Perfectionism does not give you joy or success. Perfectionism is not about healthy achievement and growth.
Perfectionism is a defensive move. It is the belief that if we do things perfectly and look perfect, we can avoid judgement, blame or shame. We think it can protect us like an armour, when in fact it is the thing that prevents us from being seen who we truly are.
Perfectionism is not self-improvement. Perfectionism is striving for approval. Most perfectionists grew up being praised for achievement and performance (grades, manners, appearance, sports). Somewhere along the way, the adopted this belief system: I am what I accomplish. Healthy striving is self-focused: how can I improve? Perfectionism is other-focused: what will they think?
Perfectionism is not the key to success. In fact it is the contrary perfectionism is correlated with depression, anxiety, addiction and missed opportunities. The fear of failing, making mistakes, not meeting expectations and criticism keeps us away from healthy competition and growth.
Perfectionism is self-destructive simply because it doesn’t exist. It is an unreachable goal. It is more a perception than an internal motivation. And there is no way you can control perception. It is addictive because when we experience shame, judgment or blame we often believe we just are not perfect enough. ‘It is my fault I am feeling this way because I am not good enough.’
Everyone knows perfectionism, but how often and how much, varies per person. We all want to hide our flaws, manage perception in one or more situations.
AND Regardless of how addicted you are to perfectionism, in the end we all want freedom. This journey to freedom from perfectionism starts with self-compassion, shame resilience and self-ownership of who we are, where we come from, what we believe, and to realize how imperfect we all are.
It starts with being kinder and gentler to yourself and to each other. It starts with self-kindness, being warm and understanding when you fail or feel inadequate. Accepting that this is part of us being humans. We have to learn that we don’t over-identify with thoughts and feelings, so that we are caught up and swept away by negativity.
It takes time and hard work to change this pattern, this cognitive behavior. It is possible, challenging and liberating, cause freedom lurks at the end the tunnel.
There is a crack in everything; that is how the light gets in Leonard Cohen
Brene Brown – Daring Greatly