Performer or Perfectionist: is this you?

Ask yourself the question “is living in performance mode really living?”

Did you answer “yes”?

Then maybe have read below on my experience with a performance driven being, and see if your mind can be swayed.

For many years I was chasing everything. I mean EVERYTHING. I wanted the career, the body, the relationship, the friendships, the knowledge, the house and the bank account. To get there I believed that I had to be the best at everything, and to be the best, I had to put in more efforts and work than everyone around me.

Why?

Because I was also a perfectionist. And with perfectionism comes in-authenticity and a heavy sense of unworthiness. I didn’t feel good enough as I was, so believed I had to do more to reach everyone else’s level.

In my performance mode I was incredibly hard on myself. I lived by my rule book and lists, and punished myself when I strayed from either of them. I was a people pleaser, almost always at my own expense, and was so misaligned with my inner self that I frequently acted differently or hid parts of me from others in order to put on a false face when meeting potential partners or friends. Maybe it was partly to do with the fact that I didn’t really know who I was nor have the confidence to really find out. Performance mode was pushing myself to a limit where my body was in a constant state of stress.  My cortisol levels would have been through the roof, but the body is an amazing thing and for a long time it adapted to where my mind was pushing it. Until it decided that it no longer wanted to adapt, and the symptoms of burnout grew stronger, forcing me to seek help.

Nevertheless, let me give you a glimpse at my daily expectation of myself:

  • Go running at 6am
  • Work 9 – 12 hours
  • Prepare breakfast & lunch & dinner (healthy & calorie counting)
  • Go to crossfit
  • Read self-development books
  • Start listening to more podcasts
  • Study online courses
  • Watch documentaries
  • Stay up to date with world news
  • Have a perfectly clean house. I mean PERFECT.
  • Work on my social life

Clearly, I was insane.

Performance mode does not mean that you’re more valuable, more qualified or more achieved than anybody else. Performance mode is you living in an unsustainable way constantly keeps you very close to your limits. It’s when you take on more than you should, push yourself to work longer than you should, and act like you’re a super human.

In fact, when you make the transition into a living mode, the realisation hits you incredibly hard that how your life was before was exactly the opposite of what it seemed to be at the time. When you start living, like…really living, you start to listen to the needs of your body. You can have a more bigger picture view on your life and the choices you make. You start to feel grounded.

With all of that comes a feeling of security, right from your core.

When I made the transition, the change in my perception of myself and how others perceived me was absolutely remarkable. Not only were compliments flooding in (thanks everyone, always happy to hear!), but the remarks were about my energy and my aura in general. People are feeling more calm around me, they feel this groundedness that was missing before. My priorities changed to myself and I started to understand my own needs…and actually fulfilling them! When my authentic needs were met, I was able to start authentically living.

And it’s a beautiful way to live.

For many of us, it’s not just the performance mode that can take a toll on our mindset. It’s also perfectionism, and they are frequently found living side by side.

So, where did this idea of perfection come from? I believe that it’s all driven from when we were very young. We have been taught how to do things the right way, and how not to do things the wrong way. We go to school and are graded on how well we do. We have the opportunity to be given a perfect score, and we are always pushed towards that goal. When we do something wrong, we are told off or punished.  Through all of this we build ourselves our own rule book on how we should live our lives, and if we falter from this rule book then we believe we should be punished. Making mistakes isn’t always seen as a learning but rather an incapability, and not all teachers or parents are supportive of helping you to find your own path and evolution.

To make mistakes would mean failure; that we are not worthy or not good enough.

And sadly, that leads to a very unsustainable and dark way to live.

In order to shift yourself out of a perfectionism mindset, perhaps we need to consider what the opposite of perfectionism is? In this case, I wouldn’t specifically define it as imperfection. Instead, I like to think of it as an acceptance of the flow of life. I really love this interpretation as it makes me think about the wind or the currents of the sea.

Let me explain.

We can provide some sort of framework of predictability both the wind and sea as we have the science to understand gravitational pulls of the moon which impacts the tides of our oceans, or low- and high-pressure systems that play a role in our atmosphere and the nature of the wind. We know that we can experience different weather conditions or natural events based on this science. However, what we don’t know is when we will experience these changes and whether they will play in our favour or not. We also don’t know the extent or extremity of what might happen. However, instead of living our lives in fear and playing it safe, we have to continue throughout our day and go with the flow. Meaning that we will deal with the event if and when it happens, instead of trying to control the uncontrollable to have a perfect outcome.

That isn’t to say that we can’t prepare for certain situations or ignore any warning signs. More that we need to find our balance there and NOT live our lives by a rule book.

Does any of this resonate with you?

If you’re finding yourself in a similar situation to where I was, then I encourage you to take the first step and admit to yourself where you are right now in your life. By acknowledging where your mindset is, you’re able to make the steps to change your direction and flow. It could be as simple as talking to friends, or maybe you need coaching or a psychologist.

If you’re feeling brave, share your experiences in the comments below!

Jenni Anne x

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