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The Perfectionistic Paradigm

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"Perfectionism is not a quest for the best. It is a pursuit of the worst in ourselves, the part that tells us that nothing we do will ever be good enough- that we should try again" - Julia Cameron

Do you have a perfectionist in your life? Are you that perfectionist in your own life? Are you at times exhausted by the feeling that you have to do everything "right", without really understanding how exhausted you are with this never ending pressure? Or does your perfectionism extend to those you are in a relationship with, expecting them also to be mistake-less?

Those of us who struggle with perfectionism actually don’t always recognize it. It’s often an old ingrained habit and we loose the ability to see the negative impact it has on our creativity as well as the people around us.

For those who exhibit perfectionistic habits, they will often report struggling with anxiety or depression. Often they fear the future and the pressure they feel not to misstep. They also struggle with painful reflections of the past where they constantly criticize the places they perceive as “imperfect”

Let’s face it, as much as we may strive for perfectionism, it is never maintainable. Due to this inevitability, we may feel disappointment and failure in ourselves.

We have lost the ability to appreciate what we learn from failure or imperfection and therefore often don’t grow as gracefully as we may if we had a more realistic expectations of our performance.

Can we heal? YES!

It takes practice and some discomfort to create different and more constructive self talk.

Below you will find a place to start if the pressure for that unachievable perfection has exhausted you and impacted your relationships negatively:

  1. Notice when no achievement is successful enough. We have to own our perfectionistic qualities before we can work to adjust them.

  2. Set up times to practice being imperfect with low hanging fruit. For example, if we are cooking a meal… purposefully over cook the food and recognize it was just one meal and everyone survived and we are still categorically and imperfectly ourselves. Discomfort, even emotional pain, is expected … we can remind ourselves that we will be ok and the feeling will pass.

  3. Create new self talk. We can Imagine ourselves as a little children who are imperfect. Would we berate them or would we find a way to remind them that imperfection is a human condition and we keep moving forward to the next experience.

As we practice this skill over and over again with small things while recognizing that the discomfort does not last, we will be able to use this in bigger and more significant circumstances. This takes time… so be careful when noticing perfectionism sneak in here… trying to be perfect at releasing our perfectionism.

The key is reminding ourselves that we are no different than that child who continues to learn and grow imperfectly.

The more we honor the gifts of imperfection, the more tolerable these moment will be.

As a result, we will actually expand to greater fearlessness and release unnecessary anxiety and depression.

Reading Recommendation: The Gift of Imperfection by Brene Brown


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