then they should be able to solve it, "after all that is why people spend 1000s on therapy." But that is just so not true. I think I've figured out a large portion of my problem, and I have no idea where to go with it.


Amanda said…
I have the perfectionist bug myself, and it's only been in the last few years that I've come to realize that I don't have to be perfect. Good enough is fine.

So my house can't be photographed for a magazine layout at a minute's notice. That's okay. It's still worth it to pick up junk and run the vacuum over the floor, because I feel better when that's done, even if there's a layer of dust on the baseboards, the piano needs clearing off, etc.

And so I'm not 20 years old and model thin. That's fine. Because I'm 41, and if I still looked 20 I'd be a freak (or Demi Moore). Plus I like eating, and I refuse to stop what I enjoy. I just balance it with exercise (keeping moving as I age is mandatory, considering my family's arthritis history) and good nutrition.

Along with chocolate and peanut butter. Because life without either, for me? Is flatly unacceptable.

So all that to say... you'll figure it out. They're right that determining the root of the problem is half the battle. As for the second half, that just takes time :)
Lesley Speller said…
I should be clear that I do keep my house clean and relatively straight. It's messy, which is inevitable with three little kids, but I wouldn't be reported to child services or anything. hehe

My giving up is wholly body related.

Amanda, like you, I clean because it makes me feel better to be in a clean house than a dirty house. Now I just have to reprogram my brain to understand that I will feel better in a body that is relatively thin rather than ridiculously fat.
I'm so with you about watching episodes of Hoarders. That show definitely gets me going on a cleaning spree. That's a good thing for a reforming packrat!

As for perfectionism, it's highly overrated. I spent so many years striving to be perfect in every sense and only succeeded in making myself crazy because I finally realized perfectionism is fiction in its purest form.

Life is too short to spend it worrying about not being good enough, whether we’re talking about body perception, career, housekeeping, parenting, or anything else. Be yourself. Accept yourself. Love yourself.

Seriously, Lesley, you don’t really want to become perfect because then there’ll be nobody to hang out with, because all the rest of us are flawed. :)

BTW--thanks for commenting on my posts & FAQ!
Sandra said…
Baby steps? I don't have the answer. I think you're right: we all know what our various "issues" are. And it's much easier said than done to "fix" anything. I give you a lot of credit for writing this post.
PS: You looked gorgeous in that picture.
Lesley Speller said…
Daisy, I definitely don't want to be a perfectionist. I think it's genetically encoded in me. I've seen evidence of it in others in my genetic pool. Admittedly they come much closer to obtaining perfection. Probably part of the reason I gave up on it so completely.

Sandra, baby steps are definitely good. At least, I've come up with a tentative plan now. That's gotta be a good first step, right?

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