Recovering Perfectionists, raise your hand. I’m raising both of mine! Has perfectionism served you well? No? didn’t think so.
Did you know that perfectionism is an illusion?
We’re often embarrassed to admit when we’re afraid, but many of us openly identify as perfectionists.
Contrary to popular belief, it is fear, not perfectionism, that sits next to you, whispering lies that lure you into a false sense of acceptance.
“I’m just a perfectionist,” you say as you let opportunities pass by.
Perfectionism is a thief
In your quest to be the perfect mom, the perfect wife, the perfect business owner or team member.
As you aim to be the perfect human being, you lose sight of the fact that being a good mom, a good professional, or a good human being is good enough!
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not advocating for mediocrity, and I believe in life-long learning and progression. What I am saying, however, is that you can aim for being really good at what you do, and totally nail it!
You’ll always continue to improve your skills. But, when your goal is to be perfect in everything, all the time, the world ends up being robbed of your unique talent and influence.
When you’re caught up in the pressure of being perfect, it causes pain and panic. This self-inflicted stress prevents you from finishing.
Even worse, it prevents you from starting what is calling to your heart. You’re afraid that your efforts will never be good enough. What’s more, deep down, you’re afraid that YOU aren’t good enough.
Your family, your job, our world doesn’t need you to be perfect in every way. We simply need you to be you! This means that your perfectly imperfect self is good enough.
So what do we do?
Dr. Susan David, award winning Harvard Medical School Psychologist, TED speaker and CEO of Evidence Based Psychology, says that one thing we can do is get specific about our fears and even have fun at their expense.
“As a result,” she says, “the ugly ‘truth,’ that [fear that] has so much power over [us] loses that power, and is tamed.”
What does this mean?
It means you can snatch that elusive perfectionist disguise right off the face of fear and call it out by name.
“There you are, Fear of Rejection. I see right through your mask. You don’t serve me, you enslave me. I choose to look through a lens of love for myself. I will NOT reject ME anymore. Get out of here!”
You’ll know you have “Fear of Unworthiness” when you severely downplay your accomplishments. This fear nags at you to give all the credit to others for your contributions, and to minimize the awesomeness that is you!
Fear is also behind your insatiable desire to keep learning and learning and learning, rather than taking action and owning what you already know and can do.
You minimize your impact on your circle of influence when you hide behind fear.
Don’t wait for perfection to come along and sweep you off your feet; it’s nothing but an mirage that evaporates into frustration.
Power and strength comes from accepting your imperfections and learning to manage them so the underlying fear doesn’t manage you.
Fear masquerades as humility
I know this type of fear all too well. I thought I was being humble, but as it turns out, I was duped into believing humility is hiding my talent and skills.
I now see that confidently sharing and inviting others to join in learning and growing with me isn’t prideful at all.
Sharing your experience is a beautiful way to love, lift and lead those around you who need exactly what you have.
No story or struggle is insignificant; not even yours.
It’s time to put a stop to the illusion of perfection and begin to own your power by declaring:
“Aha! Fear of Unworthiness! You’ve been slinking in the shadows for too long. You told me I’m not enough, that I don’t know enough, that I should quit. You have no place here. Get out!”
With practice, fear becomes easier to detect
“Fear of Criticism? Pul-lease! There’s always a critic. I won’t listen to the few, loud critics who are never satisfied-they’re not even satisfied with themselves.
The people in my life and my higher power who support me, love me and accept me, are who I’ll listen to. Get out of here Fear of Criticism! ”
“Fear of Failure? Fear of Loss? Get out! Get out!”
Everyone feels fear
Fear just might be our greatest common denominator as siblings in humanity.
It’s job is to keep us safe; safe from embarrassment, safe from guilt, safe from pain, and safe from harm in general.
Fear also pushes us to grow. It isn’t always a bad thing, and it helps to remember that it’s not just ‘your’ experience alone, it is a human experience.
What’s often overlooked about fear, however, is that its power to enslave you comes from the stories you tell yourself about what might happen in the future.
You know, those stories that keep you worrying late into the night. The shocking stories you play out in your mind’s eye that make you shrink and feel afraid.
How often are you correct about the terrible details you imagined might happen? Perhaps, instead, you’ll consider imagining what could go well, or how much you could possibly enjoy a new experience.
There’s great power in imagining; you can use that power to lift yourself up, or tear yourself down. What will you choose?
Simply becoming aware is a great way to fight fear, regardless of why it’s creeping into your life. Seeing things as they actually are weakens its control over us.
Kick Perfectionism in the face
We figuratively wrap fear in a cute little socially acceptable bow and call it perfectionism. We wait for perfect, and it becomes our excuse.
It’s time we stare perfectionism down and kick it square in the face by calling it out by name,
“Hello Fear. I see what you’re up to. Get outta here!”
When you embrace your underlying fears, recognize that it’s ok to feel them and that you’re not alone, you gain power over it.
Remember this, however; you are under no obligation to listen to or believe fear when it pops up. You can choose to believe in yourself.
You can choose faith. You can take a few deep breaths and channel that fear into excitement and look for good things to come.
May 26, 2020