The Epidemic of Perfectionism

The Epidemic of Perfectionism

We have an epidemic of perfectionism: unrealistic expectations, standards and pressures. It is taking a toll on our relationships, our physical and emotional health, our families, our work and school performance.

And it is hiding right before our eyes – masked as a strong work ethic, high standards, attention to feeding and moving well, and a meticulous attention to detail that is the envy of so many. It also shows up as procrastination, avoiding, and not starting things that would further our health, our careers and our relationships.

As a result, exhaustion, loneliness, worry, fear of failure, constantly stressing about what other people think, poor body image, and ‘never enough’ beliefs haunt way too many people as they numb from feelings of not ____ enough.

The culprit?

The protector of Perfectionism.

It is a contagion that takes the desire to strive for excellence and distorts it into fearing mistakes, flaws, disappointments, and failure.

Leading from perfectionism is connected to anxiety, shame, procrastination, not asking for help, avoiding failure at all costs, and feeling exhausted from trying to please everyone.

And the tricky thing is that perfectionism is often celebrated, envied, and admired. It is seductive and can sneak up on all of us.

Brené Brown , PhD, LMSW and author of many books including her bestselling, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are, resonated with millions. She wrote about her research and life experiences that so many of us could relate to and shifted our global conversation on this powerful protector.

Here are some wisdom nuggets from Brené on the topic of perfectionism:

  • In the research there’s a significant difference between perfectionism and healthy striving or striving for excellence.
  • Perfectionism is the belief that if we do things perfectly and look perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgment, and shame.
  • Perfectionism is 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 being seen.
  • Perfectionism is also very different than self-improvement. Perfectionism is, at its core, about trying to earn approval.
  • Most perfectionists grew up being praised for achievement and performance (grades, manners, rule following, people pleasing, appearance, sports).
  • Somewhere along the way, perfectionists adopted this dangerous and debilitating belief system: “I am what I accomplish and how well I accomplish it. Please. Perform. Perfect.”
  • Healthy striving is self- focused: How can I improve? Perfectionism is other-focused: What will they think? Perfectionism is a hustle.
  • Perfectionism is not the key to success. In fact, research shows that perfectionism hampers achievement. Perfectionism is correlated with depression, anxiety, addiction, and life paralysis or missed opportunities.
  • The fear of failing, making mistakes, not meeting people’s expectations, and being criticized keeps us outside of the arena where healthy competition and striving unfolds.
  • Shame loves perfectionists – it is so easy to keep us quiet

So how do you respond when your inner perfectionist is wanting to lead your life?

Develop a practice to Wholehearted Living. Brené identified 10 guideposts to wholehearted living as a way to move away from perfectionism and move towards a more authentic and grounded life.

Attend Our Upcoming (re) Define Perfection Workshop

I am thrilled to be offering (re) Define Perfection: Choosing Flexibility Over Rigidity workshop on Friday, March 29th, 2019 at Potentia’s workshop space where we will be working through each guidepost and developing our own personalized plan to respond to how perfectionism shows up in our life.

This experiential workshop will offering space to reflect, create, and cultivate more confidence in face of the fears of perfectionism. I will also be integrated Internal Family Systems principles to add to your wholehearted living practices.

Gourmet food, creative supplies, and presents will be offering to all – along with awesome community and connection.

Space is limited so please read more and register here. We have a three month payment plan and a buy one bring a friend for half off offer available, too.

Sign Up For Our Online (re) Define Perfection Experience

And if you are not in San Diego, click here to be notified when we will be launching an online (re) Define Perfection experience.

Take This Free Assessment To Learn More

Curious how perfectionism impacts you? Take this assessment to learn more and consider joining us at our workshop next week to help combat the negative effects of perfectionism.

Email me your results and reflections – I would love to hear how your results impact you.

With gratitude –

Rebecca Ching, LMFT, Founder + CEO – Potentia Therapy, Inc.

To learn more about how Potentia could help you with Perfection + Shame struggles, please see here.

Our Potentia team is here to help. Learn more about our clinical team and what we have to offer here.

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