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Is your perfectionism holding you back? Do you regularly procrastinate because you are waiting to get things perfect? In this episode, Jen explains how the pursuit of perfection can perpetuate shame, blame and judgement and why it’s far more productive to strive for excellence, not perfection.

Did you enjoy the podcast today? Please let me know by leaving a review on Apple Podcasts. Every month I draw one lucky reviewer to have a free one-hour consultation with me. Also, remember to subscribe wherever you’re tuning in from so that you always catch the next episode.

SHOWNOTES

Excellence – The quality of being outstanding or extremely good

Perfection – faultless, free from any flaw 

Are you holding yourself back because of perfectionism? 

Perfectionism isn’t real! Brene Brown has done some incredible work around perfectionism and the impact it has on our lives. Knowing how stuck I got in striving for perfection in my younger years, I wanted to share this with you in case you are doing the same to yourself.

The four destructive traits of perfectionism

According to Brene, there are four destructive traits of perfectionism: 

1. Perfectionism is self-destructive 

It fuels the primary thought, “If I look perfect and do everything perfectly, I can avoid or minimise the painful feelings of blame, judgement, and shame.”

2. Perfectionism is an unattainable goal. 

It’s more about perception than an internal motivation to do a great job. It’s the desire to not get stuck in the pain of feeling shame, blame and judgement. But there is no way to control perception, no matter how much time and energy is spent trying.

3. Perfectionism is addictive. 

When we experience shame, blame and judgement, we often believe it’s because we weren’t perfect enough. But rather than questioning this belief process, we become more driven to look and do everything just right.

4. Perfectionism sets us up to feel shame, blame and judgement 

As you can see from the previous point, perfectionism drives our desire not to feel shame, blame and judgement, but the reality is it leads us to more shame, blame and judgement. We get more of what we are trying to avoid. 

What perfection is NOT

Brene also speaks about what perfectionism is not: 

  • Perfectionism is not the key to success. It’s not striving for excellence. It’s not about healthy achievement and growth. 
  • Perfectionism is not self-improvement. Perfection is, at its core, about trying to earn approval. 
  • Perfectionism is not a way to avoid shame. It’s what creates it.

How do you know if you’re a perfectionist?

There are two main ways to help you identify if you are a perfectionist.

1. Are you pushed by fear? 

This is about not achieving your goals vs being pulled towards achieving them. Are you immobilised? Are you procrastinating as a regular behaviour, waiting to get it perfect? Are you so scared of having it not perfect that you do nothing?

2. Are you defensive?

Do you take criticism well? We tend to take everything to heart when trying to get everything perfect. We feel we’re not good enough, so we have to justify why we’ve done it a certain way and get defensive.

I was a perfectionist when I was younger. Never as good as my older sister and consistently tried to prove who I was. She was School Captain, a straight A student and got Dux of the School. She was good at everything. Meanwhile, I left school at 15, failing most subjects and had ADHD – a creative brain.

Eventually, my pursuit of perfectionism helped lead me to burnout. I went and sought help, which is one of the major steps I used to help break the cycle. They suggested I leave a fork in the sink at night (something simple that could be left undone or not perfect). I thought I was going to explode. But I did it. Night after night until I did it comfortably uncomfortable.

Today I strive for excellence. I always do my best with the information I have and how I am at that time. 

I live by the Google model – I get it to 80% right and get it out there. I never see suggested tweaks to my work as criticism. I welcome tweaks to help me improve what I have done.

Healthy Life Hacks

The Healthy Life Hacks I want to share with you today are:

  1. If you need professional help with being a perfectionist, please seek help. 
  2. Maybe try leaving a fork in the sink at night if that is something that you can relate to.

Did you enjoy the podcast today? Please let me know by leaving a review on Apple Podcasts. Every month I draw one lucky reviewer to have a free one-hour consultation with me. Also, remember to subscribe wherever you’re tuning in from so that you always catch the next episode.

Are you looking for more great resources? Get a free copy of my Feed Your Body ebook here and be sure to explore my blog while you are there.