Monday, December 11, 2017

When You Find out You are a Perfectionist

I recently took the Enneagram test to learn more about myself – why I do what I do in both a healthy state and under stress and what that looks like in childhood, relationships and at work. After completing the free online questionnaire, the results were in and I was sure they were mistaken. I must have answered some of the questions incorrectly; maybe I was indicating how I was striving to be rather than how I actually behave. I retook it changing some answers I was on the fence about. Same results.

What to do when you find out you are a perfectionist

There are nine different types: Perfectionist, Helper, Performer, Romantic, Investigator, Loyalist, Enthusiast, Challenger and Peacemaker. I was certain I was going to be a Helper or Performer but found out I was Type 1: The Perfectionist. I immediately thought "No, I'm not! I don't try to look perfect!" but it is not image based. I have a deep need to know and follow rules and get everything done before relaxing. If someone is in the 12 items or less line at the grocery store and they have 14 items? Not okay. Why are there rules if you're not going to follow them?

Another word for The Perfectionist is The Reformer which sits a little more nicely with me. They have a sense of mission with the influence that they have which makes sense why I take this space so seriously. Some of these characteristics taken from The Road Back to You (a must-read book on this topic) are:
  • If I say I'll do it, I'll do it.
  • I spend a lot of time thinking about how I can be a better person.
  • I notice immediately when things are wrong or out of place.
  • I don't feel comfortable when I try to relax. There is too much to be done.
  • I worry a lot.
  • I am really disappointed when other people don't do their part.
  • I like routine and don't readily embrace change.
  • I try to be careful and thoughtful about how I spend money
Wow, I do not sound very fun.

I have always been very productive and I like that about myself. But, can I sit back and relax? Only if the checklist is done. Can I nap? Nope. Can I be critical? Yes. I will come home from being out and see Gary's got the dinner on the table and the kids lunches are made for the next day and everyone is happy. But. The blankets that should be on the couch are on the floor. That is what I point out because it is what I notice first. I know, I sound terrible, right?

When I'm healthy, I can change the world. When I'm stressed, I can tear it down with my anger and words.

This is hard for me to admit but healthy to recognize it. I can embrace my perfectionism but also work with it – transform my thoughts to get the best parts of it and recognize when I am under stress. Some of the transformative path suggestions are to work on self-compassion (note what my inner critic says), resist the urge to give others to-do lists (Gary sighs with relief!), resist redoing what others have done (can Koen really clean a toilet?!), be aware how you accept criticism from others (I usually get so defensive) and pick a hobby you aren't good at just for the love of it.

Where things get very interesting is I asked Gary to take the test and found out he is The Investigator. This has opened my eyes and allowed me to understand him and the struggles that we have so much better! Some of the characteristics listed in The Road Back to You are:

  • I can take care of myself, and I think others could do the same.
  • I don't always say things out loud, but in my head I am pretty sarcastic and cynical.
  • I think thoughts are more reliable than feelings.
  • I need a couple of days to process an experience or know how I feel about something.
  • Sometimes I think I should be more generous. It's hard for me.
  • Material possessions don't make me happy.

    It has boggled my mind that Gary cannot give me his thoughts immediately when I ask a question. Also, the fact that he is more thought than feeling-based makes me struggle with connection sometimes. Regarding this, Brene Brown talks in Braving the Wilderness about how we should work towards conflict transformation.

    In order to work through something we should try to understand each other rather than just compromise or agree to disagree.

    This doesn't mean that we have to agree but it is a lot harder to be frustrated with someone when you can see where they are coming from and why they respond the way they do. This works for ourselves too! If we want to accept ourselves, in order to truly feel a sense of belonging, we need to bravely work through the steps of being vulnerable in self-discovery.

    What to do when you find out you are a perfectionist

    Take the quiz which is about 5-10 minutes long. Yes, I am being teachy and preachy but I can't help it – it's who I am!

    Brave is exploring who you are.

    Brave is accepting it.

    Brave is working on transformation.

    “I now see how owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do.” ― BrenĂ© Brown

    Have you taken the test? What were the results? Do you feel it is accurate? Be sure to look up your type in more detail here.


    As always, I'd love to see you on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

    This is part of a writing challenge prompted by the word  BRAVE. Here are what some other writers shared using that theme:

    Tamara at Discovering Parenthood
    Shannon at Shannon Lee Blog
    Robyn at Creativity Strikes

    Could you be a perfectionist? What are the benefits and what are some ways to transform yourself?


    1. I agree! Self discovery is terrifying and feeling vulnerable is scary. It does mean we need to be brave to face ourselves. Great insights.

      1. Thank you, Robyn! Sometimes it would be easier to just try not to think about it but I know I like self-improvement ;)

    2. I just took the on-line test and came out as a Type 9 - Peacemaker. I actually thought I would be a Perfectionist, like you, as I certainly have some of those tendencies as well. Interesting.

      1. Interesting! To move one step further, you are technically a type 9 with a "1 wing" or "8 wing" so I'm guessing with you saying you have those tendencies, you are a 9 with a 1 wing!

      2. ah...probably - I will have to look into this more!

    3. I got Enthusiast, but yet many of the tendencies you describe fit me as well.

      1. My dad is an enthusiast and I get my sense of adventure from him!

    4. I'm an investigator--explains the kids getting annoyed with me for the multitude of questions I ask when I am trying to understand a situation they got themselves in!