Career Growth, Empower Yourself

The Myths of Perfectionism

Perfectionism is not about wanting to do your best. Perfectionism isn’t about self-improvement, personal growth or progress. No, perfectionism is destructive and addictive.

Perfectionism impedes your ability to achieve success, because you’re never fully, completely and utterly invested in what you’re doing or creating when you’re a perfectionist. Perfectionism prevents you from taking a risk and going ALL IN because at the root of perfectionism is fear.

Fear that you’re making a mistake or that you’ll fail at something. Fear that you won’t live up to other people’s expectations. Fear that you won’t achieve what you really want to achieve.

Researcher Brene Brown has a term called life paralysis: this is missed opportunities and experiences because you’re too busy trying to be perfect that you never try something unless you’re absolutely certain you’ll succeed.

How often have you NOT done something because you knew you weren’t going to be perfect at it??

We’re so scared of failure, of making mistakes, of disappointing others (and ourselves) that we don’t try new things, we don’t take risks, and we don’t go out of our comfort zones and push the boundaries of what we’re capable of doing.

Perfectionism is an unrealistic and unattainable goal. (Nothing and no one by the way is perfect….look at how many times the iPhone has been revised or updated….perfectionism is never attained).

  • Perfectionism is destructive. Full Stop. Perfectionism hurts you.
  • Perfectionism is delusional, because often we want to be “perceived” by others as perfect. We cannot control nor manage other people’s expectations or feelings about us. We can only control our action and our responses to others. That’s it.
  • Perfectionism is also delusional and destructive because the quest for perfectionism never arrives and all the emotions and judgments we were hoping to avoid (like shame and ridicule, and blame, rejection and fear) never, go away, they creep into our lives whether we like it or not.

So, how do you overcome perfectionism?

  1. Develop an awareness of your perfectionist tendencies. –Perfectionism exists on a continuum and some people’s perfectionism creeps up only under certain circumstances or around certain people. Figure out your trigger points. When does perfectionism tend to occur for you?
  2. Acknowledge your vulnerabilities. Your fears and anxieties. Realize we all have our own individual fears and that you’re never alone in this journey.

For more information on perfectionism and the role that shame plays see:

Brown, Brene. (2010). The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are. Hazelden, Center City: Minnesota.