Let me allow you in a little to a side of my nature I don’t often speak about – I am a born perfectionist. Yes siree! I like being efficient, I get pleasure out of knowing I have tried my hardest to get the results. For example, when I am creating a new brochure, if the formatting is out, or the colour scheme not quite right, or if the picture doesn’t feel right, I do not move forward until I am completely satisfied… I know I drive people nuts with my perfectionism. If I make a mistake…well let’s just say for fleeting moments every now and then I fear I may spontaneously combust!
I have worked with so many perfectionists over the years and as with all things, it is wonderfully simple to dish out good and proven advice, however, it is a whole other kettle of fish to dish it up on your own plate.
Here’s the rub…perfectionism has its merits, a job well done is never a negative thing after all, however, where does it come from? If you, dear reader, like me are a self professed perfectionist, have you ever actually wondered or tried to pinpoint its place of birth in your life?
Neuroscience and psychology, along with ancient teachings from esoteric modalities put forth a dagger-to-the-heart realisation for every proud perfectionist…perfectionism is based in unworthiness.
Upon first conceptualising this, it can be almost sad that it was not more obvious to begin with. Of course feeling unworthy would push a person to deliver above and beyond the average. Of course feelings of inadequacy would cause a person to furiously prove otherwise.
Isn’t that a good thing though, I hear you ask? Surely if one feels unworthy and pushes themselves to be better, that is far more admirable than not doing anything about it at all?
Of course! However, the running theme of our blogs here and within the medical, scientific, and philosophical arenas is that there is much going on that we do not acknowledge because we do not know about it.
Remember that saying? It’s not what you know or what you know you don’t know, it’s what you don’t know that you don’t know, that’s what gets you!
It’s a mouthful that basically means we can’t work with something we have no knowledge of. There is two sides to the coin of each tendency, of each feeling, of each pattern of behavior we emit just because that’s ‘who we are’. The flip side of perfectionism is that you feel you have something to prove; that you don’t already feel worthy within your own skin.
We all know perfection is impossible and that it is found only in imperfection in reality. So why try so hard? Too hard? It is ok to miss a full stop here or there, to make errors, to even embarrass yourself – these are the limbs of the trees that if you are daring enough to climb out on, bear you fruit. Going out on these limbs, opening up to allowing yourself to be imperfect, will teach you more about who you are and who you can be than the box of fear that tells you that you are less than because you are flawed. Fear isn’t real, of course you are flawed, we all are and we cannot ever find love, know compassion or empathy or give ourselves room to grow and change, if we are stuck within a box.
Dare to both think and live outside the box and you might just find, you feel more worthy than you ever did stressing over minor disasters and mini catastrophes!
‘There is a big difference between the healthy and helpful pursuit of excellence and the unhealthy and unhelpful striving for perfection.’