In our last post we talked a little about perfectionism, and in the Do Less & Live More Workbook we start to peel back the first layer of it. (Psst… hold on and I’ll give you an opportunity to snag the free workbook if you haven’t yet.) Today I wanted to delve a little deeper into the topic.
I have struggled with perfectionism for as long as I can remember. And then in the past year, I realized I have finally (mostly) wriggled out of its grip. Maybe it’s just getting older, huh? 😆 Well, I’ve pondered what shifted for me, and I’m sharing in hopes these ideas will help you escape perfectionism too. The sooner the better! 👵🏻😉
In looking for Instagram hashtags (which apparently is a normal thing for people to do these days) 😆, I realized that there is an existing culture that looks at perfectionism as a virtue. I mean it sounds reasonable, right? Isn’t striving for greatness a good thing? We know that learning, growing, and working to develop ourselves are all very good things. But perfection doesn’t play into any of that.
As humans, we are all in an imperfect state. There is no getting around that, it’s in our DNA. To expect ourselves to be perfect, to look perfect, to never make mistakes, actually halts the process of learning and growing. Which brings us to the first way to let go of perfectionism:
#1 See it for what it really is.
There’s nothing beautiful about perfectionism. It’s an ugly trap that keeps us from experiencing life and keeps us from tapping into our full potential. When we are caught in the perfectionism trap, we become paralyzed with fear. We could free ourselves at any time, but it’s too scary to let our true selves be seen. Instead, we go to great pains to create a facade of perfection.
To keep up the facade, we can’t let anyone see us mess up. That scratches learning, growth, and success from the list, because none of those things come without vulnerability and failure. Nope, we just can’t risk it, and so we stay trapped.
See where perfectionism get us? Nowhere! Perfectionism is the enemy and we need to fight it. The world needs more people living into their true selves, sharing their gifts, and all the messy imperfection that comes with them. We need the real you!
Recognizing it is the first step because it allows you to step back and see things clearly. As you observe, you notice how perfectionism is showing up in your life and how it is keeping you under its thumb. And then you get mad and ready to do something about it. 😉 I know you are ready to win this battle, so let’s move on to the next step…
#2 Get curious about where it’s coming from.
Hmm… where does perfectionism come from? Why do we feel so not good enough? Everyone has their own story. Part of mine was that I felt a lot of shame related to things that happened in my family when I was very young. I didn’t understand what was going on, but I internalized the feeling and carried it with me. Using Aroma Freedom Technique and EFT (tapping), I was able to peel back the layers and take the emotional charge away from those memories.
Brené Brown talks about the root of perfectionism being shame. Get curious about what might be at the bottom of it for you. To start, you might just want to journal about your memories and where you see the root of perfectionism in your story. When we recognize where our behaviors are coming from, we can start to make more conscious choices.
If you’d like to dive deeper into this, I have a 4 part series of articles on changing emotional patterns that you might find helpful to read next or Pin for later: (HERE)
Affirmations can also help us change that old perfectionism programming that isn’t serving us. In the Do Less & Live More Workbook you’ll design your own anti-perfectionism affirmation, so get that before you go. 🙂
It’s not an easy fix, but it’s worth the effort to uncover the roots of perfectionism, dig them up, and give yourself room to grow. 🌱
#3 Become others focused (in the right way).
First, let’s talk about the wrong way to become others focused, because it’s another pit perfectionists are prone to fall into. That bottomless pit is comparing ourselves to others.
We all know comparison is the thief of joy, but man, sometimes it’s hard not to do it, right? 🤦♀️ Especially in the age of social media, where we are constantly getting snapshots of other people’s best moments. We have to remember how easy it is to filter those Instagram photos and make everything look amazing. Other people’s lives aren’t perfect either. They clear laundry, toys, and papers out of the way to get that perfect picture too. #admitit 🤣When you're tempted to compare your life to someone else's social media snapshot, just imagine them clearing laundry, papers, and toys out of the way to take a picture. Because that's probably how it went down. #letsbereal #lifeismessy Click To Tweet
It’s all in how you look at things, so be careful what filter you are putting on your own life. When you’re tempted to compare, shift yourself to a state of gratitude. That means counting your own blessings, not other people’s. 😉
So how can we be others focused in a good way? Well, perfectionism has us focused on ourselves. We worry if we are good enough, if others will like us, if we might say or do the wrong thing (and heaven forbid we did, we have to sit and beat ourselves up about it for a week). 🙄 These thoughts all shrink us further into our own little worlds. To get out, we need to focus on others.
What can you do for someone else? Do you know someone who might be lonely and in need of a phone call or message? Someone sick or with a new baby who would appreciate a helping hand or a meal cooked for them? And hey, what can you do for your community? Get interested in other people and how you can be a contribution and add value to their lives. Hey, you could even start with animals and work your way up to people. #introvertlife 😜
The point is, when we focus on others there simply isn’t time to worry about keeping up facades. In all our imperfection, we can still be a blessing to someone else.Perfectionism shrinks us back into our own little worlds. The cure is to get out and focus on others. What can you do to make someone else's day better? Be a contribution. In all our imperfection, we can still be a blessing to others.… Click To Tweet
#4 Embrace that you are worthy and loved in imperfection.
Yes, this is the hardest one. Why is it so hard to accept ourselves as worthy? Sometimes we are going to mess up. There is no way to exempt ourselves from that inevitability. We see others’ worthiness and we love them as they are, and yet we often won’t do the same for ourselves.
I said I was mostly cured of perfectionism because I still have that fear that I won’t be loved or accepted if I mess up. I know not everyone understands the real me, and that feels a little scary. After all, our instinct is that we need to be accepted by the tribe for survival. The problem is, in our modern world the tribe has gone nuts and to thrive we have to be willing to be different.😯
It takes courage to step out and let ourselves be truly seen, knowing that the risk of rejection is real. We have to love ourselves enough to know that we will be okay whether or not we receive approval from someone else. If our inner foundation is shaky, we’ll always be looking for outside validation to stabilize us.
Here is an exercise you can do to work on your self love. And yes, it sounds crazy and you aren’t going to want to do it. And it’s probably going to make you cry your eyeballs out. But it is powerful. Stand in front of the mirror and look into your eyes. Tell yourself “I love you” until you mean it. Literally commit 10 minutes to standing there telling yourself this. Consider that you are making up for lost time. 😉
Alternatively, you can tailor this exercise to perfectionism or something you’ve been beating yourself up about by saying “(Your name), even though you are struggling with (insert habit or issue here), I love and accept you.”
Even though we mess up, we are still lovable. Some of us didn’t fully experience that foundation of unconditional love as children, and it’s something we have to reprogram our minds for. Are you game for the exercise? Try it this week, 10 minutes the first time if you can manage, and 2 minutes every day after that. 💗
I hope these ideas help you start the process of letting go of perfectionism. After all, there’s a lot of awesomeness inside of you that needs to get out. 😘
P.S. If you’d like to do some reading or listening to help you on the journey, I highly recommend Brené Brown’s work. Her book The Gifts of Imperfection is a great place to start. You can snag it on Amazon here. (affil. link)
What tips will you be trying first? Leave a comment and let me know what you think. And don’t forget to get your free Do Less & Live More e-workbook, which includes a project focused on overcoming perfectionism.