You know the saying: “if something’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well”? That’s all well and good, and I completely understand the reasoning behind it – do your best in everything you do. BUT my brain has to take it to a whole new level.
My brain, instead, reads this as: “Everything you do has to be done well, or it’s not worth doing” – only a change of word order, but a completely different meaning. And a different interpretation of the word “well”, which here (in my brain) means perfectly, rather than the intended definition (to the best of one’s ability.)
This whole perfectionism thing is really becoming a problem. I notice it when I become stressed, and I occasionally catch myself thinking these thoughts (“It won’t be perfect so don’t bother” etc.) For example, I went to the gym yesterday. This may be seen as an achievement – I managed to go, and tire myself out, I went by myself, and I went because I told myself I should – not because of anyone else. This should be a no-brainer – a win for the elephant, but it wasn’t.
Whilst at the gym, I caught myself comparing myself to other people – “I will never be as fast as her”, “or as thin as her”, “or as good looking as her” – comparisons I shouldn’t make because they only cause further negativity. And by the time I finished my work out, completely exhausted and red in the face, I was greeted by these niggling thoughts in my mind – “You should’ve done more”, “You should be fitter”, “You aren’t good enough”, “You look like s-“, instead of feeling a sense of achievement, I felt like a failure. It wasn’t good enough, so why do I bother?
Another thing I feel this with is my blog. I like writing my blog, and I’m so glad to have met all the wonderful people I have met so far, but the negativity seems to follow me around, even here. “No one wants to read what you have to say” my brain tells me, “That’s why no one bothers to read it anymore”, “They are sick of your whining”, “You may as well quit, you aren’t succeeding…”
I know it doesn’t really matter whether people read my blog. I think it’s more that people DID used to read it, and the number of views is ever dwindling now. I haven’t been writing as much, I haven’t been reading and commenting as much either, because I haven’t been feeling great. But these things are not taken into account by the horrible negative creature which resides in my brain.
Everything I do seems to consist of constant questioning in my mind – “Is it good enough?”, “Is it PERFECT?”, “Is it the best?”
Realistically, I can’t do everything right, I can’t do everything perfectly, I can’t be the best at everything (or in fact, anything) but that doesn’t stop my thoughts. Rational thinking doesn’t come into it. “Is it 100%?” “No.” “Then why not?” That’s my thought pattern.
It’s really quite stressful living like this. And there’s so much pressure (from myself) to succeed, that it puts me off trying things. Then, when I feel good, I take on too much – but I have to succeed in everything that I take on (even if there’s too much) and it becomes more stressful, then I feel worse, can’t do everything, thus feel like a failure, and end up not wanting to do anything… It’s a stupid, messed up cycle, and I need to break out of it. Maybe counselling or something could help me get out of this perfectionist mindset.
I guess I’ve never really failed at anything, and I am under pressure to keep that up. I want people to be proud of me, to think I’m doing well, and above all, to think I’m coping. Because, hey – if you are succeeding in everything you do, you must be fine – right?