Perfectionism, Motherhood and MeNov 17, 2022
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Today, I’m getting a little personal and sharing my story of perfectionism - how I realized I was struggling with it in the first place, where it came from, what it looked like in my life and some of the strategies I’ve used to get out of my own perfectionism.
Of course, I’m also talking about how it relates to being a mom and what happens when we, as women and mothers, try to do everything perfectly.
What perfectionism looks like
For a long time, I didn’t identify as a perfectionist. I thought I was someone who just gets stuff done. But it turned out that getting everything done all the time was what I wanted to be perfect at.
What that meant for me is when I didn't do all the things that I had said I was going to do (either commitments to myself or others), I would feel like absolute shit. Even if I was sick. If there was something I couldn’t get done, I felt terrible.
And then I would use that crappy feeling to push myself to be more and more productive.
Not that long ago, I realized that I actually wasn’t okay. And I wasn’t okay with beating myself up this way.
I would wake up in the morning feeling pressure, feeling like I was already behind, immediately running through in my mind all the things I had to do.
I thought that getting it all done is what would make me feel better. When really, I was using productivity as a coping strategy for my own insecurity.
Where perfectionism comes from
Perfectionism is a coping strategy. The root of it will be a little different for everyone, and figuring it out starts with curiosity.
I developed this strategy early in life to cope with a difficult childhood.
I was worried that if I didn’t get everything on my list done, people would be mad at me. I felt like I was one mistake away from full abandonment by everyone who was important to me. And I felt so much responsibility for everybody else's emotions towards me.
I was trying to keep myself safe from being left or hurt.
This pressure is also built into our society. We’re taught that sacrifice is a virtue, especially in motherhood. That the best mom is also the most tired mom. And that our value is based on how we perform.
The problem with perfectionism
There's this pressure on women to do it all, do it all well, and smile while you're doing it.
It breaks my heart.
My coping strategy of high productivity was hurting me. It was putting so much pressure on me. The overplanning, checklists and hyperproductivity were a way to protect myself from the feeling that I wasn’t safe, good enough or lovable. It was like my drug.
But I didn't want that pressure anymore. I wanted to find a way to feel lovable, worthy, relaxed and peaceful.
I wanted to be free. I wanted to love myself and trust myself. And I didn't want to keep using that old coping skill of shoving it down and getting it all done.
I wanted to explore the question, “Even if I don’t do everything, can I still be okay?”
What I’ve learned about myself is that I am not a lazy, horrible, mean person - even when I’m not doing all the things.
I’m still really lovable, and my family and friends still care about me. I'm not as at risk of abandonment and rejection as I thought I was.
I also learned that even if I don't follow my own rules of life for days at a time, I still don’t become my worst fear. I still take care of myself, work hard and achieve goals.
I realized that when I listen to my body, my heart and soul, when I take excellent care of myself…the pressure lessens, or even goes away.
Because I know that I can trust myself even if I don't follow my own list of rules one day. I’m not a lost cause. I can just give myself what I need and get back to my goals the next day. When I care for myself, I have more capacity to be productive later.
This is what self care really has become for me - deep listening and deep trust, letting go of that pressure to be perfect.
I’ve also identified different tools to help me cope with my insecurity, anxiety or overwhelm. Things like taking a walk, reading, going to the beach with my kids, calling a friend or just laying down.
I hope my story will help you in your own journey toward deeper self love, self acceptance, and self trust.
You are worthy of love and have the right to call yourself a good mom, no matter how your kids behave.
You're worthy of love and have the right to call yourself a good mom, even if you prioritize your wellbeing over your children's schedule, diet, schoolwork, sports events, social life, and whatever else society tells you is the most important thing.
You are worthy of love purely because you're here in the world right now.
- Why perfectionism is so common with moms - and how it’s hurting us
- How our society pressures us to do it all
- What I’ve learned through my own struggle with perfectionism
- Strategies to find more peace and self love
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- Join the conversation: Opt Out & Stop People Pleasing So You Actually Enjoy This Holiday Season
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There is enough pressure on moms to begin with, but then you add the holidays. Every time you walk into a store, you're reminded that you're supposed to be decorating and sending holiday cards and getting new outfits and buying presents.
What would happen this holiday season if you decided that you're worthy of love? If you believed that you don't need to earn anybody’s love or appreciation, including your own?
If you believed that you didn't have to do anything extra, what would you opt out of? What would you say no to? And what would you say yes to? What would you do if there were no rules or no expectations?
These are the topics I'm exploring in my upcoming event, Say No To Holiday Burnout.
It's okay to make your life work for you. It's okay to not do everything perfectly, or to get everything perfectly done. It's okay to be honest with yourself about what capacity you have and just do that.
I'm going to help you understand where this holiday pressure comes from in the first place, what it is you actually want and give you the tools to make that happen.