Learning to Let Go of Perfectionism
Do you strive for perfection, and feel constantly disappointed that you never get there?
Do you find yourself putting things off because you can’t do them perfectly? Or worse, never sharing the things you do because they’re not “perfect”?
Hello, my name’s Lottie and I’m a perfectionist.
It’s been no easy feat for me, let me tell you, particularly as I grew up with a mentally ill father who has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). He liked to dictate his perfectionist needs and twisted compulsive behaviors to our family. We learned to obey or suffer.
Not only did I have to do everything “right”, if it wasn’t “right”, which in a person with OCD’s view is a common issue, I felt his wrath.
What did I do? I became a people pleaser with low self-esteem and a desperate need to get things right. To the point of rather not doing things at all than risk getting them wrong.
This leads to a superbly restricted life, and keeps you well away from your true purpose. It sucks, and in my opinion contributes greatly to poor health.
That’s not to say that I believe my poor health is purely a result of perfectionism, or my dad’s behavior. However, neither of those things has helped.
As I watch fellow perfectionists around me, through the lens of recovery, I can see that perfectionism is stopping women from sharing their amazing gifts with the world. This is a travesty.
Luckily, we’re of an age where there is great research into this and there are strong calls to drop perfectionism, non least than from Brené Brown:
“Understanding the difference between healthy striving and perfectionism is critical to laying down the shield and picking up your life. Research shows that perfectionism hampers success. In fact, it’s often the path to depression, anxiety, addiction, and life paralysis.” – Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection
Have you noticed that people with a fatal diagnosis suddenly achieve more, and often incredible things, in the short period of life they have between diagnosis and death? More than they did in the years of life living up to diagnosis?
I speculate, not having done research, that this has a lot to do with the dropping of perfectionism and no longer fearing failure. What’s there to fear when you know the end is near?
I’ve experienced something like this myself. Since my near death experience after my bowel surgery in 2013, I too have let perfectionism and fear of failure go. My life has since catapulted forward with success after success, amazing experience after amazing experience.
My coaching practice and writing is a culmination of me living on purpose and it rocks!
I feel certain you don’t need to follow my lead and nearly die, or get a fatal diagnosis, to drop perfectionism and find your true purpose. The first step is recognizing what perfectionism is.
Here’s a definition of perfectionism:
Perfectionism (psychology): Perfectionism, in psychology, is a personality trait characterized by a person’s striving for flawlessness and setting excessively high performance standards, accompanied by overly critical self-evaluations and concerns regarding others’ evaluations” (Perfectionism (psychology) In Wikipedia. Retrieved April 21, 2015, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perfectionism_%28psychology%29)
Once you recognize what it is you can raise your consciousness to counter its effects. You learn to put that inner bitch back in her box!
When she comes at you with: “ You’re no good at this” counter it with a rebellious: “Screw you bitch, good or not I’m doing it”.
When she throws the line: “It’s not good enough!” you go at her with a sturdy: “We’ll see about that.”
When she tries to burn you with: “I wouldn’t bother if I were you ‘Miss B’ is far better at it than you, leave it to the experts.” You flick that bitch a middle finger (*collective drawing in of breath*, did Lottie really just suggest that? Yes Ma’am she did!). You then tell her to get back into her damned box and leave you alone because you’ve things to do and it’s all about progress over perfection.
Now write that down: “PROGRESS OVER PERFECTION” in big letters on a post it and stick it on your mirror. Then every morning repeat it five times out loud.
Then, work out what that next baby step is that you need to take to achieve your goals and fulfill your dreams. Take that step whether it’s perfectly executed or not.
Beauty is not in the art of perfection but in getting things done.
Where in your life might you be holding yourself back with perfectionism?
All of my love,
Photo Credit: Kelly Hsiao
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