Perfectionism – The control we think helps us but actually holds us back.

Marc Olivier Jodoin Tquerqguz8 Unsplash

Perfectionism! It’s one of the most common reactions to fear around and can vary in range from the simple want to impress people, managing how we are perceived and hiding what we see as our flaws – all the way through to being a debilitating, self destructive and addictive belief system that draws us away from living authentically and succeeding. It may seem like a natural reaction to want to control the things in life that you are able to “If I look and do everything perfectly then it will stop me feeling the painful feelings of shame , judgement or blame”. Some may even relate perfectionism to excellence and misinterpret this for healthy achievement and growth, when really, the perfectionism path leads us away from our authenticity and true growth. Perfectionism is a fear related reaction and is correlated to a string of conditions such as depression, anxiety, addiction and the fear of missed opportunities.

When was the last time you reacted into the arms of perfectionism? Acted out of fear and pulled yourself away from your purposeful path?When we feel we are enough in ourselves, when our buckets are filled and we overcome that fight or flight reaction, the feeling of perfectionism is decidedly placed on the back shelf. Here are some strategies that may help you next time you find yourself being pulled in:


Practise Self Compassion

Acting self compassionately when we suffer, fail or feel insecure is telling ourselves we are enough and adequate for the situation at hand. We are praised for achievements growing up such as grades & scores, judged on performance and compared. This develops a mindset that is based around achieving the unattainable and undoubtedly failing. Remind yourself who you are, what you stand for and give advice to yourself that you would tell your friend if they were in the same position.


Practise Mindfulness

Falling into the trap of listening to those voices that tell us we’re not enough, will always pull us in the wrong direction. This is a good time to pause, breathe and be mindful to separate your thoughts and reintroduce a narrative in your mind of enough.


Don’t Take it Personally

Thinking that ‘these things happen to everyone at some stage’ (and not just ‘me’) is the way situations are handled in a healthy manner. This isn’t blaming other people for your misfortune or thinking that the world owes you something , rather, understanding that you’re not alone and this has happened before to someone, somewhere. Try to see it from a point of view where you aren’t the focal point. There are most likely insights and lessons to learn if you look hard enough.

Use it to break it

And what I mean by this is really simple. Try this for a day (or longer) – Focus on being perfect at being imperfect! A little bit of a re-frame, but one many of my clients have tried and loved.

Is perfectionism an issue for you?

Tell me below (or message me privately) about your own experiences of perfectionism and if you have any management tools you have developed that have worked for you.




1 Comment

  1. Paramita Sastrosatomo on 06/09/2019 at 7:27 pm

    nice article Pete,

    Self compassion is necessity. Everyone needs self TLC 🙂
    I have regular day spas and cat naps.

    I agree with Mindfulness … pauses and be here right now help me to relax.
    Coincidently I am leading a Toastmasters meeting tonight with this topic.
    This is the highest goal of all spiritual practices in the world.

    I love your tagline, “Focus on being perfect at being imperfect”
    It reminds me of a book, “Love for imperfect things-How to Accept Yourself in a World Striving for Perfection” written by Haemin Sunim

    Regarding the insights:

    Based on our encounters at ICF events in Jakarta
    I highly recommend you to give more benefits to ICF Summit audience in Malaysia by opening a booth for signing and selling your books, and also provide one to one free coaching as a start. They could continue becoming your electronic coachees after. What do you think?

    You are awesome and have fun at the ICF Summit this November and Break a leg at ICF Conference.

    “Love is giving and forgiving”-Hazrat Inayat Khan, a Sufi

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