How to be Imperfectly Perfect!

By , October 18, 2012 2:46 am

“The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.” 

~Anna Quindlen, Author.

Hands up all the perfectionists out there!

Some of us struggle with perfectionism.

I’ll admit it I’m a reformed perfectionist. The core of my perfectionism was around earning approval and acceptance. This relates back to my childhood and going to the same school where my Dad was employed as a teacher.

My perfectionism was a shield that I could hide behind. I could prove that I was good through my results and NOT because I was getting special treatment from the other teachers. I was the perfect pupil at school. I demonstrated all the right behaviours: polite, good mannered, followed the rules, helped out and was friendly. It was here that I also developed and honed my people pleasing skills.

I was quite the model pupil – lots of ‘A’ grades on my school reports. My attention focused on protection as I craved praise for my performance and achievement. Perfectionism was quite addictive because I wanted to do everything just right. Looking back I realise that this strive for perfection was a protection mechanism to shield me from the pain of others saying that really I wasn’t good enough and for judging me as getting good grades only because my Dad was a teacher. I became focused on what will they think of me? I had to prove to everyone that I was a high achiever.

Of course, this transcended into my adult life, work and relationships.

My perfectionism wasn’t healthy, it wasn’t about self-improvement or striving to be my best. It was about self-protection. This defense mechanism actually held me back by creating a negative belief system around what will they think of me? I created this to maintain my self-worth and avoid judgment, self-blame and shame associated with being the daughter of a teacher at my school.

Research shows that perfectionism hampers success and can create depression, anxiety, addiction and leads to missed opportunities because of being afraid to step out and be anything less than perfect.

Here’s the truth…

There is no such thing as perfect.

It’s a myth!

From my experience perfectionism didn’t lead to results. Instead it sabotaged my efforts and reduced my self-worth. I got exhausted always trying so hard.

I believe that perfectionism is more about perception. You only have to look at how today’s media influences us: How we should look, what we should wear, what we should buy. The influences around us filter through and reinforce our limiting beliefs that we are not perfect enough.

The truth is about having the humility to step back and look at yourself as vulnerable and beautiful and a WORK-IN-PROGRESS. Acknowledge your vulnerabilities and cultivate self-compassion by becoming your own best friend, loving yourself for who you are and begin to embrace your imperfections. Begin with empathy for yourself.

“It is in the process of embracing our imperfections that we find our truest gifts: courage, compassion, and connection.”

~Brené Brown, Author

Being Imperfectly Perfect is liberating for me every day. Having permission to not have to get it 100% right all the time is hugely important for any human being. Most of us would never start anything.

I‘ve learnt how to let go of what I perceive other people think of me and today life is much more effortless…

I’m proud to say authentically that I am Imperfectly Perfect. I’m doing the best that I can and this is ALWAYS good enough.

Give yourself permission to acknowledge your vulnerabilities and embrace your imperfections.

Cultivate the courage to be Imperfectly Perfect.


4 Responses to “How to be Imperfectly Perfect!”

  1. Steve Beatty says:

    Great post Elaine…the tyranny of beating myself up for every mistake big and small is alive and well in Las Vegas. I know that it keeps me from starting things, and as Dan Sullivan the Strategic Coach says, that trap of perfectionism and procrastination keeps me from leading the life I could, the life I deserve. Thanks for a great before and after picture

  2. Wendy Wolfe says:

    Elaine I love how you shine the light on perfectionism being self protection. That really says it all doesn’t it? Thanks for a great reminder. I always need to be on watch for my perfection tendencies…but I am getting much better at loving all of who I am.

  3. elaine says:

    Steve – Thanks for stopping by and for sharing Dan Sullivan with us

  4. elaine says:

    Wendy – Glad this post was a good reminder for you.

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