Our elder advises a letter writer who’s struggling with perfectionism.
Question your inner voice, and seek help if you are feeling desperate.
I have this problem. I have a voice in my head. It tells me I’m not good enough. I’m worthless. Useless. Nobody cares about you. Nobody loves you. Nobody will ever love you. Your friends hate you. Your parents are disappointed in you. You are fat. Ugly. Embarrassing. You annoy people. But I keep it hidden. I have two personalities. The person during the day with my friends. The one everyone thinks is the real me. The happy, cheerful, loving person who is perfect. She’s invincible. But there is the other person. The one who late at night, cries because she hates herself. Because she bottled it up all day for the fear that people would judge me. Judge me because I’m not perfect. The one that nobody knows. I tried to tell someone once. It didn’t work out. I thought it would be easy, but it wasn’t. I keep that person hidden all day. I cover my sadness with a smile and laugh. I have perfected the fake smile. The fake laugh. I can’t even remember my real smile and laugh. I don’t even know what to do. I just want this to stop. I want to leave. I want to die. I just don’t know.
I’m sorry to hear how burdened you feel about not being able to cope with the issues in your life. I admire your honesty and courage to ask for advice. As you probably know, we all have insecurities about different things. These insecurities can hurt our self-esteem, and they do make us feel not so good about ourselves.
From what you’ve shared with us, it looks as if you have a perfectionist inclination. Perfectionism, believe it or not, is high on the list of things that often cause people to feel insecure or have a sense of worthlessness as you talked about. You also mentioned feeling like a failure in different areas of your life.
Perfectionist behavior stems from low self-esteem, and low self-esteem usually revolves around a couple of things: Our perception about how others may be judging us, and how we measure up to the expectations that others impose on us.
Perfectionists often tell themselves, “If I do everything perfectly then I am good. If I make no mistakes or have no flaws, then I am valuable.” Behind this kind of thinking is the idea that if I can do things perfectly, then others will have no reason to judge me negatively. With this type of mindset, there’s a tendency to always see what’s wrong rather than what’s right, which sometimes causes us to find fault in others and ourselves when things don’t go quite as planned.
Most of us believe that making a few mistakes from time to time is normal, and it doesn’t mean we have failed entirely.
But perfectionists tend to believe that they should never make mistakes, and making a mistake means they are a total failure or a horrible person for disappointing others. This all-or-nothing mentality makes it really scary for a perfectionist when they know there’s a chance something may go wrong.
Trying to be perfect all the time is certainly not a realistic expectation for you or anyone else for that matter. It’s just a very stressful way to live.
The harder you try to please your peers and worry about how they’re judging you, the more confused and unhappy you will become. Don’t change who you really are because you think others will like you better.
So, focus on being your genuine self by trying to be a little more respectful to who you are. Trust your instincts and value your special qualities.
If there’s self-respect, in spite of our imperfections, the more others will respect us and like us because they will sense we’re confident and fun to be with. And don’t allow other people’s opinion to determine our self-worth. The idea is to never think less of you. If you rely on the opinions of others too much, it will just further hurt your self-esteem.
As for those people who may be judging you, keep in mind that they are usually insecure themselves, and they need to put others down to boost their poor self-esteem. There will always be people that aren’t very nice. Let’s not waste our time trying to please all those haters out there for “haters gonna hate.”
There is a saying, “We come to find joy in our life not by finding a perfect person [in ourselves], but by learning to see an imperfect person [in us] perfectly.”
One last thing, it’s important you question the thoughts of your inner voice. And it’s not so much about trying to ignore the thoughts. What happens sometimes is that we begin to hold on to the false opinions that the inner voice is telling us without ever questioning the validity of those negative thoughts. In other words, know that you have the choice to either move in a more positive direction by opposing the negative thoughts, or continue to worry about things by wrongly believing the negative thoughts.
We must understand that our negative thoughts don’t accurately represent who we really are – or the true reality of a situation.
Since you have expressed some serious concerns in your letter, we want to clarify that we are only an advice service. If you feel a deep sense of desperation, our suggestion is for you to seek professional help immediately.
Article #: 431308