Perfectionism is something that has been on my mind. When we are focused on things being “perfect,” it can be the death of joy, progress, and/or forward movement. It is something I have been trying to find the “perfect” way to describe. Ha! There it is again.
What are your thoughts on perfection? Is it what you are striving for? Is it what you are waiting for . . ? For everything to be perfect? For your marriage to be perfect BEFORE you are happy? For your relationship to be perfect BEFORE you decide to get married? For you to be perfect at your job BEFORE you cut yourself some slack? For your resume to be perfect BEFORE you apply for that new job? For your body to be perfect BEFORE you love yourself?
Yes, it is important to have intentions, visions, dreams, and to work towards them, but when we don’t give them room to breathe when we try and achieve them in a “perfect” way it is exhausting and can end up holding us back.
When we are striving for perfection we become highly self-critical, we feel like nothing we do is ever good enough like there is always something that we could have said or done differently. We focus on what we did not accomplish, versus what we did accomplish.
Perfectionism can also cause us to swing to the other extreme, where we become paralyzed by fear of making a wrong or bad decision, so we make no-decision. We procrastinate and keep putting things off that we want to accomplish in our lives. It also holds us back from trying new things.
There are many reasons that perfectionism can show up in our lives, although the one that I see the most is due to living with unhealed trauma.
Let me give you an example of a client I’ve worked with. She grew up feeling unsafe in her home because her dad was an alcoholic. To try and create safety for herself, she was always trying to be the “perfect” child, the “good” girl so that her dad would not get upset.
She equated being safe with being “perfect.” This continued through her adult life, it helped her feel like she was in control. Yes, she was successful and accomplished many things in her life, although it was exhausting. No matter how well she did in life, she always felt like it wasn’t enough. She would also get angry, frustrated, and disappointed when the people in her life did not also strive for perfection.
The stress from wanting herself and others to maintain perfection eventually took a toll on her physical and mental health.
It didn’t happen overnight, but once she began to process, heal and move through her childhood trauma of growing up with an alcoholic parent, she realized that she could feel safe without having to be “perfect,” that things would not fall apart and she could still be successful. Even more importantly, she stopped being so hard on herself and began to treat herself with compassion.
Do you have perfection tendencies?
Here is a simple, yet powerful prayer you can use when you catch yourself trying to be perfect. The prayer is called the Ho’oponopono (ho-oh-pono-pono) prayer. It consists of repeating the 4 following phrases:
1. I am sorry.
2. Please, forgive me.
3. Thank you.
4. I love you.
Practice repeating these 4 phrases daily, especially when find yourself focusing on perfection. Instead of being hard on yourself, repeat the prayer at that moment. It will help you prevent the smaller everyday stressful situations from turning into anger and resentment that your body, mind, and soul will hold onto.
When you repeat the 4 phrases, it will help clear your mind of the unconscious beliefs, thoughts, and traumas that can keep you feeling stuck, which can hold you back in life.
Remember – it is about Progress Not Perfection. It is about doing your best, moving forward, and letting go of trying to control/create the “perfect” outcome.