10 Signs You're A Perfectionistall-or-nothing anxiety authenticity control failure perfectionist sabotage self-awareness Sep 27, 2021
Maybe you’ve already got some awareness around your own perfectionism. Or, maybe you're someone who doesn’t resonate with that word at all.
Either way, I’d live to invite you to read this with curiosity, and an open-mind, and if you catch yourself saying “I know this”, give yourself a chance to read it with fresh eyes and see what you can learn about yourself.
One of my goals through my work is to bring a heightened, healthy self-awareness to ourselves (take the self-awareness style quiz). This means bringing curiosity and consciousness to things like people pleasing, perfectionism, and authenticity.
As humans we have a choice to operate these like a dial.
Sometimes the default is to react subconsciously without awareness and then feel like a victim to the results we don’t want. Or when we get results, we tend to feel like we can’t hold on to them. We think it was pure luck, it won’t last, it’s fleeting, or worse: that something bad will now happen.
(Bear with me as I generalize throughout the article. There’s such an array of people reading I can’t possible speak to everyone’s personal story, circumstances, privilege, or associations.)
By bringing conscious awareness to our habits, triggers, behaviors, and patterns, we can start to bring in discernment and move towards the change we want to see.
This is important because I don’t believe we need to vilify perfectionism, people pleasing or inauthenticity. I believe sometimes we can choose those things and not lose ourselves in the process. When we bring conscious awareness to it we can own why and what we’re doing we're empowering vs. victimizing ourselves. And that’s the distinct difference.
What’s interesting is I’ve found with some clients (and this was true for me, too) is they don’t resonate with being a “perfectionist”. I used to think “I don’t try to be perfect” and I could give examples of things I do imperfectly and be totally unbothered by.
Then I learned what traits tend to go with perfectionists and I realized I ticked all the boxes.
Maybe that’s you?
I’ll share with you some of the tell-tale signs that show up when we feel this subconscious pull to perfectionism and we don’t even realize we’re doing it:
10 Tell-Tale Signs:
1. You’re unnecessarily hard on yourself and very “judgey” with yourself and others.
2. You call yourself an “all-or-nothing person”.
3. Failing feels incredibly vulnerable so you avoid it all costs by playing it safe and small.
Making mistakes in front of others feel vulnerable you secretly worry everyone / someone will “find out” what you’ve been “hiding” all along: shame, that you were never good enough, smart enough, not enough in some way.
4. You compare yourself to others. You overthink and over analyze to death.
5. You prioritize efficiency over intuition, flow, or what you want to do. “Work hard, play later” concept – but you rarely or never let yourself “play”.
6. You try to control things out of your control: what other people think and do
7. You’re rigid and controlling with what you can control: your schedule, your routines, your appearance, your work ethic and feel panicked when things are out of order
8. You’re transactional vs relational with others. You get right to the point, you don’t like wasting time you’re often told your abrupt.
9. In your effort to be efficient you forget your humanity.
10. You place all value on the outcome and results vs. the journey. The process, growth or development aren’t adequate results – you need hard-core tangible results to make it worth it.
Maybe you heard yourself in one or more of those examples. I know I’m still working on some.
Once we know what + why around what we’re doing. We can look at it with curiosity and ask “where does it motivate me and where does it sabotage me?” and use it as a tool rather than it controlling you.
Acknowledge, Witness and Reflect
How do we bring more conscious awareness to these subconscious tendencies that are so ingrained in us? We need to build our self-awareness muscle. I did an entire season on this on the Brain Boss Podcast Season 3 if you want to check it out and you can take my Self-Awareness Style Quiz to learn your personal self-awareness style and hit the ground running.
Then something magical happens. The moment we look at something it shifts. So much of our own healing starts with just acknowledgment of what’s going on. Being a witness to our own experience or having someone else witness us. It’s a gateway to understanding, compassion, acceptance, and forgiveness.
We can ask ourselves:
1. How is this trait hurting me?
2. How is it secretly benefiting me?
3. What’s the cost?
Medicine for Perfectionists
For many of us the roots of perfectionism runs deep and are intertwined with worthiness so it doesn’t always feel “safe” to our systems to let go of these habits.
Awareness is an incredible tool for healing. But there’s other daily practices we can adopt to help:
Signals two very important elements: when we can tap into curiosity we shift from judgement.
When we’re able to be curious, our nervous system feels “safe”. If you experience this feeling of being in fight/flight a lot of the time, curiosity can feel very soothing, energizing, and exciting.
Spend time doing something that doesn’t require an outcome. Do something simply because it’s “fun” or feels “playful”. When you do it, you lose sense of time, you get completely lost in the act of it. You’re completely present with what you’re doing. You don’t do it for a result, you do it simply because you like it.
Find moments to “safely fail”, be vulnerable, and tell the truth
Instead of pretending you’ve got it all together, find a trusted person to confide that you need help.
Tell the truth: be honest about what you’re capable of and when. Be honest about where you need to grow. Be honest when you need extra help and know your audience; be discerning who you ask. Can they hold space for you? Can you trust them?
Hi, I'm Jen
The theme of my work is reminding us how and where we can regain our own power and control: our beliefs, mindset, thoughts, feelings, behaviors and actions in order to live a more aligned, authentic life.
There’s so much in life we can’t control. When we focus on that we can feel victimized; and when we feel victimized, it’s hard to pursue or reach our goals, it’s hard to be happy, it’s harder to be safely authentic. If you’ve ever felt like a martyr that will resonate for you.
So as often as possible, let’s shift focus to where we can. That agency can be incredibly liberating when we’ve people pleased or worried about perfection all our lives.
Craving more authenticity?
Interested in applying for Making Space (the course)? Apply Here.
Jen Pillipow, Rapid Transformational Therapist, Cl.Hyp
P.S. I can't teach you how to be authentic, but I can help you bring awareness to the obstacles blocking your own authenticity so you can bring your authentic self to your work, life, and relationships.
Follow me on Instagram @jenpillipow
This blog post was written and created on traditional lands referred to as Treaty 6 Territory encompassing the traditional territories of numerous First Nations, including the Cree and Métis homeland. If you're not sure whose land you're on, I invite you to get curious by visiting native-land.ca.
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A Subconscious Coach teaching others the tools to explore the layers protecting their authenticity.