Perfectionism is a shield that we carry with a thought process that says this, ‘If I look perfect, live perfect, work perfect, and do it all perfectly, I can avoid or minimize feeling shame, blame, and judgement. (Brené Brown)
My mother’s house is always spotless. Even with eight children our house was always clean and tidy. When chatting one day she talked about her own mother who she could never please and how she always criticised her if something wasn’t perfect. My mother makes beautiful quilts and crafts but she can only ever see the imperfections not enjoy the overall creation. Her mother’s soundtrack still plays in her head.
To me the frightening thing is that this feeling that anything less than perfect is unacceptable has endured for my mother throughout her whole life and still subconsciously shapes her behaviour and reactions to life. She hasn’t pushed it on her family but she still holds herself to impossible standards.
When I think of all the soundtracks we now hear playing in our minds I worry even more. When I open a magazine I only see images of beautiful, perfect people. Anyone who is less than perfect whether that be too skinny one week or too fat the next is paraded and ridiculed with a sense of false pity. Advertising is constantly telling us if only we purchased this or that we would be beautiful and happy and life would be perfect.
The pressure to be perfect is everywhere. Our struggle to be authentic is at war with the constant expectation of being perfect.
It’s in our biology to trust what we see with our eyes. This makes living in a carefully edited, overproduced and photoshopped world very dangerous. (Brené Brown)
One of the keys to living a sustainable lifestyle is to let go of the need to be perfect.
The need to be perfect is highly stressful. If your need for perfection is no longer working for you it is time to confront it head on.
Step 1 – Acknowledge your perfectionism – Give that soundtrack in your head that points out your imperfections or failures a name. Recognise when it is playing
Step 2 – Challenge your perfectionism – Now you have learned to recognise the soundtrack, start challenging the messages. Learn to distinguish between perfect and good enough. Test what you think is good enough with a trusted friend.
Step 3 – Be openly imperfect – Try something new and let yourself do it badly. Reward yourself for trying.
At its root, perfectionism isn’t really about a deep love of being meticulous. It’s about fear. Fear of making a mistake. Fear of disappointing others. Fear of failure. Fear of success. (Michael Law)
Do you feel pressure to be perfect?