Do you strive to do better, yet often fall short? Do you want to improve, yet frequently feel a failure? Do you pay close attention to detail and want to get things right, but often feel that you’re not good enough?
If this sounds familiar, perhaps you’re struggling with perfectionism? Perfectionists are never happy with what they achieve. After all, they can always do better and will often experience feelings of failure. In part, this is because the goals set are often unrealistic and many times, impossible to reach. Some characteristics of perfectionists are: –
- Viewing mistakes as failures
- Holding high, unrealistic goals
- Spending excessive amounts of time planning or redoing work in an attempt to make it perfect
- Being risk adverse unless “success” is guaranteed
- Feedback or criticism is feared
- Can find it difficult to adapt if plans do not go the way they anticipated.
Could It Be a Good Thing?
Of course, perfectionism can be seen as a strength, enabling some to produce high quality work. This work is done with a laser like focus and attention to detail. These can be valuable attributes. Yet when the consequences of imperfection are small, or we need to deliver something that is “good enough”, then perfectionist tendencies can be unhelpful and even harmful.
So for many, having high standards and striving for excellence is a good thing. In fact, these characteristics are encouraged in elite sports people, so they can train long and hard to reach excellence. But perfectionism for some involves setting impossible standards and judging that anything short of this standard is terrible. Holding such high standards makes it easy to believe that minor imperfections are catastrophic. Can you imagine going through life believing that you should never make a mistake?
Doing it Differently
Therefore, why not consider the standards you use, and how you judge yourself. Would it help to relax these standards and ease the stress and anxiety of trying so hard to be perfect? Or does even the thought of relaxing your standards elicit fear and anxiety?
What Can Help?
Recognise Perfectionism – there is nothing wrong with having high standards, but if these standards are too high, they can get in the way of your work or career, relationships, and life.
Realistic Thinking – replace self-critical or perfectionistic thoughts with more realistic statements. For example, “nobody is perfect”, “all I can do is my best”, “making a mistake is not catastrophic, its human”.
Looking at the Big Picture – perfectionists tend to get bogged down in details and worry a great deal about the small or little things.
Setting Realistic Standards – although I would like to be employee of the year, is that reasonable in my first year?
Do you feel like you’ve fooled others about your accomplishments and it’s only a matter of time before you’re exposed as a fraud? Perhaps your success is all down to “luck” and you don’t really deserve it? Maybe you’ve felt like you’re pretending to be an adult who is capable of raising a child or buying a home, but really you’re only faking it.
Many experience self-doubt, but if you regularly and persistently have a fear of being exposed as a “fraud”, despite evidence to the contrary such as your education, experience and accomplishments, imposter syndrome might be lurking.
To reduce or counter these feelings, you might end up working harder, holding yourself to even higher standards, eventually risking burnout.
As KlearMinds Director, Maggie Morrow puts it:-
“You have a fear that the people around you are going to realise that you’re not competent at what you do and expose you as a fraud”.
So although colleagues and friends may be praising you, you write off your successes and put them down to timing and/or luck. You don’t believe you’ve earned them and you fear others will eventually realise this too.
Imposter Syndrome can be seen at:
- Work – any success is attributed to “luck” rather than ability and working hard. You may also feel pressure to over work in your attempts to achieve the impossible.
- Home – feeling uncertain, inexperienced and totally unprepared for certain situations, such as parenting. It may lead to a reluctance in making decisions for fear of messing up.
- School – students may hold back and avoid speaking up for fear that others will see they are ignorant.
- Relationships – some may feel unworthy of another’s affection and that their partner will discover how ordinary they are.
This is exhausting – living in fear of being exposed or discovered as a fraud will ensure that high levels of anxiety become the norm.
So what can we do to overcome imposter syndrome:-
- Recognise when you’re experiencing imposter feelings. These are feelings, not facts. Just because you feel these feelings doesn’t mean they’re true. Remind yourself that you’re competent and often do know what you’re talking about.
- Note your accomplishments. When you’re having imposter moments, remind yourself of what you’ve achieved. Look at the card that your child made you which told you what a wonderful parent you are; revisit the email that your boss sent you thanking you for your excellent work.
- Avoid and Stop Comparing. Look at your own achievements rather than comparing with others. Social Media means we are surrounded by other people’s lives and their achievements. Don’t go there.
- Talk to Others. Talking to somebody who knows you can offer support. They can help normalise your feelings and confirm your achievements.
- Talk to a therapist. A therapist can help you recognise and work through these feelings and offer tips and techniques for managing them.
Have you ever experienced rejection? Whether it’s in love, with friends or at work, it sure feels bad. Didn’t get that promotion you thought was as good as in the bag? Had the ‘it’s just not working’ conversation with your other half? Not getting what you want can leave you feeling hurt and hollowed out and wondering if there’s something wrong with you.
But isn’t rejection part of normal life? Everyone gets turned down at some point for something or other. While you may feel disheartened at the time, it’s how you deal with the situation that can help you bounce back sooner rather than later. In fact, how you handle rejections may well be the key to ultimately achieving the goal you are after.
We’ve put together 5 top tips to help you cope with rejection.
1. Don’t take it personally
While it may feel like a personal blow at the time, it’s important not to let the rejection penetrate your inner defences. Say you didn’t get the job or the girlfriend – it was your request that was denied, that’s all. Try not to personalise it and seek fault within yourself – you’re not responsible for the choices others made. Whatever they decided is no judgement on you as a person or any indication of your self-worth. Respect the fact that they rejected something that wasn’t working for them, and move on.
2. Get a new perspective
Every time you experience a rejection in your personal or professional life, try to reframe it as something that focuses attention on the situation or the issue in question, rather than something that attacks you as a person. Instead of feeling that “they rejected me”, why not simply think of it as something “they said no” to or even that “it just wasn’t meant to be”. That way, there’s no blame to be attached and the rejection isn’t framed as something negative about yourself.
3. Practise some self-care
If you’re in the doldrums because you just got fired, dumped or turned down, it’s important not to be too hard on yourself. Make an extra effort to think positive thoughts, give yourself a pep talk and tell your inner critic to be quiet. Better still, back up your kind thoughts with kind actions. Why not take your mind off the rejection and do something you love? Go for a cycle ride or join a gym, treat yourself to a new hairstyle or redecorate the bedroom, meet up with friends or go on holiday – whatever makes you happy!
4. Use the opportunity to improve
Sometimes, a rejection can be just the wake-up call you need to make positive changes in your life. Rather than focusing on your sorrow or misery, why not use the ‘negative feedback’ as an opportunity to reassess your current situation and find ways improve? Whether you decide to go back to work after a failed marriage, or enrol in professional development courses up after redundancy, try to view your rejection in a constructive way as an instrument for learning and personal growth.
5. Accept it for what it is
Finally, once you understand the rejection you received for what it is, there’s no point dwelling on it. Stuff happens, things don’t always work out the way you think they should, and that’s OK. Don’t let the ‘thing’ control your life for any longer than necessary – it’s time to break free, let it go and get on with your life, not stay tethered to the past.
If you’ve experienced a rejection and are finding it hard to move beyond the hurt, counselling may help. At KlearMinds, our expert counsellors have helped many people overcome a range of concerns over the years. Take the first steps to lasting change and call 0333 772 0256 or email us here.
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Self-confidence provides the foundation for
a happy and fulfilled life.
It helps us achieve goals. It enables us to feel comfortable in our own skin and in relationships with others. Without self-confidence, life’s challenges can leave us feeling stuck, frustrated, anxious and even depressed.
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In this post we feature an infographic
that covers in a light hearted way
the topic of “understanding and improving
your self confidence.