This blog was inspired by a small but mighty chapter in Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly about perfectionism. Everything about it resonated so strongly with me that I couldn’t help but write some thoughts and share it here.
At some point, I was introduced to the idea that perfectionism is the enemy of good and that good could be enough. The problem is that when perfectionism has been part of many aspects of your life, it’s not easy to shake it off. In most of my adult life, I’ve always strived for excellence, be it with grades at school (ever since I can remember), my jobs, or projects. And I always felt like that was the right thing to do.
By reading this chapter, I learned that there’s a difference between striving for healthy excellence and perfectionism.
What Causes Perfectionism?
1. Perfectionism is not the road that leads to finding purpose and fulfillment, it’s the detour.
2. Perfectionism is not about healthy achievement and growth, it’s the belief that by doing things perfectly, we somehow avoid being blamed, judged, or ashamed. This means that the reason behind perfection is pure fear and a form of shame.
3. We might think that perfectionism is shielding feelings of shame when in fact, it is the one thing that’s preventing us from being fully seen.
4. Perfectionism is about earning approval and driven by “What will people think?” A healthy strive for growth is self-focused and looks inwards, “How can I improve?”
5. Research shows that perfectionism hampers achievement and it’s correlated with anxiety and depression.
6. The fear of not living up to expectations prevents us from growing and stepping outside our comfort zones.
7. Perfectionism is self-destructive simply because it doesn’t exist. It’s an unattainable goal that right from the start, is setting us for failure.
8. When we do feel judgment or shame, we immediately link it back to not being “perfect enough” which brings us back to a distorted reality.
How to Stop Perfectionism?
9. To break us free from perfectionism, we need to move from “What would people think?” to “I am enough.” And that’s a long journey that takes some inner work starting with self-compassion, shame resilience, knowing our worth, and owning our story.
10. The best way to own our story is to understand and feel proud of where we come from, what we believe in, and that life itself is imperfect. This is the meaning of belonging instead of fitting in.
11. One of the most effective and practical ways to separate from perfectionism is to start
I was in awe after reading this chapter especially because I’m constantly and consciously working in spite of perfectionism every time I create something outside my comfort zone. We tend to have these narratives at hand telling us that we don’t have the credentials to do something, or that we are not knowledgeable enough to share responsibly, or that someone else could do a better job. But these are all fears in word form.
After internalizing this, it’s clear where all of those thoughts are coming from and how to get past them more effectively. I thought this was extremely useful and I hope you think so too.
Own your story proudly, break free from perfectionism, and start creating!
Because here’s what you should be reminded of, you are and will always be more than enough.