As I was going to sleep last night, I was reviewing in my head what I had said to a client earlier that day. I started to wonder if I chose the best tact, and then promptly thought “I did the best I could at the time.” I realized, in that moment, that thought is not unusual for me.
This realization made me sit straight up in bed. You see, for much of my life I second-guessed myself. I almost constantly mulled over past decisions, conversations, and actions, trying to figure out how I could have done better.
I am a perfectionist at heart. We perfectionists tend to be very hard on ourselves; “I did the best I could at the time” is not a phrase most perfectionists believe applies to them. So the fact that I realized I now frequently say that to myself, and believe it, came as quite a shock.
Almost every client who walks through my door is a perfectionist. They believe they can make themselves better by beating themselves up for thoughts or actions they deem less than perfect. (Let’s face it, that is almost everything.) I tell them they’ve come to the right place; I know what constant self-castigation feels like. I also know the great gift we can give ourselves, and others, by letting that belief in perfection go.