“NO!!! How COULD I?
What the actual FUCK? Do you think I’m some kind of fraud? Some kind of failure?
Why on the face of the PLANET would I ever produce B- work?!
I’m an A+ kind of woman… you must just not GET me.”
Oh, but she did.
I was just listening to a podcast but oh, Brooke Castillo, she hit me hard with this one.
Do B- work.
Get it OUT there in the world.
Typos? Oh well.
Not perfect? So sorry.
Done? Even better!
I had finally started to digest this, sink into it, and feel the energy of FREEDOM in letting go of perfectionism when I read this:
“Shame derives its power from being unspeakable. That’s why it loves perfectionists - it’s so easy to keep us quiet.” (Brené Brown, Daring Greatly)
Why is it that we allow ourselves to be so weighed down with shame, with perfectionism, and fear?
I know that for me it’s because… I simply never knew there was another way.
Through school I was the straight A student who BAWLED at parent teacher conferences over an A- (that was changed because it was given in error).
I was the good girl who broke no rules, told no lies, and was mortified when I unintentionally violated the dress code, twice.
But how does this affect me now? As a woman, a leader, a wife, a mother, and an entrepreneur?
Let me tell you. It. Is. Paralyzing.
Have you been there before too?
What if someone really hates this?
What if my family thinks I’m going to hell in a hand basket?
What if I offend people I love?
What if it’s not good enough to actually help anyone?
What if no one even reads it/listens to it/takes action on it?
And of course this leads to the REAL questions…
What if no one praises me?
What if I don’t get the attention I crave?
What if there are no pats on the back?
What if it isn’t as good as so-and-sos?
What if I fail?
Maybe reading those all written out feels like a punch in your perfectionistic gut, too. Love, it is time to shift that.
There is an ENERGY around this that is suffocating.
The WEIGHT of it really is paralyzing on a vibrational level.
You’ve been holding on, carrying this B.S. around while not really looking deeeeeep in there to shine a light into the shadows.
You’re not alone, and there is NO shame here. Let’s confess together, sister, “I am a recovering perfectionist and I give myself permission to bring this into the light.”
Since you’re ready… here’s the three major lessons I’ve learned from revealing and recovering from my perfectionistic shadow side.
#1) Perfectionism comes an insane fear that we must PROVE our rightness, innocence, and blamelessness.
The insane fear under perfectionism is deeply rooted in what will happen if we are - gasp - wrong?!
Now, we might think that there is punishment if our ACTIONS are wrong, or deeper yet we may fear that our pure existence is simply WRONG on some level. Maybe it’s because we’re a woman, unmarried, married, homosexual, have kids, don’t have kids, work, don’t work, were abused by our father, unloved by our mother, scolded by our teachers, shamed by our preachers - or any NUMBER of other things.
We are SO afraid that we will expose our own wrongness that we hide in our own fear. We close up, shut down, and don’t let anyone see our rawness, our vulnerability, our wounds, or our hurts.
While we hide those we also hide our glory, our gifts, and our strength along with them.
Now, let’s break down the difference between rightness, innocence, and blamelessness in a perfectionistic mind:
Rightness - I always know the correct information, I always have the right answer, and I will go to great lengths to prove how right I am
Innocence - I have not done anything wrong, I am not guilty, and no one can prove me otherwise
Blamelessness - I am right, never have been wrong, and I must make sure that everyone else has the same perception of me to prove it is so
I’m sure you can see how this drowns the spirit of a perfectionist.
What creative vision can possibly stand up to this scrutiny?
What life purpose can hold this kind of proof?
What children can bear this kind of pressure?
Which partner will be able to love under these circumstances?
By trying to prove ourselves, not be proven wrong, and convince everyone else of our perfection… we build walls around ourselves energetically, emotionally, and spiritually that keep us in a sort of perfectionistic prison.
This is what I learned as I began to heal layer upon layer in my life of the perfectionistic tendencies I had… Like:
Letting the house be less than perfectly clean.
Letting go of what it meant about me if my children “misbehaved.”
Releasing resistance around sexual intimacy for fear of not deserving pleasure.
Coming to terms with my own anxiety around being the perfect mother - and allowing myself to stop pumping breastmilk for my daughter.
Sharing my gifts and my message even when it meant fumbling a bit, pissing people off, and getting triggered myself along the way.
Take a nice deep breath, place your left hand on your heart and your right hand on your pelvic bowl. Feel yourself, your soul, your body, and breathe out love for yourself and others, grace for all the times you have held yourself to this wacky standard. What are some of the tendencies you feel to prove your perfection and control the perception other people have of you?
#2) Letting go of 66.67% of control actually leads to me feeling more in control and less CONTROLLED by my life.
A graphic designer friend of mine once shared with me a little “secret” to how he ran his business that was largely commission based, custom jobs. He said that there are three elements to any project: Time, Quality, and Price. He said that he only controlled one of them, the client controlled the other.
This means if someone comes to him and says “I’d like a thousand dollar website (price) in a week (time)” then he says “Alright, but it will only have one page and it will be from a template (quantity).” Or if someone asked him for an incredible, high end website (quality) and said they would only pay $2,000 for it (price) he would essentially quote them a far out finish date (time).
If that person doesn’t like his terms, then they simply don’t work with him. He HAS to be able to control one of those elements, but it’s only 33.33% of the picture.
Now, maybe you’re wonder what on earth this has to do with perfectionism. It’s where my little number “66.67%” came from, and it represents to me how we can shift, mold, and change things even when we have a rather SMALL percentage of control. We DO NOT have to control EVERYTHING… because that’s when life starts to CONTROL us.
What I saw happen as I wrestled with perfectionism is that I become increasingly obligated and victimized in my life. I would say yes to EVERYTHING because saying no might be wrong. I would claim that other people made me FEEL something because I couldn’t take responsibility for my own shit. Then, lastly, I’d spitefully try to micromanage and manipulate everything into perfection because I couldn’t see where I was hung up.
I had become disempowered by my own perfectionism.
What I learned from my friend is that I can totally let go of 66.67% of the imaginary rules.
I can release 66.67% of the standards I have for myself.
66.67% of the time I can say no, respectfully, and offer another way if I feel so inclined.
I can own my energy, my issues, and be really vulnerable and open, if I just let control go even the majority of the time.
Why, though, would we want to hang on to SOME control?
Well, I feel like there ARE some things I choose as non-negotiable. Things I truly care to make the effort for in my life. My soul work, my marriage, my relationship with my children. I can still apply this rule and lose control in those areas, but I will control the way I show up for my calling and the people I love most. This isn’t about controlling others, but about exerting self-control and mastery in a loving, grace-filled way.
I also can always control ME, my emotions, my actions, and how I choose to respond and move through the world.
When we have grace and love for other people, set THESE as our non-negotiables, and set aside the perfectionism… we can love with an open heart and mind. As we stop holding ourselves to these standards, we also release these silly standards for others and allow ourselves to RECEIVE more fully (since we’re no longer lying to ourselves about proving our worth).
Take a nice deep breath, place both hands on your sacral chakra, at the bottom of your ribs. Ask yourself what are the areas I have held on to control that I can simply let go of? Where will I stand in my power with a non-negotiable that I CAN control?
#3) The majority of the time… no one gives two shits anyway.
The hardest lesson I’ve learned about perfectionism is that… so often… we are the ONLY ONES WHO CARE.
We literally make ourselves emotional martyrs for the cause of perfectionism.
We MUST be punctual and how DARE anyone else be late.
We MUST do only A+ work all the time and how DARE anyone else do less!
We MUST cook all meals from scratch, clean our homes top to bottom, parent like we’re super nanny, work work work, werk werk werk, run all errands, and maybe on top of that all homeschool.
Whatever it is… I assure you… people who truly love you, couldn’t care less about all of those things being perfect.
They just want you.
Gorgeous woman, what would happen if you surrendered to THAT mindset?
What would like be like if all you wanted was YOU?
Fully expressed. Fully given. In the name of all things holy and imperfect.
Just because you’re here to share. To show up. To let shame shrivel by your audacious B minus-ness?
Oh MAN how would that feel?
Would you speak your truth more clearly?
Reach out to potential clients with ease?
Ask for support and invest in yourself with confidence?
Love your partner with reckless abandon?
Have divine, juicy sex more often?
Release triggers that are turning you into crazy mom?
Let’s take a moment and grieve the leaving of perfectionism from your life.
It’s time to GO and BE fully you. Let HER shine in all her less-than-perfection-glory.