Perfectionism is a recipe for never feeling good enough and can keep you well and truly stuck. And it’s something we see a lot in our Lightning Process clients.

One of my favourite books on this topic is ‘The Gifts of Imperfection’ by Brené Brown which I highly recommend.

Through years of research into shame and vulnerability, Brené has an amazing understanding of perfection and its detrimental effects on the people she studied.  Her book really resonates with me and some of my own struggles around perfection, so here’s a brief summary of some of my key takeaways.

Perfection is not:

  • The same as striving for excellence or healthy achievement.
  • About self-improvement or growth.

Perfection is:

  • Defensive and trying to protect us from being blamed and judged.
  • About others’ perceptions and focusing on what they think about us, and trying to earn approval.
  • Self-destructive and addictive.

A friend shared a story about when they were 10 years old. Their school report was grades of all ‘A’s’ and one ‘B’.  The only thing their Dad commented was, “why is that a B?”  The message received by them as a 10-year-old was, only A’s are good enough and they created the dangerous belief: I am what I accomplish and how well I do it.  It’s scary how that belief affected their confidence for years.

“Perfection is the 20-ton shield we lug around, thinking it will protect us, when in fact it’s the thing that’s really preventing us from being seen.”  Brené Brown

Brené’s research showed perfection hampers achievement and is correlated with depression, anxiety, addiction, life paralysis and missed opportunities.  With it comes the fear of failing, making mistakes, not meeting people’s expectations and being criticized.  These symptoms of perfection can keep people well and truly stuck for years!

For some people, perfection shows up when they’re feeling vulnerable, for others, it can be compulsive, chronic and debilitating.

Addressing perfection

The key to addressing perfection is moving your focus away from what others think, to one where “I am enough”.  It’s about owning your story, appreciating your imperfections and working on your resilience and self-compassion.

Start moving towards a life where you are enough by being kind and compassionate to yourself.  Check what your inner voice is saying and the tone it uses.  This article is all about positive self-talk.

Seek out human connections and create a support network.  Identify someone you can talk to who will act as a sounding board as well as provide you with an objective opinion.

Include mindfulness practices into your daily routine to help you gain perspective and make good decisions.  A few ideas are gratitude journaling, yoga, meditation, drawing or taking a walk in nature – whatever works for you.

The Lightning Process is a perfect way (sorry, I couldn’t resist) to help you address perfection and the ways it affects you.

If you struggle with perfection, contact us and find out how we can help you.