An alarming number of people alive today call themselves perfectionists, myself included at one point. There are many versions and varieties of perfectionism, but that’s not what I want to focus on in this post. I want to talk about leaving our perfectionism behind, before we inadvertently bring it into our new, intuitive lives.
Part of living intuitively is the ability to be flexible, because it’s about feeling your way through life as much as thinking your way through life. But being a perfectionist means we are the opposite of flexible (even though we could be exceptionally good at pretending to be so). Perfectionists love to control anything and everything they can. We don’t like being caught unaware or unprepared. So we think ahead, all day every day. We beat ourselves up if what we said or did was not absolutely flawless. Our norm is high anxiety and constant worry. Sudden change is our worst nightmare.
I’m going to be very blunt – this has got to stop.
First, let’s break perfectionism down a little bit. We aim for perfect because we’re terrified of being perceived as not good enough. We talk negatively to ourselves in the hopes that we can shame ourselves into perfection before others judge us. Perfectionism is fear in action. You learned somewhere from someone that perfection does in fact exist and if you are less than perfect then you are not worthy. It’s that simple, and it’s that complicated. We all have our own quirks and ticks and particular mannerisms through which perfectionism shines, but the root of it is the same for us all. We feel that we must prove our worth, because simply existing as we are is not good enough.
But worth is inherent to existence.
Nobody (in their right mind) looks at a baby and thinks he’s worthless just because he doesn’t have a college degree, a six figure job, a partner, kids, a dog, a white picket fence, and a condo in Florida yet. Babies, in their purely innocent and helpless state, are completely worthy, and that does not change just because they grow taller.
It’s important to clarify here that there is a colossal difference between running away from what you don’t want and going in the direction of what you do want. A happy life is one in which you are focused on and following your joy, not one in which you are focused on and running away from your fears. Notice that whether you are going towards something or running away from something, you are focused on it, and what you focus on expands. The more you focus on what you’re afraid of, the more things you’ll manifest to be afraid of! I know it seems very counter-intuitive to us perfectionists, but focusing on what could go wrong is in fact NOT keeping us safe – it’s just keeping us miserable. Perfectionists live in fear.
The long and the short of it is that there’s no such thing as perfect. If we live our lives with fear at the wheel, we can never really be happy, at least not for very long, and happiness is what we truly want, not perfection. If being the best at something is the result of you following your joy and taking inspired action, then go for it! You’re focused on what you want, not on what you don’t want. But the idea that we must prove our worth is the opposite of joyful. When I say things like, “I want you to live a life which feels so good that you don’t have to cope with it”, (see previous blog) I don’t mean I want you to live a life without challenges or bumps in the road. It doesn’t mean if you’re feeling negatively that you’ve “messed up”. What I mean is, I want you to care about how you feel to such a degree that as soon as you notice an uncomfortable emotion you remind yourself that it’s not inherently bad feel that way, you know that you in fact have good reason to be feeling that way, you validate your own experience, and then take care of yourself in whatever way you need.
Stop focusing on trying to be perfect, and instead, focus on being your authentic self.