Differences between balance and perfectionism:
|Is willing to be wrong||Is always being right|
|Involves taking risk||Is fearful|
|Is empowering||Is anger and frustration|
|Allows spontaneity||Is control|
|Is accepting||Implies judgment|
|Is generous||Is lacking in abundance|
|Builds confidence||Creates doubt|
|Is grey||Is black and white|
|Takes us on a journey||Is a destination|
Sometimes when we don’t feel good enough, we create imbalance by overachieving or needing to be the best at something. Overachievers are people who have achieved but still feel the need to do more, creating an imbalance in their lives. People who exhibit this behavior may be trying to compensate for feelings of insecurity and doubts about their worth.
If we find that we cannot enjoy our accomplishments, never feel satisfied when we have done our very best, push ourselves beyond the point of exhaustion, or to the exclusion of important people in our lives then we are robbing ourselves of true and meaningful joy.
I was a child of extremes. Everything was love or hate. There was no middle ground. Someone once said, of all the people I met two percent would like me no matter what I did, two percent would dislike me no matter what, and the rest would be largely indifferent.” This introduces the concept of balance. Because experiences may have been of extreme emotions or anesthetized feelings the challenge is to balance our lives and accept the many variations of color and texture that life presents. Instead of living forever, in black and white, find the rainbow within yourself.
We can learn to use self-knowledge for personal growth rather than further self-abuse.
- What are the underlying beliefs surrounding the need to be perfect?
- Are these beliefs supporting you or limiting you?
- Can you discern between perfectionistic behavior and wanting to be your most excellent self?
- Are your goals attainable?
- Are you willing to be happy with the results if you have done your best?
- Is your life balanced? Are you looking at your life as a whole or are you judging yourself on one aspect of your being?
- Are you balancing work, play, private and family time?
- Can you put the energy that you have been devoting to a phantom sense of achievement into truly satisfying aspects of your life?
- Do you think it is reasonable to expect anyone or anything to be perfect?
As coaches, the challenge then is to move the client from over-reaching and overachieving, setting unattainable goals and avoiding feelings of frustration and constant disappointment.
Finding balance can give the client a sense of safety and connectedness to others. We can shift their perspective from one of needing to be perfect to one of being satisfied with their efforts and being their most excellent selves.
The coach provides a safe and confidential space to explore the underlying beliefs associated with the clients need for perfectionism.
These beliefs probably stem from family of origin issues, such as not feeling good enough and feeling as though they always have to prove themselves at any cost. Feelings of unworthiness and low self -esteem can drive a lot of this behavior. As coaches we can challenge these beliefs by focusing on past successes and accomplishments and building confidence in the client.
Creating self-awareness by asking powerful questions the client can gain insight into where the imbalance in their life is. A good example of this is the imbalance in their personal and professional lives. How much time are you spending at work? How much time are you devoting to family time?
Examining prior and present goals to determine how attainable they are enables the coach and the client to set new and more realistic ones in order to avoid frustration and the disappointment that ensues. How much responsibility is truly mine? Am I taking on more than I can handle?
Encouraging the client to take small steps and to recognize their achievements along the way helps them to enjoy the process instead of only focusing on the end result.
Goals for achieving balance:
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- Balance our professional life and our personal life.
- Find balance between emotions and reason.
- Balance caring about others and caring for our selves.
- Balance being good to others with being good to our selves.
- Balance responsibilities to others with responsibilities to ourselves
- Balance giving and receiving.
- Balance thought and feelings.
- Balance caring for our physical self and our spiritual self.
Actions that move us from perfectionism to balance:
The power of positive thinking. “I am good enough”.
Incorporate spirituality into daily living.
- Choose humor
Laugh at yourself.
- Find fun activities
Find and nurture the child within.
- Do nothing
Less is more. Stop and smell the roses.
- Avoid extremes
Extremes create stress.
Settle for less than perfection in things that don’t matter, leaving more energy for what does matter.
There may be times when we need to climb mountains at work or put extra energy into relationships. But the overall picture needs to balance. Just as a balanced nutritional diet takes into account the realm of our nutritional needs to stay healthy, a balanced life takes into account all our needs: our needs for friends, work, love, family, play, private time, and spiritual time. We need to listen to our inner voice; it will tell us when we are out of balance.
Ann W. Smith, M.S. Overcoming Perfectionism. Health Communication, Inc. 1990