We have entered the holiday season and perfectionism is something that can come up now more than other times of the year, especially for perfectionists. However, you can create trust and connection without being perfect.
In our last blog post we talked about the cost of perfectionism and about the fear and anxiety that people experience in relation to being a perfectionist. (Read it HERE)
Since the holiday season has already begun and some of the struggles related to being perfect may have already surfaced, it’s a good time to reflect and learn so that the rest of this season can be more enjoyable and less stressful.
Let’s talk about how you can scale back on doing things perfectly.
First it’s important to remember that the most valuable thing about any event or any destination is the quality of the experience.
You could be in the picture perfect place with the picture perfect things and have a miserable experience. Likewise, some of the best experiences have happened under imperfect circumstances.
Think about it, when you are so focused on making things perfect you are distracted from the main point which is the quality of the interpersonal experience. So, how can you shift your perspective and focus on the quality of the experience? You can do this by having integrity.
Having integrity means being congruent, clear and accountable. Let’s break this down.
This means what is on the inside is what is on the outside.
Here’s an example: You really want to make hand-made, perfect little holiday name card holders for your holiday table. Do it because YOU love it. Make extra time for it because it brings you joy, not because you want other people to be happy about the cute name card holders.
When you are doing things for other people’s reactions and are keeping receipts (i.e. I did xyz so you should be grateful), you are putting a strain on yourself and your relationships.
Even though it might not be totally conscious, you are expecting someone’s level of excitement or gratefulness about something to match yours; when in reality it may not be important to them. Therefore, they may not give you the reaction you are expecting.
That is not a formula for an enjoyable time with family and friends. It will only lead to you being let down and upset.
So get really clear on what you want to do and why you are doing it. Make sure that you are not doing it for someone who isn’t really asking you to do that.
Decide what you want for your holidays and stay congruent with that. Listen to and honor your body.
If you bite off more than you can chew, that’s okay, that’s where the next part comes in.
Communication is a big part of having integrity. Start with getting clear with yourself, then get clear with the people in your circle.
Get clear on what you are up for and what you are not up for. You can even start the conversation with: “I really want to do xyz, but I also know I might be taking on more than I can handle, so I’ll keep you posted”.
Being upfront and honest with family and friends about what you want and what you have time and energy for during the holidays will help ensure that you are all on the same page.
If you just assume people know what you are thinking or feeling, then you may be setting yourself up for problems.
This might be related to who is going to host, what food you are going to cook, how much you are going to spend, what events you are going to attend, etc.
So check in with yourself and communicate with love from there. Sometimes others will have a reaction to that. That’s OK. It is theirs to handle.
This is the most important part of integrity: if you can’t do what you said you were going to do, be accountable by letting your people know.
When you acknowledge that you said one thing but actually need to do another, that builds trust and connection. Most people will understand and give grace to those who are upfront and accountable for their actions. If you make excuses or do not acknowledge the reasons why you did not follow through, people may not be as understanding. They may feel hurt or disappointed and direct those feelings toward judgement.
When you are accountable, you keep the space clear and clean so there is no distraction from the actual emotions of disappointment or hurt. Those emotions can be processed. Judgements cause tension.
When you hold yourself accountable you can identify and explain why you made a particular decision.
For example you can say “Baking 3 kinds of homemade pies, making scalloped potatoes and having 9 Christmas trees will lead to me being overextended and stressed, causing me to have a crappy holiday; and it is just not worth it.”
When explained this way, people will understand that you are making a choice that is right for you because the original plan will have a negative impact not only on you, but on them. The people who love and care about you ultimately want what is best for you and your explanation will give them clarity about your decision and why you made it. This creates trust and connection.
You can set the tone for the holiday.
If you love getting fancy and doing all the little hand-made details and decorations, do that and focus on the joy it brings you. If that is not your idea of a fun time, then prioritize the quality time spent with your family; understanding that just being present with them is enough if that’s what brings you joy.
This is how you set the tone; being congruent (doing what you actually want to do, not what others expect), being clear (with yourself and others) and being accountable if plans change. If you focus on these 3 elements you will create trust and connection with those you care about and you will begin to see that being perfect is not necessary in order to enjoy the holidays.
If you are dealing with perfectionism or other challenges that are holding you back from connecting with others, contact us. We are here to help!