Lucy* has a pretty damn near perfect life. She runs an award-winning business, she has been mostly happily married for 25 years, has two healthy kids, and a lovely home in a charming town.
A busy, independent tower of strength, she would never ask for help and if anyone offers, forget it. She has everything under control.
“My family name carries respect in our community,” she said. “I’m not comfortable with anyone knowing any of my vulnerabilities. I want everything to look perfect.”
The cost of perfection is mighty, and over a lifetime of appearing to have it all together, the impact on your emotional and mental wellbeing can be enormous. Sadly, as high as the cost of perfectionism is on your happiness, it may also be a delicate pattern to disrupt on your own.
The desire for perfection is often rooted in a few things. Perhaps you had a volatile childhood, where being perfectly behaved meant you drew less attention to yourself. Or an insecure early attachment may have also created feelings of not being good enough unless ‘perfect.’
Seeing our parents display perfectionist tendencies could also impact our behaviour. As may being highly praised for achievement over effort or even pushed to succeed from a young age.
Whatever the root of your perfectionism, the imperative thing to note is that achieving perfection is not even possible. It’s like running a marathon with no finish line in a pair of high heels.
It’s an unattainable, unsustainable, and excruciatingly uncomfortable.
As humans, achievement is one of the pillars of happiness. To know we are growing and extending ourselves and moving forward gives us a sense of purpose. However, perfectionism is not just about achievement.
It’s more about not showing vulnerabilities.
Leanne* came to me knowing her perfectionism was causing high anxiety. She was always busy and close to burning out. She needed to run her two businesses as if they were her sole focus and parent her children like she had no other priorities.
She could not ask for help because it meant exposing her vulnerabilities.
Eventually, Leanne understood that asking for what you need is one of the bravest things you can ever do. By letting people in, to share your journey, to support and help you, you create authenticity and connection.
The two things that life is really all about.
Of the cost of perfectionism, my fantasy dinner guest and BFF, Brené Brown, says it beautifully in her bestselling book, “The Gifts Of Imperfection.”
“Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are. Choosing authenticity means cultivating the courage to be imperfect, to set boundaries, and to allow ourselves to be vulnerable; exercising the compassion that comes from knowing that we are all made of strength and struggle; and nurturing the connection and sense of belonging that can only happen when we believe that we are enough.
Authenticity demands Wholehearted living and loving—even when it’s hard, even when we’re wrestling with the shame and fear of not being good enough, and especially when the joy is so intense that we’re afraid to let ourselves feel it. Mindfully practicing authenticity during our most soul-searching struggles is how we invite grace, joy, and gratitude into our lives.”
Allowing others to see, hear and support your perfectly imperfect self may seem impossible at first. With courage and perseverance, the rewards of living an authentic, wholehearted life are very much worth it.
When you are now ready to let go of your need for perfection, to ditch the pressure you put on yourself and embrace yourself for all that you truly are so you can live a wholehearted and authentic life, get in touch about my one-on-one Your Good Life Breakthrough program.