26 Apr Perfectionism: Excessive Worries About What Others Think vs Healthy Striving for Excellence

Trudy Jacobsen | Perfectionism

It’s only natural to feel a bit of worry about what others think of you. Especially when you’ve possibly got a snag of broccoli sticking out of your teeth or you forgot to wash your jeans before casual Friday at work.

Yet, aside from mouth-invading vegetation and dirty pants, this sort of worry should be few and far between.

Except that, for many people, it’s not.

Excessive worries about what others think of you can easily overwhelm your life—even stop your dreams, goals, and pursuits.

However, there is a fine line between this debilitating worry and a healthy striving for excellence. Here’s how you walk that line.

What Perfectionism Feels Like

Worrying obsessively about what people think of you is a form of anxiety. This type of worry is the lovechild of social anxiety and perfectionism, in terms of the family tree.

But let’s back up and talk about perfectionism for a moment because this little monster can cause a big ruckus in your life.

Perfectionism presses down on you in a similar manner as anxiety. It feels like you’re dragging around a few thousand kilograms of dead weight. Plus, those struggling with perfectionism face intense feelings of never being good enough… at anything. As a result, they strive for excellence to the point of dangerous exhaustion.

If you deal with being a perfectionist, you may feel the impact in many (if not all) areas of your life.

How Perfectionism Impacts Your Life

As mentioned, social anxiety plays a big part in why you may worry about what others think of you so much.

To sum up social anxiety, it’s a debilitating fear that you will somehow “mess up,” causing people to dislike you. And this “messing up” could include various actions—saying the wrong thing, spilling something on the table, embarrassing yourself, etc.

Unsurprisingly, then, perfectionism can negatively impact your life as well.

You might avoid social events or making new friends. Professionally speaking, you could be too afraid of failing to actually go for a promotion. And in your romantic relationships, you might always keep your partner at arm’s length to avoid being vulnerable.

Keys to Stop Worrying About What Others Think

Despite worry and anxiety taking the helm of your ship far too often, a few practical changes will help you stop worrying so much.

Understand Yourself

Firstly, get to know yourself on a deeper level. Keeping a journal, talking with a counsellor, or even some time alone in self-reflection can accomplish this task.

The better you know yourself—strengths, weaknesses, goals, values—the more confident you will feel. And self-confidence tends to make connecting with others much easier.

Focus on Others

In a nutshell, people are typically thinking about themselves—not you.

With that in mind, do yourself a favour and think about other people, too. When you’re trying to connect with someone, be genuinely interested. This approach helps to decrease feelings of self-consciousness as well.

Practice Deep Breathing

Deep belly breathing works wonders for overcoming anxiety. When you find yourself worrying about what others think about you, stop and practice breathing techniques.

Deep breathing communicates to your autonomic nervous system to calm down, supporting a more relaxed state of body and mind. In turn, this relaxed state helps you to stop worrying and start connecting with others.

Reclaim Your Power

All types of anxiety make you feel small, crushable, and weak. To battle this powerless feeling, do a few power poses.

The Archer pose (Yoga Akarna Dhanurasana) is a favourite. Or simply stand with your arms up and hands behind head. You could also stretch your arms out and up as far as you can reach.

Strangely enough, this infuses “I am powerful. I am enough.” into your entire being.

Know Your Limits

The memes and quotes are partly right about finding success outside of your comfort zone. But here’s the thing, you don’t have to go to the edge of the cliff to “be perfect.”

Find your middle ground between the cliff’s edge and a defeated retreat. There you will successfully overcome worry while still supporting personal growth.

How to Strive for Excellence (the Healthy Way)

Striving for excellence involves several things including:

  • Practising the keys to stop excessive worry.
  • Pushing your limits on your middle ground.
  • Taking care of yourself (and not being shy about it!)
  • Rediscovering your values; aligning your goals with those values.
  • Knowing exactly why you are doing something.
  • Failing; becoming comfortable with feeling uncomfortable at times.
  • Celebrating both the big and little wins.

If you struggle with worrying too much about what others think or doing things perfectly, you’re probably also a dreamer and doer. When you effectively silence the worrisome and perfectionistic thoughts, you’ll be amazed at the natural progression of personal growth.

For more help to stop your excessive worrying about what others think and strive for excellence the healthy way, please contact me today.

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