by Adam D. Blum, MFT, Gay Therapy Center Founder and Director
Do you find yourself struggling with perfectionism? Perfectionism is pretty common for LGBTQ+ people. Adam Blum, Founder and Director of the Gay Therapy Center, discusses some tips he’s found helpful with his therapy clients to overcome perfectionism.
Running time: 2.5 minutes.
Recovering From Gay Perfectionism
Hi, I’m Adam Blum. I’m the founder and the director of the Gay Therapy Center. Let’s talk about perfectionism. It’s a really big issue for the LGBTQ community.
Why do LGBTQ Folks Deal with Perfectionism?
Being perfect is one way to manage feeling like you’re an outsider in your own family, or in your school, or in your community. You know, it can be quite humiliating to grow up gay. Being perfect is one way to try to manage that.
If you’re a perfectionist, you might look great on the outside, but inside you’re feeling tired or depressed. And I think it’s common for a lot of out and proud gay people to underneath feel some of those old tapes that they’re less than straight people or that they’re pathetic in some way. These old tapes can quietly run our lives and exhaust us.
Steps to Recovering From Perfectionism
So how do we recover from perfectionism? Here’s what many of my clients are able to do.
Their first step was to acknowledge on a very deep level that they have taken in those false teachings that somehow they are less than because they are gay.
Step two was to start to feel some righteous anger, about those cultural teachings to realize their destructiveness and the arbitrary nature of them, and to be really pissed off about it.
Step three was to affirm that although they would like to be less perfectionistic, they also had awareness that being a perfectionist also had brought some good things in their lives. It had allowed them to survive middle school or homophobic parents. And that realization allowed them to be more compassionate to themselves for being perfectionist. It helped help them avoid that common trap of being mean to yourself when you start to realize, “Oh, I’m being mean to myself.”
Finally, the fourth step was they experimented with little mini experiments of being less perfectionistic. So perhaps they delayed by an extra five or 10 minutes when they replied to that text or email, and how that felt sense of actually seeing, “Oh, it didn’t change my life. I didn’t lose friends, I didn’t lose my job.” And when they had success with that, they went on from there and changed another behavior, just 5% as an experiment.
You’re allowed to be imperfect
Perfectionism is a defense. It’s there to ensure that you’re loved and that you’re safe. The good news is that you can be loved and safe and also be really imperfect. For more information about LGBTQ mental health, check out our website at theGayTherapyCenter.com.