If I'm not perfect I'm failing...

lostforgottensoul

MyPTSD Pro
So, I wrote this in my diary earlier but I think it might do well as it's own thread as I honestly want some feedback here on how to change or challenge this thought.

The short of it is I've been spiraling downward and I couldn't figure out why so I reflected on it before therapy and literally minutes before the call I had this epiphany or whatever. That if I am not perfect, I'm failing. I'm not actively thinking it though which is why it took forever to even figure it out. It's good that I did but not sure how to challenge it. It just feels like how my brain works. And like I said, I am not actively thinking it. I'm more like applying those standards to myself and so when I don't do perfect or near perfect I am spiraling downward. So how do you challenge something you aren't actively thinking?

Back in my trauma not doing perfect meant torture. I know that. I know it's not happening now but I still struggle to not apply super high, unattainable standards to myself. And with my job, the more I see how not good I am doing the worse I do, if that makes sense.

I just don't know how to challenge a thought I'm not actually actively thinking but rather applying the standards to myself. Like, I get how to stop myself from thinking something or challenging a thought but how do you stop applying unattainable standards to yourself while still striving for high standards? I hope that made sense.
 

TruthSeeker

MyPTSD Pro
So, I wrote this in my diary earlier but I think it might do well as it's own thread as I honestly want some feedback here on how to change or challenge this thought.

The short of it is I've been spiraling downward and I couldn't figure out why so I reflected on it before therapy and literally minutes before the call I had this epiphany or whatever. That if I am not perfect, I'm failing. I'm not actively thinking it though which is why it took forever to even figure it out. It's good that I did but not sure how to challenge it. It just feels like how my brain works. And like I said, I am not actively thinking it. I'm more like applying those standards to myself and so when I don't do perfect or near perfect I am spiraling downward. So how do you challenge something you aren't actively thinking?

Back in my trauma not doing perfect meant torture. I know that. I know it's not happening now but I still struggle to not apply super high, unattainable standards to myself. And with my job, the more I see how not good I am doing the worse I do, if that makes sense.

I just don't know how to challenge a thought I'm not actually actively thinking but rather applying the standards to myself. Like, I get how to stop myself from thinking something or challenging a thought but how do you stop applying unattainable standards to yourself while still striving for high standards? I hope that made sense.
Can you give an example of what's happening-a real world experience? What kinds of goals are you setting that you aren't attaining and what kinds of standards are you applying to those goals? I get the quandary that being a perfectionist brings from trauma, and the why, but in the real world, very good is usually sufficient (perfect can't and realistically doesn't happen all the time, then we get disappointed-and I believe the rest of the world more often operates on a spectrum from minimum requirement to very good.......the perfectionist is an outlier I think).
 

lostforgottensoul

MyPTSD Pro
Can you give an example of what's happening-a real world experience? What kinds of goals are you setting that you aren't attaining and what kinds of standards are you applying to those goals?
Well, the biggest and what has me on a downward spin right now is my job. You have to be in the 80 percentile of the entire department 6 months in a row to promote and I promoted in Nov or Dec. I made Jan, Feb, and March (barely) but not April. The month ends for them on the 28th and I'm in the 50s percentage. Of course I know that 6 months in a row isn't the only way to promote. It's 6 months in a row OR 9 months out of 12. So I know my chance to promote isn't gone and I'm not having to start over yet. But this has me all spiraling downward and the more I focus on it and the harder I try, the worse it gets as my tone gets all bad (I work in a call center) and then customers feel like I am rushing them which makes the calls twice as long and it just start a bad pattern. Which I know. My last sup and I had this convo. Buy yet here I am not sleeping and really doing bad mentally. So, my job is what got me thinking about this but honestly? I hold myself to that sort of standard in everything I commit to doing. I guess my job is the only place I have to be functional and good at it. And I am and I know I am. And I know when I just let it happen I do good. But that doesn't stop that feeling of failing and the feeling of not being good enough and that defeat feeling. You know? I just wish I could stop this mental downturn when I start to not do so good at work which then makes it so much worse.
 

TruthSeeker

MyPTSD Pro
Well, the biggest and what has me on a downward spin right now is my job. You have to be in the 80 percentile of the entire department 6 months in a row to promote and I promoted in Nov or Dec. I made Jan, Feb, and March (barely) but not April. The month ends for them on the 28th and I'm in the 50s percentage. Of course I know that 6 months in a row isn't the only way to promote. It's 6 months in a row OR 9 months out of 12. So I know my chance to promote isn't gone and I'm not having to start over yet. But this has me all spiraling downward and the more I focus on it and the harder I try, the worse it gets as my tone gets all bad (I work in a call center) and then customers feel like I am rushing them which makes the calls twice as long and it just start a bad pattern. Which I know. My last sup and I had this convo. Buy yet here I am not sleeping and really doing bad mentally. So, my job is what got me thinking about this but honestly? I hold myself to that sort of standard in everything I commit to doing. I guess my job is the only place I have to be functional and good at it. And I am and I know I am. And I know when I just let it happen I do good. But that doesn't stop that feeling of failing and the feeling of not being good enough and that defeat feeling. You know? I just wish I could stop this mental downturn when I start to not do so good at work which then makes it so much worse.
The not being good enough thing is a result of the dysfunction you lived, right? You didn't grow up making being a perfectionist your life's goal, someone else taught you that there were consequences if you didn't follow all the rules and be the good one or you learned that was the best place to be in your family dynamics, the good one or perfect one gets less crap in their direction.

But that was then, and this is now and you're not stuck there. So, do you now have a little voice that criticizes you when you fall short at work? I had to give this voice a new job......my positive reinforcer....and each time I did something right......I said "good job".....not good job but it could have been better......just good job in a happy/proud tone. I first started saying it aloud, each and every day, and after a while it became a habit.....and now I just do it in my head. I now hear, good job, when I get my list of things done, get a hard task accomplished, or even put the last piece in a 1000 piece puzzle. And you are right, you need to do your best at work at work to keep your job, so that is a priority.

Secondly, I am not always miss nice or my best social self when I don't get quality sleep..... sleep preparation should be your number 1 priority, even if you need to take something like benedryl (check w doc for something non addictive)-I take something similar on difficult nights plus magnesium) to get adequate sleep. Finally, if you are having sleep issues, I'd suggest disengaging from TV at night altogether (especially shows that get you sucked in, drama, or triggering in any way), disengage from the computer and phone for at least 2 hrs prior to bed because the screens can cause sleep issues, don't come here to this sight before bed and post (it can stir things up), and do mundane tasks that help you relax before bed. Before bed, I choose mundane tasks for this very reason, I fold laundry, make tea for the next day (I drink lots of tea), clean out a drawer, take a hot bath or shower, drink some camomile tea, brush my hair, read and attend to cats seeking attention....and sometimes do relaxation techniques or meditation.....all are low key tasks without emotional attachments, that don't get the mind swirling about trauma related stuff. Go easy on yourself, and acknowledge the good things you do each day.......and perfection is not a great goal.....just do the best you can and be good with it.
 

lostforgottensoul

MyPTSD Pro
So, do you now have a little voice that criticizes you when you fall short at work?
Yes, but not like directly. It's more of a feeling then a thought but it's stuck to a thought. But that thought is felt. Does that make any sense at all? So, the issue I'm having is that it's not a direct thought that I can refocus or say "ah, huh" you, that thought. It's more felt and way more subtle. More like a core belief I guess. Feelings that are stuck to core beliefs. They feel almost like the center of you. I think it's more like that then anything.


I had to give this voice a new job......my positive reinforcer....and each time I did something right......I said "good job".....not good job but it could have been better......just good job in a happy/proud tone. I first started saying it aloud, each and every day, and after a while it became a habit.....and now I just do it in my head. I now hear, good job, when I get my list of things done, get a hard task accomplished, or even put the last piece in a 1000 piece puzzle. And you are right, you need to do your best at work at work to keep your job, so that is a priority.
I need to do more of that. My job does a lot of that but I don't feel it. It feels so misplaced. I actually did amazing. I won like 5 company awards, one for each of the 4 quarters and the one for being the in the top 10 percent for the year (I believe it is. They have like quite a few) but I remember that voice, though I won an award last month I was like "yeah, well didn't for this month" so that is there and I do need to work on that and maybe working on that will help this. What I'm taking about is much bigger. But I guess they are all pieces to a bigger puzzle?


Secondly, I am not always miss nice or my best social self when I don't get quality sleep..... sleep preparation should be your number 1 priority, even if you need to take something like benedryl (check w doc for something non addictive)-I take something similar on difficult nights plus magnesium) to get adequate sleep. Finally, if you are having sleep issues, I'd suggest disengaging from TV at night altogether (especially shows that get you sucked in, drama, or triggering in any way), disengage from the computer and phone for at least 2 hrs prior to bed because the screens can cause sleep issues, don't come here to this sight before bed and post (it can stir things up), and do mundane tasks that help you relax before bed. Before bed, I choose mundane tasks for this very reason, I fold laundry, make tea for the next day (I drink lots of tea), clean out a drawer, take a hot bath or shower, drink some camomile tea, brush my hair, read and attend to cats seeking attention....and sometimes do relaxation techniques or meditation.....all are low key tasks without emotional attachments, that don't get the mind swirling about trauma related stuff. Go easy on yourself, and acknowledge the good things you do each day.......and perfection is not a great goal.....just do the best you can and be good with it.
For sleep, I have to do these things or I won't sleep at all. I can't take sleep meds or they make me sleep the entire day. I do actually take things for sleep. 2 tizandines (muscle relaxers to help my body fall asleep) and a Xanax 1 mg (to help my mind fall asleep). My doctors that prescribes these meds know what I'm taking them for and they both know I take them together.

The TV must be going. For many reasons. I have to have the noise. If not my mind will race all night. And for the distraction from my mind racing all night. And for the light. But mainly for the noise. No way I could sleep without it. I know it's not good to sleep with the TV on and I turn it down so I can barely hear it and it does have a sleep timer on so it will turn itself off but I just can't fall asleep without it. I do try to set down my phone though. That will keep me up.

If I wake up in the middle of the night it's between me and my service dog to get me back to sleep. That can be an issue but usually I turn something back on real fast. I have some go tos on youtube that get me to sleep fast. Like breaking down legal documents or a dog groomer (the sound of the clippers). But can't take the meds after a certain hour.

I go to bed and take my meds at least 2 hours before I'm wanting to go to sleep. It takes about that long to go to sleep. Ish.
 

scout86

MyPTSD Pro
But I guess they are all pieces to a bigger puzzle?
Exactly! You didn't get much experience with positive reinforcement growing up. Learning things differently as an adult if harder than learning it the "right" way as a kid. Imagine you had a dog you wanted to teach to come when he was called, where his previous owner had punished him for coming. How would you approach that? How easy/hard would you expect it to be? Approach yourself and relearning kind of the same way.

I suggested this in your diary too, but, if your supervisor is someone you can talk to, I'd discuss this with them and enlist their help. For a couple reasons. One, they might not understand the problem if you don't explain it to them. You want them to know you care, and if they can help, great. Two, you tend to approach life like the Long Ranger and this might be a chance to practice asking for help and getting it. (Something else you didn't get a chance to do much as a kid.)
 

lostforgottensoul

MyPTSD Pro
if your supervisor is someone you can talk to,
Not sure. It's a different sup that just came back from 2 weeks of leave (I think he had Covid) and has only had a chance to talk to me twice (being at home and all) and so still feeling him out on how honest I can be. I've made anxiety known to my job but no one at my job knows I have PTSD but they very publicly want to hire vets and this sup is a veteran so maybe that's good? Don't know yet.


Imagine you had a dog you wanted to teach to come when he was called, where his previous owner had punished him for coming. How would you approach that? How easy/hard would you expect it to be? Approach yourself and relearning kind of the same way.
Will have to think on that one but positive reinforcement each time I wanted a come when called I guess. So that translate into what @TruthSeeker was saying?
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
So how do you challenge something you aren't actively thinking?
By becoming aware and making it an active thought process.
Totally understandable where you are coming from. I do it too. My thought process is: need to get everything right otherwise i might loose my job, or do something criminal or whatever the thought it. I take it to and extreme of what bad things might happen because I got something wrong. Get totally anxious and worked up.
So it's learning to give myself a break. Learning to realise when I get like this. Learning to be kind to myself. Trying to tell myself rational things rather than the irrational ones. Doesn't always work and this is a work in progress.
But becoming aware means you then get to make a conscious decision about how to react and behave differently.

Does saying things out loud to yourself help? Like saying " this month I won't meet 80% and that is ok , I can still get promoted because of previous month's and next few months".
Sounds like a lot of pressure every month though with these targets.
 

lostforgottensoul

MyPTSD Pro
By becoming aware and making it an active thought process
This is what my therapist is saying. I just, I dunno. It seems like an impossible high mountain but I guess doesn't everything? It's just frustrating that it's more implied then an actual thought. Like, it feels like something I can't grasp as I'm not actually saying this to myself. Not sure if that makes sense. It's just more of an impossible standard then anything. It happens in other areas of my life. All areas really. Just more obvious at work.


Does saying things out loud to yourself help? Like saying " this month I won't meet 80% and that is ok , I can still get promoted because of previous month's and next few months".
Maybe? Will try it. I usually talk myself down like this but it's more of a temporary fix, if that makes sense.

I'm sorry if I'm being difficult. Just a weird thing for me. And with alters (OSDD) it makes this so much more difficult as I'm trying to convince other "people" if you will, of this and trying to get them to corporate with me too and they hold thoughts and feelings too and it makes it so much more confusing for me.

ETA: maybe having alters is what's making this feel unreachable?
 
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Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
This is what my therapist is saying. I just, I dunno. It seems like an impossible high mountain but I guess doesn't everything? It's just frustrating that it's more implied then an actual thought. Like, it feels like something I can't grasp as I'm not actually saying this to myself. Not sure if that makes sense. It's just more of an impossible standard then anything. It happens in other areas of my life. All areas really. Just more obvious at work.



Maybe? Will try it. I usually talk myself down like this but it's more of a temporary fix, if that makes sense.

I'm sorry if I'm being difficult. Just a weird thing for me. And with alters (OSDD) it makes this so much more difficult as I'm trying to convince other "people" if you will, of this and trying to get them to corporate with me too and they hold thoughts and feelings too and it makes it so much more confusing for me.

ETA: maybe having alters is what's making this feel unreachable?
I don't think you're being difficult at all!

Yeah, it's really tough to try and be aware of something that is so ingrained it isn't fully conscious. But it is possible. For example,today I stopped myself being utterly compliant. For me, being compliant is without thought. But as soon as I realised I just agreed to do something that I didn't want to,and actually made no sense, I pulled it back. It was the feeling of "actually I don't want to do this" that made me aware I just complied again without thinking.
It's tough because it takes some much thought and practice. It's undoing a lifetime of behaviour.
But it sounds like you are aware because you're talking about it? So it's somehow about finding a way of interupting the usual way it plays out somewhere along the process?

Rooting for you!

Alters must make it harder? I'm not sure I can say much about that.
 

lostforgottensoul

MyPTSD Pro
Yeah, it's really tough to try and be aware of something that is so ingrained it isn't fully conscious. But it is possible. For example,today I stopped myself being utterly compliant. For me, being compliant is without thought. But as soon as I realised I just agreed to do something that I didn't want to,and actually made no sense, I pulled it back. It was the feeling of "actually I don't want to do this" that made me aware I just complied again without thinking.
It's tough because it takes some much thought and practice. It's undoing a lifetime of behaviour.
But it sounds like you are aware because you're talking about it? So it's somehow about finding a way of interupting the usual way it plays out somewhere along the process?
That makes a lot of sense. Thanks!


Alters must make it harder?
Yeah, it does. They hide things from me. Like memories that I can't remember but can feel. It's frustrating to say the least! Was wondering if that is causing some issue of it not being available to me or feeling like it's so unreachable but what you said up above makes so much sense!
 

grit

MyPTSD Pro
For some one who grew up in doublebind environment, I find I go to the opposite of what I am thinking/feeling and that gives me the idea to where the centre of the issue may be for a reasonable person (or reasonable side of me that is out to lunch at the moment of reflection). I learned very young implicitly that what I lived through was hostility and imagined/dreamed/fantasize/wished for safety and somewhat survived so now in real life, I still consciously and critically or intellectually do the same when I am under stress; otherwise, it is automatic.
For example, I am perfect will translate to I am a failure...and finding what is the middle depends on my critical thinking of the topic at hand.
 
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