The 5 Things You Need to Start Saying to Yourself

I’ve got ‘perfectionism’ like it’s a disease. I put an extraordinary amount of unnecessary pressure on myself for no clear reason. Worst of all, I’ve discovered that it holds me back far more than it ever propels me forward. I’ve wasted time, been in bad moods on wonderful occasions, missed opportunities and deadlines ‒ all because something or I wasn’t ‘perfect’.

I'm not alone. Many women suffer from 'perfectionism'. You know, feeling guilty for every bad thing that ever happens in the world? Pressuring yourself to be the perfect mum / wife / girlfriend / partner / sister / daughter / friend /colleague / customer / neighbour? Beating yourself up when you say or do 'the wrong thing'? Yep. You know.  

A couple of months ago I was talking to one of my fabulous friends who was so stressed out that she was starting to lose her hair. Upset that she was putting so much pressure on herself, I began telling her to "go easy on herself", that "she was doing her best" and "it was OK" to not do everything. Then it hit me. Not only was I exactly the same, but I was a hypocrite. I was giving her advice that a) I don’t give to myself and b) I don’t ever use.

So I decided to take my very own advice and tell myself the same things I say to my girlfriend. It's hard advice to take, but it helps. And if you're a fellow 'perfectionism' sufferer, you should try it too.

1. “It’s OK”

It’s OK to make a mistake, it’s OK if you forget something, it’s OK to say no. If it's an instance when you would say it to a friend, say it yourself.


2. “I’m doing my best”

I’ve no doubt you are. Remind yourself that you’re only goddamn human and you’re working yo ass off.

3. “Done is better than perfect”

This is so hard to do, but so true. Sheryl Sanberg, Facebook’s COO, lives by this and she’s right. Sometimes you need to just get it done. Submit that piece of work, press send on that email, post that Instagram pic. Be proud that it's finished. (For instance, I could stress that this blog post isn’t perfect ‒ but instead I’m just going to post it and give myself a pat on the back.)

4. “I don’t have to do this if I don’t want to”

My boyfriend never does anything he doesn’t want to (unless it’s something I want him to do, then he has to pretend he wants to do it). But if he doesn’t feel like going to drinks with the boys, he says no. If he wants to go home early, he leaves. If he’s too sick to go to work, he doesn’t go. He doesn’t worry if he'll upset someone or if he’s letting people down. And neither should we. (I realise this is easier said than done, so if you need a bit of help, read Sarah Knight’s The life-changing magic of not giving f*ck.)

5. “Let it go”

My boss has taken to singing Frozen’s ‘Let it go’ at me when she thinks I’m over-worrying. At first it annoyed me even more, and I started justifying why I shouldn’t let it go. Then I realised how stupid I was being. Then I started worrying about how defensive I'd been. Then I started worrying about how much I was worrying. So I do know that ‘letting it go’ is hard AF, but take baby steps. Start by writing down everything you’re worrying about. Often writing it down allows you to, well, ‘let it go’.

Is there is anything you say to yourself when perfectionism gets the better of you?