Perfectionism: that little bitch.
Welcome back to week 4 my fellow badass people! One of the ways that we may notice that we are out of balance in the “care deeply AND don’t give a fuck” spectrum is when we struggle with perfectionism. Perfectionism is when we care too much about what other people think, what we look like, whether or not we are doing or saying the perfect things and striving for all around perfection all the time. Many of us struggle with wanting to be the perfect mom, the perfect partner, the perfect worker or business owner, having the perfect body (whatever the fuck that means), the perfect fill in the blank. But guess what? IT DOESN’T EXIST! So if we are striving for perfection all of the time and never jumping in and bathing in “good enough” waters, we start to grow this lie inside of us that says we are never good enough and that very quickly turns into shame. Another way of thinking about shame is the idea that we “are not good enough to belong as we are.” Perfectionism and shame go hand in hand and often result in paralyzing us from taking risks or jumping in to trying something new, being open to connecting or any other goals you might have. We have the blocking and paralyzing belief that “if it is not perfect, than it’s shit.” When we feed the perfectionist part of ourselves, when we are not satisfied with anything less than perfect and 100% all of the time, then we never get to a place where we feel whole. There is always something “wrong with us.”
For those of us who struggle with perfectionism, we struggle with the belief that our love and our worth are conditioned upon our performance and if we fail at that performance or accomplishment that we are pieces of shit. We think that if we let go of our perfectionism, we will stop being motivated to grow. We think perfectionism is a motivator, but it actually has the opposite effect. It becomes deeply rooted in fear, fear of failure, fear of being uncomfortable, fear of not getting love or approval because we are not perfect. It is rooted in scarcity. The belief that we are not enough and that we are lacking something.
Here’s a funny way my mind works. So I am working on being okay with not being perfect and then when I catch myself in my perfectionism, I’ll beat myself up about not being perfect and accepting the fact that I am not perfect. Isn’t that fun? So I should probably rename this post: “Perfectionism: I greet even you with compassion. I know you have been trying to protect me from failure AND I am choosing to practice love and kindness so kindly fuck off” No- wait- that’s not it. Damn- screwed up again. Well, that’s going to have to be good enough for now.
Take note of how perfectionism is actually different than striving for excellence. We need risk and change and trying new things to be excellent. If we only stay in our comfort zones and we only do what we know we are already good at, one- that’s pretty fucking boring and not at all badass to me and two- we never try the things that would make our lives extraordinary. Kiddos that struggle with perfectionism often don’t try to do things that they know they will struggle with. Some of the most gifted kiddos who have been told they are “smart” all their lives think that if they make a mistake, that must mean they are stupid, so they will give up or not try new things.
This is why it is so important for us to have a growth mindset rather than a fixed mindset. A growth mindset is being able to have the value of learning and growth rather than accomplishment and performance and pleasing other people. It’s developing a sense of humor and playfulness about our imperfections and learning to fuck up and make mistakes and laugh a little about them, assess what we learned, try to do better next time and move the hell on. A fixed mindset is the belief that we are either smart or stupid, talented or not, creative or not, and that those things can never be improved upon – they are fixed and stagnant. Study after study shows this isn’t true and study after study about joy and happiness also shows that those who have a growth mindset and embrace that woo woo mantra of “life is a journey, not a destination” tend to report higher levels of happiness and joy. Those of us who have learned to please others and perform our way to approval, love, belonging and worthiness are generally more miserable. So I am choosing to value happiness and joy over perfectionism. It is a hard transition, but my mantra this week often helps me in times of struggle. “Good enough is pretty fucking good.” So that is where we will end today. Good enough is pretty fucking good. Get some!