You’ve probably read plenty about how perfectionism keeps us stuck and prevents us from moving forward.
But what if it’s not perfectionism that is keeping us stuck—what if it’s our relationship to perfectionism?
I’ve had an affair with perfectionism for most of my life. As a recovering perfectionist, I feel quite qualified to say a thing or two about it. In the past couple of years, my relationship with perfectionism has shifted quite dramatically.
I spent most of my life attempting to be “perfect.” I used my perfectionism as an excuse for just about everything—why I wouldn’t take action, why I took so long to do something, why I was so judgmental of others. I went through a phase where I took great pride in my perfectionism—that’s why I have such an attention to detail and am a great employee! I’ve even tried to cure myself of it. And still, that didn’t seem to bring me any relief.
That is when I decided to transform the way I define perfectionism and what it means to me by taking a look at some of the common misconceptions I was having about it.
Misconception #1—I am not already perfect
This one took me a while to truly accept. It’s sometimes easy to say you’re already perfect, but do you truly believe it? Do you honestly know that if you say the wrong thing or fail at something that you’re still okay? Do you live your life from the belief that perfection is not something to be achieved “out there” but is something that exists “in here”?
When this shifted for me, my entire life changed. All of a sudden I wasn’t concerned if the font was just so or my hair was just right or the way I said something came across correctly. I wasn’t afraid to try something and fail. Why? Because none of that changes the fact that I am already perfect. There is nothing I need to do to prove otherwise. Which leads me to the second misconception.
Misconception #2—Perfection is achieved by “doing” things a certain way
Basically, if we are already perfect (which we are), then there is nothing we need to or can do to be otherwise. Perfection is experienced by “being” whole and complete just the way we are. We can correct this misconception by saying perfection is achieved by “being” a certain way.
When I “am” perfect, that is a state of being. To “be” perfect means we truly accept all the parts that make up the whole of who we are—that means the parts we don’t like along with the ones we do. Because, here’s the thing: perfection does not require our stamp of approval. Which leads me to the final misconception.
Misconception #3—Perfect means things going exactly as I think they should go
For a long time, I used to think my hair was perfect when it looked just the way I wanted it to. Or the workshop I led was perfect because it had the number of people I wanted show up. Then, it occurred to me that perfection has nothing to do with what I want or don’t want. Perfect means things going exactly as they are meant to go.
Once I finally learned to accept that nothing is an accident and there is perfection in all things, I could release my need for things to be just how I wanted them to be. Just because the number of people at my workshop was different than what I wanted doesn’t mean it wasn’t perfect—it may have been exactly what I needed in order to learn an important lesson about perseverance. We never know how each experience is preparing us for the perfect unfolding of life.
I want to leave you with one final thought. Perfectionism is not something to shun—we simply need to transform our relationship with it and see that we are already perfect without having to do anything.
It’s not about shunning perfectionism; it’s about transforming what perfect means.
If you’re interested to learn more, I’ve been talking about perfectionism a lot lately in some great interviews where we explore what perfect truly is and how it’s had an impact on my life. And grab your copy of my ebook on this very topic while it’s still free! (Just scroll to the bottom of the page to download your copy.)