Most of us have a voice in our heads that says an emphatic ‘no’! ‘You need to do better, be stronger, try harder,’ this part of ourselves might say. ‘Nothing less than perfect will do.’
From an evolutionary perspective this drive to better ourselves and beat the competition makes sense. When it’s survival of the fittest we need to push ourselves to win. And the survival instinct can be a very good thing. It’s what helps us cope with trauma, come through childhood difficulties, bounce back from an illness or pass an exam. But this brilliant ability can go into overdrive. Stuck in fifth gear this urge leads to depression and burn-out because mistakes and breaks are simply not allowed.
If this sounds like familiar territory, then you might be a perfectionist. It’s very common! And it’s something that people often work through in counselling. Therapy gives us a chance to question whether we need to push ourselves quite so hard or judge ourselves quite so harshly. We can also explore why we’ve developed this way of being – perhaps we were brought up to believe that mistakes were not allowed? Or maybe we’ve adapted to disappointments by blaming ourselves? We can all begin to nurture a kinder voice inside ourselves that is more tolerant of our failings. We are human. Perhaps, even with our mistakes and inadequacies, we are ok after all.