Recently, I had the opportunity to work with a client who really suffered from “Perfectionism.” We all like to do a good job and do it right, but this person was miserable with everything she did because it never was as good as others she compared herself to. During our conversation she often would say “what would my boss or staff think of me?”
No matter what I said or tried to show her that things were going well and she was doing a good job, she came back with some comparison. It was a difficult conversation and I was not only sad, but exhausted when it was over.
Below is an excerpt from an article by Brene Brown, author, speaker and has a Ted Talk with over 35 million views. Perfectionism is not a good thing, in fact, it can be very unhealthy and destructive.
Perfectionism Is Not About Striving for Excellence by Brene Brown
For some of us (including me), what I’m about to say is horrifying: Perfectionism is not about achievement and growth. Perfectionism is the belief that if we live perfectly, look perfectly and act perfectly, we can avoid the pain of blame, judgment and shame.
Most perfectionists (also including me) grew up being praised for achievement and performance in our grades, manners and appearance. Somewhere along the way, we adopted this dangerous and debilitating belief system: I am what I accomplish and how well I accomplish it. A ticker tape began to stream through our heads: Please. Perform. Perfect.
Healthy striving, meanwhile, focuses on you. It occurs when you ask yourself, “How can I improve?” Perfectionism keeps the focus on others. It occurs when you ask, “What will they think?” Research, unfortunately, shows that perfectionism hampers success and often leads to depression, anxiety, addiction and missed opportunities, due to fears of putting anything out in the world that could be imperfect or disappoint others. It’s a 20-ton shield that we lug around thinking it will protect us when, in fact, it’s the thing that’s really preventing us from taking flight. Another way to think about it? Consider Leonard Cohen’s song “Anthem,” which says, “There’s a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”