Despite what the name suggests, as a perfectionist I find that I spend most of time being concerned with whether I’m doing something right, rather than doing it perfectly.
I look for advice for all sorts of things, which is why I’m so obsessed with self-help and self-development.
I like to see how other people have done it, so I can do the same – because if someone else has done it this way and succeeded, then I must be getting it right by copying them?
If you’re someone who has ever read this blog before, then it’s likely that you too suffer from the same infliction. Sure, self-help can be a wonderful tool and I truly think that a lot of content under this category has inspired changes in my life for the better.
But what happens when it is no longer used as a tool, but as a crutch?
OBSESSION, IT TAKES CONTROL
This is a pattern I find myself falling into every couple of months or so. I spend so much time reading, listening to and watching self-help-style content that my brain becomes overwhelmed with all the suggestions.
I’m constantly looking for validation, whether that’s for the way I look, the way I speak, the way I eat, the things I do… The list really is endless at this point, as I seek validation for everything.
For me, self-help is that validation.
Sure, I use it as a way to learn how to do certain things and how to improve – hence why the entire focus of this blog is ‘becoming better’ – but that’s not the only thing I get from it. I tend to use self-help writers, podcasters, Youtubers, bloggers as a literal guide for my own life.
When you read self-help, it is always recommended to take only what applies to you and to take even that with a grain of salt. However, over the years that message has got lost on me.
Instead of taking things with a grain of salt – aka. perspective – I take it wholeheartedly.
It all comes down to self-esteem and trust, which is something I’ve learnt that I have a very small supply of. This is why I cannot follow my own intuition to see what the right path for me would b, and instead want to copy the routines that others have laid out.
Of course, you know that this never works – and I know it too, deep down.
I know that I cannot copy people and expect to get the same results or to feel the same level of satisfaction, yet I still try.
OBSESSION, IT EATS ME WHOLE*
As a perfectionist, I always want to be doing the right thing in the best way I can which is why I spend hours per day in the world of self-help.
The issue here comes from the fact that:
- That is an awful lot of content to consume
- Everyone has different ideas
How am I supposed to keep up?
Sometimes, I consume so much self-help that it all starts to look the same, like when you’re overtired and the world becomes so blurry you cannot make out different shapes or places anymore. Everyone seems to say the same thing, which makes me feel even worse when I discover that I don’t do, have, or even agree with any of it.
Morning pages, meditation, therapy, yoga, sunrise walks, jogging, daily grooming, workout videos, fashionable clothing, regular writing schedules, a vegan diet, sustainable items, reading, playing music, online classes…
It is simply impossible to follow all of the advice that I receive!
Yet still, I berate myself when I feel like I’m failing because I don’t have a morning routine, or the perfect diet full of green juice, or a regular writing schedule or whatever that content-creator is suggesting right now. Perhaps I don’t even want that thing, but because they have it and seem so successful I must be failing.
With each new suggestion, the feeling of failure deepens and my overwhelm increases because there simply isn’t enough hours in the day or energy in my soul to get through it all.
CUTTING OFF AND MOVING ON
So today, I took some action because I’m tired of being overwhelmed.
Instead of spending every waking hour in and around self-help content, I’ve kept away from screens quite a lot today.
I’ve spent time with family, with my dog, and with other content that brings me joy. I haven’t focused too much on the routine I’m keeping, which means I haven’t been berating myself for every little mistake I might make, because I’m not absorbing content that I can compare myself too.
Overconsumption is an issue for me, which I’m sure will be a topic for another day, and considering most of what I consume is advice-related there’s no wonder that I go to bed every night feeling overwhelmed.
It’s been so wonderful today to take a step back today, and allow myself to just be.
This is something that I need to work into my everyday life, and not just use it as a one-off occasion when I’m getting overwhelmed. ]
Taking the time away from other people’s opinions has allowed me to come up with some new ideas for myself and have some much needed reflection.
Other people’s advice can be brilliant and if you’re feeling lost, then self-help is a wonderful too.
Just make sure you don’t do what I do and get yourself lost in the world of routines, schedules, green smoothies, yoga, meditation and more.
You know yourself best, even when you don’t feel like it, so please learn from my mistakes and take everything you read with a grain of salt – remember, that means perspective. Try things out, experiment with a new way of doing things, but don’t ever feel like you have to take on the world.
Working on yourself is brilliant and while it is a lifelong process, don’t feel like you have to be actively doing something towards it everyday. Taking some time out to read a YA dystopian novel, listen to a true crime podcast, or veg out on daytime telly is okay – and it can sometimes be a great way to inspire new ideas, because your brain finally has time to just relax and be.
Take care of yourself, friends.
*these headings are inspired by this beautiful song by Bastille.