I am a recovering perfectionist

by Katie on March 27, 2014

I missed a blog post last week. And man, did I feel crappy about it.

In the beginning of the year I had made a commitment to blog once a week. I had been doing pretty well, but then last week I was exhausted, traveling for work, burning the candle at both ends. So I decided to take the week off.

I felt totally guilty about it. Like I had let myself down. I felt like I had failed because I couldn’t cross that one thing off of my to-do list.

As a recovering perfectionist, this is a trigger point. For me, it is a daily practice to recognize when I am beating myself down for failing to be perfect, or exhausting myself trying to attain perfection. I am usually conscious of where it shows up in my life. But it is still likes to seep its way in.

Perfectionism is often code for “oh, I’m just really good at everything I do”. An important distinction here—being a perfectionist is different from having a great work ethic, taking pride in your work, being detail oriented. It’s really about the intention behind it. Where is the need to be perfect coming from?

Brene Brown says it best when talking about perfectionism: “It’s a way of thinking that says this: ‘If I look perfect, live perfect, work perfect, I can avoid or minimize criticism, blame and ridicule,'”.

Yep. Perfectionism is a shield we put up to protect against criticism, to avoid being vulnerable. It was hard to admit that this is what I had been doing. But it was also liberating.

Nobody is perfect. In fact it is our vulnerabilities and imperfections that make us the beautiful and complex beings that we are. Perfect is boring. And prevents true connection.

Letting go of the need to be perfect is tough. Like I said, I am in recovery. I’m not sure it is ever fully cured. But it gets easier. When those feelings of shame and guilt enter, I am now aware of what is really going on. I have the tools to bring me back in alignment.

Where does perfectionism show up for you? At home, at work, with your friends? What if you let some of that perfectionism go?

We can still be excellent at what we do. We can strive to put out our best work, hold our commitments, and be the highest expression of ourselves. But we can also do it with love, ease and honesty. With authenticity and vulnerability. Yeah, so I missed a post last week. On to the next. I don’t have to beat myself up about it. I can breathe and move forward.

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