Oh that vicious circle of perfectionism... Perfectionism is something that many of us are dealing with on a daily basis.
Even if you've been on your personal development and self-leadership journey for a while, you can still have patterns that show up. There are different levels and it's a process.
I already wrote an article about self-sabotage in which I was talking about perfectionism, (read it here in a new window) but today, I want to talk more in depth about perfectionism and how to actually let go of perfectionism.
In this article you'll find resources that will help you on your journey to overcoming perfectionism so that you breakthrough your next level of success!
We will tackle:
Busting the perfectionist in you (update of Nov. 5th)
Enjoy the read and if you want to learn more in depth about this and really get to your next level of self-leadership and increase your impact on your community through your business and your self-leadership embodiment, check my program "From self-sabotage to Unlimited" or book a free call and let's have a chat about it.
The vicious circle of perfectionism and how to break it
I call it a "vicious circle" because you feel you're not good enough so you set super high expectations.
You set those expectations from a place of "not being enough".
Rarely because you fully believe in yourself and love yourself. It's like a challenge...
You then do your best to match your own (often) unrealistic expectations.
And then you beat yourself up for not being perfect... so you set another expectation... and repeat...
Each breakthrough precedes a new level of success.
Each new level of success has its limiting beliefs and subconscious blocks, right?
You can of course overcome them. It doesn't have to take you longer than necessary and you can reach your next level of impact and fulfilment :)
In reality, we are enough and we need to remember that. We need to unlearn the false beliefs and to reprogram our minds to accept that we are enough.
When we do so, we break a pattern and break through our next level of self-leadership for more success, impact and fulfilment.
Is perfectionism bad?
Well, let's break it down. Perfectionism is the pursuit of perfection. It's the fact of refusing anything that is not "perfect".
I don't like to label this kind of things as "good" or "bad" because everything is a consequence of an action. In this case, the "action" is the situation that caused perfectionism in the first place. Usually it comes from a limiting belief developed in childhood from different possible origins.
This limiting belief might have been already present as a soul wound. You might also have inherited from this pattern that runs in your family.
It could also come from a situation or a series of situations you faced in childhood.
In any cases, this pattern of perfectionism will show up from childhood or teen age. It's something you can heal from and shift.
It is important to let go of (self-)judgment. Patterns like perfectionism, self-sabotage, procrastination, etc. are simply indicators of an imbalance. And you can 100% rebalance any imbalance, you can heal from anything.
I've been training myself to let go of (self-)judgment and be mindful of the energy I put behind words. You definitely don't want to judge yourself for that. It's not your fault. But as a leader, it is your responsibility to shift it if you're not comfortable and if you want to reach your next level.
It doesn't happen overnight, it comes by layers, but it is possible!
See it like a powerlifter or strongman increasing the weight of his deadlift sessions progressively every day to build up strength and muscle... it's a good analogy to explain how a new mindset can be built up daily.
So like I was saying, perfectionism is neither good or bad in those terms.
I prefer seeing things as useful/beneficial or harmful/toxic, or even serving your highest good or not.
Perfection doesn't exist - it only exists in the eye of the beholder, it is subjective. Moreover, what seems perfect to you right now might not seem "that perfect" in 3 weeks or 4 years from now. You change and evolve. Your tastes evolve.
So what I want to say here is that your perfectionism pattern can be harmful if it becomes an obsession. If you're being hard on yourself or keep delaying things because it's not perfect enough yet, then it is harming you. Reaching perfection can become a wild good chase, something unproductive and unattainable.
Journal prompts for perfectionism
Is this pattern of perfectionism serving my highest good?"
"How is it serving me?"
"How is it harming me?"
"Who would I be if I decided to drop this pattern?"
"How would my life change if I dropped this pattern?"
"Can I trust that doing my best is enough?"
"What can I do to trust that I am always doing my best and that my best is enough?"
Perfectionism vs excellence
Perfectionism doesn't equal excellence, you can excel and be perfectionist, but you can also excel without being a perfectionist.
There are different degrees of perfectionism. Excellence is reached through quality and consistency.
If you achieve a task that is not perfect according to your standards, you can still excel.
You can use slight "perfectionism" to excel as long as you're aware of your pattern, in that sense you use it to your advantage. But when it becomes extreme, then perfectionism is not serving you.
After a while you lose track of the main task and get lost in the mission for perfection.
Signs of perfectionism
Here are a few symptoms I have noticed. What I'm going to list below is by no means any diagnosis and simply aims at bringing clarity and raising awareness.
Not everyone has all of these symptoms and some of these can vary according to different periods of life, according to your level of stress.
Here is a non-exhaustive list as an example:
feeling unworthy (even if you do know at a conscious level that you are worthy and deserving)
giving power away to external situations, linked to a need to control the outcome or to make sure that no small detail remains unaddressed,
the above an also be linked a lack of self-trust, of trust in life or in the process
impostor syndrome: you feel like a fraud so you work twice harder to compensate for your "self-proclaimed lack of competence" (side note: the simple fact that you're afraid of being an impostor is the very proof that you aren't. If you were, you wouldn't worry about it ;) )
becoming obsessed by a task and not taking a break to clear your mind and breathe in the process
fear of failure
fear of success: if it's not perfect you won't be ready for success and while you're taking (wasting, sometimes) time to make everything "perfect" you are delaying your success
being harder on yourself than necessary, beating yourself up
needing to double check everything
anxiety (anxiety can be both a cause and a consequence of perfectionism), OCD, self-harming (in extreme cases when you want to "punish" yourself)
an "all or nothing" mindset, giving your all or self-sabotaging
Causes of perfectionism
It is usually caused by a wound. It can be in this lifetime, but also a soul wound from other incarnations, it can also be passed on through family lineage.
If you saw one of your caretakers always working hard or yelling at you if you didn't bring good marks at school, that can have created a false belief "I am not good enough" or "If I'm not good enough, people will be mad at me and won't love me anymore".
Everything that is not love is actually fear-based. Love in unconditional, when it becomes conditional, there has to be a fear somewhere.
It could also be caused by the school system: teachers shaming you in front of the whole class because you didn't understand something or didn't answer properly to a question. You'd hear, "you didn't listen", "you probably didn't do your homework otherwise you'd know the answer".
This kind of remark is belittling and not bringing anything productive. Why shame when you could be kind and still have your point made?
If more people asked us as children "how can I help you?", "where do you need more help?" we would have learnt that it's ok to ask for help, it's ok not to understand things sometimes. This would have also taught us to know when we need help, to actually ask for help and of course to know how to identify our needs and express them shamelessly and without guilt.
To cut a long story short, we could say that perfectionism is due to traumas and wounds, which is 100% true. But the cause of these things is a lack of love and a lack of self-love.
No one is to blame of course... we aren't taught to love ourselves by our caretakers, because their caretakers didn't teach them, because their caretakers didn't teach them - you see where I'm going with that. How can someone teach what they don't know?
You don't learn self-love at school, you don't learn to quiet your mind, to listen to your intuition or to your body, you don't learn to trust yourself.
You learn that you have to learn lessons by heart so you can have good marks and pass exams and do something with your life.
I can't count the number of times where I heard a teacher tell the whole classroom "if you don't have good marks you won't succeed in life, you won't be able to enter university and you won't have a good job".
What's a "good job" anyway?
The definition of a good job is different for everyone, everyone has different dreams, aspirations, desires and background! What if you never wanted to go to University in the 1st place because it never resonated?
Anyway, this is another topic but to get back to my point about perfectionism, we're not taught to be ok with who we are. Most of us weren't taught to develop a mindset of entrepreneurship. And for those of us whose parents were not entrepreneurs, we often face remarks and people can happen to project their own limiting beliefs on us...
How to overcome perfectionism
Here's a list of advice and tips:
It starts with self-acceptance (you can check out my free masterclass on Shadow Work - 3 steps to healing and self-acceptance here)
Deciding to observe and be present with yourself
Prioritising and organising tasks so that your day flows without stress. Make sure you have enough time to dedicate yourself to one task at a time with your full attention without spending more time on it than necessary. You can find my free task management planner / journal here
Trusting that you're doing your best with your heart and that doing your best is enough
when you finish a task, it's healthy to ask yourself "Have I done my best?" "Can I hold space for myself even if I want to be hard on myself?"
if you have a big goal, break it down into several steps and organise an action plan
celebrating your wins, even if you haven't reached your bigger goal yet, each step needs to be celebrated. Here is what I always say (and I also remind myself of that!) It's not because you haven't reached your goal yet that you haven't accomplished a lot already :)
Becoming aware of your inner speech: Whose "voice" are you hearing when you're being hard on yourself? Whose idioms or language are you using? is it a school teacher's? is it idioms used by an angry caretaker who belittled you for something that they considered not good enough or a mistake when you were a child? "What is the truth in the now?"
Letting go of wanting things to be perfect, letting go is a process
Journaling can help to process your emotions and thoughts when they come up.
3 Crystals to help with perfectionism (and self-sabotage more generally)
Amethyst to clear the mind
Smoky quartz to ground and balance energies
Rose quartz for self-love and peace
3 Affirmations for perfectionism
I am enough, I am doing my best and my best is enough
I am worthy, even if I can't fully feel worthy yet, my awareness is enough to heal myself
Every day, I take actions to reach my goals without comparing myself
Guided meditation to overcome perfectionism and reprogram your subconscious mind
I created this guided meditation to help you get in touch with your inner child so that you can reprogram your mind throughout time and space (time is an illusion) by bringing him/her unconditional love and encouragement in the now and rewrite your beliefs.
You can listen to it here:
If you'd like to talk more in depth about perfectionism and self-sabotage, book your free clarity call now and let's see how I could help you and if you'd like to team up with me, whether it is for a Breakthrough session or my 3-month program "from self-sabotage to unlimited".
Busting the perfectionist in you
Update of November 5th:
The podcast embedded below is the replay of the live Manahil and I did about perfectionism when it comes to social media and posting on November 5th. This episode is for you if you had the analysis-paralysis: you are afraid to be judged, you're unsure if your content is good enough but you have high expectations on yourself, pressuring yourself to create THE perfect piece of content that will go viral...
In this 30-min episode, Manahil and I are sharing our experiences and expertise to help YOU overcome perfectionism and take action even if you feel it's "imperfect". Press play for useful tips, epiphanies and mindset shifts! ;)
Manahil is the founder of the Social Media Agency Digital Pith Intl and you can find all of her info via this link.
I'm looking forward to connecting with you,
Personal development coach, energy reader & shaman for entrepreneurs and leaders who are ready to embody self-leadership and launch their next level of impact and success for more fulfilment and peace.
Single session: Breakthrough session
3-month program: "Unlimited"