Perfectionism

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Snookiebookie

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Perfectionism
« on: February 28, 2019, 03:49:05 PM »
Hi all,

One of my biggest symptoms, and yet, one of my biggest triggers is perfectionism.  This is particularly a problem at work (work being my biggest challenge and biggest exposure).

It's kind of a catch 22 the way my perfectionism works when I am at work.  I am scared about not achieving enough and not being proactive enough, so I sometimes overreach myself.  I have to make sure I get everything done.  So because the work ebbs and flows I sometimes end up rushing.  Because I rush, I miss things and make mistakes.  Usually not big mistakes, mainly typos etc.  But sometimes, given the nature of my work, if I need to correct a mistake I also need to let a third party know, as their work is reliant on what I do.  So I can't just fix it, I have to tell them so we can sort it. 

The problem is that making mistakes is a big issue for me.  It confirms what my F used to say, and what my M inferred - I am useless.  I have got it all wrong.  So when I make a mistake, I am very triggered.  I feel instantly threatened.  And in the current job, I have to basically admit to the error too! Then I worry that they may complain to my boss about me and that I will get into trouble.

I know that perhaps I should slow down,  but that is difficult too.  There is a constant flow of work in each day, and I must at least keep pace with it - or it will overflow.  To make matters worse, they were in a horrible mess before I started.  So there are lots of mistakes that my predecessors made (which need correcting) and a big backlog to clear (which I will have to deal with whilst the work continues to come in).  So there is a constant juggling act with the work. 

As I was brought in to specifically deal with this problem, and feeling new, I don't feel able to complain.  I only work part time, and I don't want them replacing me with a full time person - or having to share my work (I would feel totally threatened by that).

In order to deal with all this I have tried a few of my old techniques.  I am keeping a list of worries - so I can park them.  I am currently leaving them on the list, and ticking them off when I know the threat has passed or the worry has gone.  If I get a big worry I have a worry tree worksheet I can use to work through to rationalize the anxiety.  However, at the moment if the worry keeps popping up, I am telling myself that it is on the list and I can stop worrying as I will look at the list later. 

I have also started my positive journal again.  I note down good/positive things through the day.  Similar to gratitude journal.  I found this useful in the past as I 'forget' or neutralize the good things that i achieve or that happen to me and it is useful to review at the end of the week.    It can very from just getting a smile from a friendly stranger to being praised by a work colleague.  But I log it through the week, to review later.   It's a good antidote when you have had a hard week or feel useless.

I have also started mindfulness again.  I am currently reading a book on self compassion - which I understand but really don't think I have experienced much compassion from my FOO.  I really think that self compassion is a big key in my recovery, but I am a bit stalled with it.  I just don't know how to be kind to myself.

The reason for this post is to ask you how you deal with your perfectionism.  Do you have any tips?

At work I feel that I find it hard to focus on things that matter (i.e. doing a job well) as I am consumed by other things, that often don't matter but tend to rule me (i.e. worries, flashback, ruminating, thinking about how others perceive me, worrying about what can go wrong).  This creates tension and stress and then I make mistakes as I am not focusing in the right place.   I suppose I am not really present - but then again, whilst I don't often full-on dissociate, I am never really 'here'.  I find it difficult to step out of my head - but that's the fear that keeps me trapped. I am scared I am going to be emotionally hurt and humiliated again.

Do you have any advice how I can calm down and focus better?   How can I slow down, without falling behind with work (which would be just as big a trigger)?

I did think about keeping a list of all the errors I made.  The idea was to see that I did not make many mistakes.  However, I am scared that if I did that then I would be upset if the list was long.   How many mistakes are acceptable?  How many mistakes do other people make?  Then I thought, I am overthinking this!   :fallingbricks:

Anyhow, I look forward to your comments.

Many thanks in advance

SB x  :cheer:

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Three Roses

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Re: Perfectionism
« Reply #1 on: February 28, 2019, 04:27:49 PM »
Hi! I love the idea of a positive-focused list of things you're proud of yourself for accomplishing - but speaking for myself, a list of errors I'd committed would terrify me and probably have the opposite of my intended outcome - I think just knowing that list existed somewhere would ultimately make me more error-prone.

I'm retired now but when I was working I would make a list of things I needed to accomplish. Some were short term ("ship the package") and some were long term ("work on report for department heads"). Because of my very spotty memory, I made a list of every important thing I did daily, for instance the opening and closing rituals, to make sure I did everything.

I also tried to remember that I was/am human and humans make mistakes.

Hope this was helpful -
 :heythere:

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artfox

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Re: Perfectionism
« Reply #2 on: March 11, 2019, 05:34:58 AM »
I call what you’re describing “spinning” when I do it. When it starts happening, I take a few deep, slow breaths to calm myself down. Sometimes I make lists to organize my thoughts. And I remind myself that I’m not launching rockets or doing surgery—any mistakes I make at work won’t be fatal. It helps me get focused enough to start on something.

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Kizzie

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Re: Perfectionism
« Reply #3 on: March 11, 2019, 07:21:16 PM »
I struggle with this as well Snookie , it seems endemic to CPTSD sadly.  I really like that you are looking at why you might be perfectionistic, how you might overcome it, and where you are struggling - all good when it comes to recovery!  :thumbup:   

One thing I thought of when I ready your post is something Pete Walker wrote about perfectionism and dealing with an overactive Inner Critic:

My perfectionism arose as an attempt to gain safety and support in my dangerous family. Perfection is a self-persecutory myth. I do not have to be perfect to be safe or loved in the present. I am letting go of relationships that require perfection. I have a right to make mistakes. Mistakes do not make me a mistake. Every mistake or mishap is an opportunity to practice loving myself in the places I have never been loved.

Link - http://pete-walker.com/shrinkingInnerCritic.htm.

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BeHea1thy

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Re: Perfectionism
« Reply #4 on: March 30, 2019, 03:23:30 PM »
Kizzie,

Thanks for Walker's link. I never saw it this way before.

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Kizzie

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Re: Perfectionism
« Reply #5 on: March 31, 2019, 05:14:43 PM »
I especially like this thought:  "Mistakes do not make me a mistake."

Mistakes did make me more vulnerable to shaming and soul crushing criticism, as though I were the mistake which is what I think you were writing about Snookie. No wonder we try so hard to be perfect.  We so need to learn to be kinder and gentler to ourselves and softer about what it means to be human.  :yes:

 :grouphug: