For years, I was a people-pleaser and never felt good enough. I focused on making others happy, avoiding or better being afraid of failure and criticism. Believe it or not, I was struggling with anxiety when I started working, back in 2011, and I was disappointed if I did not meet the expectations that the others had set for me. By the way, friendly advice, do not expect anything from anyone (this will save you time waiting). Hopefully, this was in the past. However, I must admit that I am still a perfectionist (just a little bit), but in a good way. I try to be the best version of myself, to support other people and bring their best version of themselves out, accept failure, try and fail, embrace positive feedback, respect my choices and listen to what others have to say. Perhaps you can relate.
Text by: Tanya Livarda
According to Cambridge Dictionary, perfectionism is “the wish for everything to be correct or perfect”. According to psychologists people-pleasing and perfectionism are efforts to prove your worth. It is like a fear that we are not good enough or the fear that if we do not please someone they will reject or abandon us. The same with perfection; it’s like you have to be always perfect for your family, friends, colleagues, and partners; otherwise nobody will like you or want you. Sometimes, it seems that what you do, it’s never enough for some people. But how about you? For the record, people-pleasing and perfectionism are impossible to achieve and reach, so why struggle, anyway?
Typically, a perfectionist sets high expectations of what they must achieve; no one told them that they have to, however. They expect excellence, but in a totally distorted way, and they feel like everything will be destroyed if someone makes a comment on themselves, or criticize them, either negatively or positively. And here comes people-pleasing. People pleasers try to find validation not from their own self but from other people and what other people think about them. And they think that if they do everyone’s favour, then they will have their approval and then their self-worth will appear. A quick example that came up straightaway is when we don’t want to do something and we eventually do it because we don’t want to disappoint our clients, parents, friends, colleagues, or partners. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean that we have to be selfish or lower our goals or standards, but to start loving ourselves and setting boundaries (my favourite).
Loving ourselves is one of the things that we can do in order to overcome perfectionism. Love our strengths, embrace our weaknesses, and accept that we are human beings and not robots that need to fulfill the tasks and go to bed at the end of the day. Constructive and relatable feedback can help in this sense. Taking some days off (from technology, friends, and even family) and spending time in nature also has calming effects. You can also do what pleases you. Physical exercise might be a good option as well. Accept who you are. Accept your weaknesses, accept your anxiety, accept your perfectionism, and bring its positive characteristics out according to your needs.
It’s so tiring and energy-consuming to please everyone! It also raises anxiety levels! Why not use this energy for something else? Just food for thought!