Mindful Monday: The Problem with “Perfect”

For many of us, the quest for perfection is constant and is often so deeply engrained in our thought patterns and behaviours that we don’t notice how much control and influence it has over our lives.

Last week we explored the feeling of having “enough” and always striving for more without attaining any real sense of fulfillment. Perfectionism perpetuates this way of thinking and feeling. If we could just work harder and be better at eating well, getting in shape, spending quality time with our families, saving money (and on and on)….life would be that much better and everyone around us would recognize our efforts. This last part is key with perfectionism; if I’m able to perfect a way of being or doing, people will notice and I will be more valued.

The problem with perfect is this: IT DOESN’T EXIST.

Perfectionism is a vicious cycle that creates anxiety, increases shame and guilt, and destroys self-love – which, let’s be honest, faces enough adversity as it is! We need all the self-love we can get.

When we take time to STOP and recognize that this rat race of perfectionism is not all that it’s cracked up to be, this is the beginning of change and opening the doors to the beauty of who we are. Not who we should be…but who we are at the core. 

When I teach my group classes, what I love the most is when people start to share how they really feel. When one person shares their truth it gives permission for the next person to share and then the next .Magic happens. People feel ‘wow it is safe to be real. I won’t be judged’ and a big revelation - “I am not alone in how I feel.”

I’ve noticed ‘The Perfectionist’ coming up a lot in my own mind lately. Interestingly, it seems to happen more when I am expanding and opening up to new things, growing, and stepping out of my comfort zone. Tuning into the “I’m not enough” storyline made me aware of how deflated and sad I felt when I bought into the thought.

I don’t always catch the thought right away but when I do, I realize I get to choose what I want to focus on. I have the opportunity to change the narrative and rather than continue to think, “I’m not enough”, I have chosen the mantra, “I am enough. I am more than enough. I am strong, resilient and whole. I have unique gifts and talents that the world needs. I am enough”.

There is power in relaxing and letting go of these limiting beliefs.

I love Brene Brown’s work. Here’s what she says about perfectionism…

“Perfectionism is not the same thing has striving to be your best. Perfectionism is the belief that if we live perfect, look perfect, and act perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgement, and shame. It’s a shield. It’s a twenty-ton shield that we lug around thinking it will protect us when, in fact, it’s the thing that’s really preventing us from flight.”

How does this take shape in our everyday lives? Try this:

Observe ‘The Perfectionist’. If you judge it or try to push it away, you are feeding it and giving it more strength. Remember: what you resist persists.

Instead, imagine you are sending LOVE to this part of your consciousness, to the part of you that feels inadequate in some way or another. Take away the fight and replace it with love.

A mindfulness practice with regular meditation is a wonderful antidote to this attachment or addiction to perfectionism.  As you go inward and connect with your true self, the desire to be anything other than who you really are begins to fall away.

This week, try embracing a new mantra that you can think or say during your day. Simply, “I am enough” or as Brene Brown says, “I am perfectly imperfect”.

THIS is self-love.

Self-love is some of the most important work we do and often, having the support and encouragement of others can make a big difference. When we come together, we hold space for others and also for ourselves which is not always easy to do.

I will be running an upcoming ‘Summer of Love’ series where we will be bringing ‘The Perfectionist’ to the Light, embracing it with love, and transforming it into wholeness and beauty. The series starts Wednesday July 11th and if you desire a supportive, loving space to focus on you, I hope you’ll join me. For more info and to register please visit my website here(link).

Wishing you a wonderful week,