Written by: Gurpreet Kaur, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
Have you had expectations so high in your head that you don’t even start the task?
I asked Kartik, my client, to pick something very minute to do so he can get unstuck from being overwhelmed. First of all, he could not even think of anything he could do. He did not want to commit to anything at all. Finally, he picked to cook his favorite pasta recipe. After two weeks at our next appointment, he reported, “I got so busy with the things. I could not do the assignment.” Of course, I had to work with him on this. We uncovered the real causes of why he could not do the assignment and felt so busy. This was his thought process: “I have to call my friend for the recipe, have to make a list of ingredients, go to this specific store to buy this high-quality cheese, and then make an actual attempt to make it.”
He had made the assignment a really big task in his head that he got overwhelmed just even thinking about the task. It was an ordeal that he had to pass. Here I was thinking this will get him moving and unstuck him from all the anxiety but he made it even worse. The funny thing is that he never completed that assignment. Such is the power of the fear of failure. It can get you stuck at a hard and rock place that moving in any direction is impossible. Can you imagine living up to the expectation he had built in his head? I can and I know it feels scary. I would not start the assignment either.
But what if his thought process was like, “Dr. Kaur just asked me to make a pasta recipe. All I need is dry pasta to boil and a can of sauce. Putting these two ingredients together will complete the assignment. The end.” How easy does it feel now? Pretty doable, right?
So why do you make things such a big deal in your head? And most importantly what to do about it?
Here is a 3-step process to keep it moving instead of freezing with anxiety:
You make things such a big deal in your head because you are a perfectionist and hold very high standards for yourself and others around you. First of all, you have to admit that you are a perfectionist and that completing things with the utmost quality is how you work. Nothing is wrong with performing at that high-quality level, however, there is a price to pay for that. You just can’t constantly perform at that level forever especially when you are headed towards a burn out. Simply accepting that you are a perfectionist and that these high standards can be lowered and no one will even notice that you did it because others usually have no clue that you are trying to meet those high standards. They either see you as a superhero completing things with high standards and an ease. Or they think of you as a lazy person because you are not doing anything due to the fear. Only you are measuring yourself with the high standards you have set for yourself. Once you are able to see your perfectionist tendencies, it is little more digestible at that time to maybe, just maybe lower your standards a bit. And that can be a break through.
Secondly, break things into bitesize tasks. Your ability to break things down to chewable bites is crucial as a perfectionist. Otherwise, small little things blow up so big in your head that you get overwhelmed so easily.
Next, practice setting a time limit with your tasks. For example, if you have to write a paper, give yourself a set time like 3 hours, 2 days, or a week depending on the assignment. You have to complete the task within that timeframe. Otherwise, you have to move on. This practice allows you to do a “good enough” of a job with those tasks. You want to be able to do a “good enough” of a job more and more often.
Good enough is not only good enough in fact it is much better than being paralyzed with the fear of failure. Good enough keeps you moving. Good enough allows you to be less of a perfectionist, which is the goal here.
Gurpreet Kaur, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine Dr. Gurpreet Kaur is a Licensed Professional Counselor, Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor, Life Coach, Speaker, and an Author. Dr. Kaur is very passionate about self-love, self-empowerment, wellness, reaching the full potential, and applying quantum mechanics principles to daily life. Dr. Kaur teaches a step-by-step self-care process to live a mentally and emotionally healthy life.