How are you today? Are you sitting relaxing whilst reading this or are you thinking about a zillion things you need to do?
When I’m getting ready for work in the mornings and at various points throughout my day, I think about what needs to be done such as washing, cooking dinners, tidying, etc etc. All those boring household or admin chores.
‘I need to’, ‘I have to’, ‘I must’ and ‘I should’ are all part of my vocabulary. I say it my head, out loud and I even write a to do list with all the tasks I must do. The upshot of it all really means I am putting endless amounts of pressure on myself to do these things, when realistically it doesn’t matter, nothing bad is going to happen if I don’t. I may not have as many clothes to choose from, or we might get a takeaway or my side of the bedroom will look untidy but nobody is going to die (extreme I know) from me not putting on a load of washing.
Where does this pressure come from? Me! I do this to me! However, I think it also stems from society and from back in the day when we (including men here) were expected to live in a Stepford Wife like state of having the perfect home and family with nothing out of place. Being perfect and being seen to have the perfect life was important. Zoom forward and we put pressure on ourselves to be nothing less than perfect, as we think other people are perfect and have the perfect house which is always clean and tidy with not a piece of dust in sight. Social media certainly adds to the pressure too.
We should be enjoying our lives and living the most fulfilled one we possibly can, striving for happiness, because unfortunately, we won’t live forever but there will always be laundry!
Perfectionism is unrealistic, I hadn’t realised until I saw a therapist a few years ago, when I was struggling with my anxiety, what it was all about. Trying to be this perfect person and do everything all the time just wasn’t working for me. I would say to my therapist ‘I need to do the washing and sort dinners out’ she would say to me ‘Why do you NEED to? Why do you HAVE to do the washing as soon as you get home?’ She was telling me the pressure I was putting myself under was because I wanted everything to be perfect. I was a perfectionist! Now, I had never, ever in my life viewed myself as a perfectionist and to hear this was alarming….me, the untidy, crumb making girl was a perfectionist, HA don’t make me laugh
But the more I thought about it, it all began to make sense. I always felt I had to be doing something more, I was striving for an impossible high standard for myself which I could never reach and more often than not I seem to let myself down because of it. I was judging myself for not being good enough and not reaching that sky high standard I had put in place. All the should, needs, and musts were draining me, and it was true.
When you are at school and learning, you have standards to obtain in order to pass and your teachers and your parents hold you accountable. There are standards at home we learn, from the way we look and dress to how we act. We may often rebel against these but the rules are there and we inevitably follow them when we are kids. We didn’t set the standards but hey we accept it. When we grow up and move on and out, we have our own standards that form and develop from what we grew up with, we may keep ones we agree with and ditch the others.
Going back to what my therapist said, made me look at the way I phrase things whether in my head or out loud. If I find myself saying ‘I must put a load of washing on’ then I stop and think why? Am I going to run out of clothes? Is this laundry basket over flowing? Is the world going to end? NO. There are times, when you have to do your laundry as you will have no clothes to wear but nothing bad will happen if you miss a day or two. I also ask myself ‘Do I want to’? Substituting ‘want’ into where ‘need, ‘should’, ‘must’ and ‘have’ go, changes it. Well yes, sometimes I do want to do a load of washing as there are clothes I want to wear or I am just in the mood to do chores. Other times, I laugh and go ‘Nah, i’ll leave it tonight’. Both are perfectly acceptable.
I often find myself wanting to spend time doing things I love, such as going for a walk or reading a book but feel guilty like I should be doing more productive tasks instead. However, reading a book to me is productive, it relaxes me and it’s what I want to do, so why do I feel it isn’t? Because that annoying voice inside my head tells me it’s wasting time and instead of doing something to relax I should be doing household chores. Hmm I am learning to ignore the voice, because, I know what is best for me.
During the week I often think ‘at the weekend I am going to read my magazine, catch up with everyone’s blogs and spend some quality time with my husband or think about how I can get myself to where I want to be’. But what I often end up doing is thinking ‘well if I just get all the little jobs out the way first, then I can sit down and do all that without feeling like I have neglected the housework’. I then find I have spent so much time doing all the boring stuff that I see as a necessity, I have very little time left to do what I want and so another week goes by, with me neglecting my real passions and wants.
I’m not saying to ignore all the chores and drop your standards and do what you want all the time. All I am saying is cut yourself some slack and just spend time doing the things you enjoy and don’t feel guilty about doing so. I do struggle to shush my inner perfectionist but I am trying. There is nothing wrong with setting yourself a goal or a target, but if your standards are set too high and it becomes impossible to reach them, then think about your wellbeing and stop.
Don’t judge yourself by other people’s standards as you have your own life to live and your own things going on and you have no idea what is going on in their life. Equally don’t judge others by your standards as you will always be disappointed.
Ditch trying to subscribe to being a perfectionist, it isn’t worth it, isn’t good for your wellbeing and it doesn’t lead to greater things. Instead, set yourself achievable and realistic goals to help you become the person you want to be. Ignore the inner voice telling you otherwise, trying to make you feel guilty for enjoying time on your hobbies, passions and dreams. If they make you happy and give you a sense of accomplishment no matter how small, then do more of them and less of the boring household chores.
No one will ever say on their deathbed, ‘I wish I could clean the bathroom one more time’. So do more of what you love, guilt free and make your soul sing!
Have a lovely week.
Look after you!