About a year and a half ago, I reached point where I’d let my perfectionism take me over in my work. For example, at the outset of writing a blog post, despite feeling pumped and inspired to hit the keyboard, by the time I pressed publish I resented every word on the page.
I would polish the shit out of my image and expression.
I would painstakingly edit my creative processes and expression pieces. I would censor and vanilla-fy my image to the world because I hated to think that someone might not like me.
And I would justify all this by claiming that I was a “perfectionist”.
Like somehow that was a trait to be celebrated.
Which funnily enough, when you consider we’ve been socialised to grind ourselves into the ground in the name of success, build up armour against vulnerability and numb ourselves to manage discomfort, it’s no wonder I claimed perfectionism as my weapon of self-destruction.
It was the perfect payoff.
I could feel shameful, fearful, unworthy and uncertain – and simply label it something else, masking all these uncomfortable truths as something admirable.
Because if I’m a perfectionist, then I’m definitely NOT lazy.
If I’m a perfectionist, then I’m absolutely committed and serious about success.
If I’m a perfectionist, then surely I’m good enough, because I’m going above and beyond?
The little voice in my head would attempt to justify how miserable it felt to spend 5 excruciating hours going through my blog post with a fine-tooth comb, or revising the images on my sales page 1000 times, or wear a smart-cut blazer and straighten my naturally wild, curly hair in a photoshoot, because that’s what a professional expert does apparently (can’t trust them curly haired therapists, amirite?)
It hit me like a lead balloon when I realised I’d been playing myself for a looooong time.
My essential self wasn’t a perfectionist. She was just scared as fuck.
I had the deepest, most sincere desire to be the custodian of empowering, soul work. I wanted nothing more than to support the growth and healing of women and mothers.
Yet I was so frightened of being judged or found out to be a fraud if I put my real, flawed and honest self out there, that my efforts to reach those who needed my authentic expression were lost in the noise of cyberspace.
With hindsight, it’s now clear that while I was wrapped up in making my image and my offerings LOOK perfect, I hadn’t left myself enough time to facilitate the actual work.
The actual soul work that mattered.
Here’s the truth.
Women playing small at the hands of perfectionism is an epidemic.
It’s not efficient.
It’s not magnetic.
It’s not satisfying (because let’s face it, you’ll never be satisfied).
On the outside, “Oh, I’m just a perfectionist” is claimed like a badge of honour. But privately, a shame shit-storm is raging like a relentless beast.
You see, where shame goes, perfectionism follows.
Brene Brown says something like, “When perfectionism is at the wheel, shame is riding shot-gun”.
Women are so inundated by shame that to compensate, we polish and preen, edit and curate, censor and make more palatable every angle of ourselves we put out to the world.
Our dreams and desires.
Our perfectionism takes us hostage and prevents us from knowing how truly magnificent we are.
We feed it with stories and fool it with notions of false rewards.
Because merely the prospect of someone seeing who we REALLY are, what our life is REALLY like…
Our unhappy relationship
Our secret chronic illness
Our feelings of failure as mothers
Our drinking, drug, food or sex habit
Our guilty betrayal
Our fear of appearing dumb or being wrong
Our reliance on medication
The niggling suspicion that we’re very likely to be a totally shit human being.
You know, all those things.
We believe that sharing the truth of these things would be undoubtedly catastrophic and unbearably painful.
Oh goddess, I know. I really do.
So instead, we get dolled up and we take all the photos and we have them filtered and edited and we write our jazzy copy with all the buzz words and the seamlessly executed strategy, and we wait.
We wait to be found out as the imposters that we are.
This is the vicious cycle of shame, perfectionism and fear.
We believe we’re less, so we compensate with more.
If you’re reading this, I want to reach out, right here and right now to tell you that this is a fallacy. Perfectionism is not even close to being your best quality. I assure you, it’s not even on the list.
But what will make the list is courage. And openness. And authentic expression. And the unwavering devotion to showing up as the real, uninhibited YOU.
Your partner doesn’t need your perfectionism, and your kids hate it. Your work is allergic to perfectionism and your creativity wants it gone. Your body certainly doesn’t benefit from it, and your friends love you despite it.
So next time you feel the familiar sensations of perfectionism rising in your body, and you notice it getting in the way of connection, expression, intimacy or your potential… I invite you to consider these 3 questions:
- What foolish fallacy have I tricked myself into believing here?
- What shame am I carrying that is fuelling this fallacy?
- Can I show my perfectionism compassion in this moment, acknowledging it’s role in trying to look after me, and lovingly invite it to step aside?
Think of these questions as supporting you to hone in on your bullshit radar. On yourself.
It is a process, dear one. A process that takes commitment, but also tenderness and compassion. Your perfectionism has been doing it’s best to look after you for a long time. But now, it’s time for you to gently kick her to the curb.
You’ve got REAL work to do.
Are you ready to say adios to perfectionism and get to the important work of living an unapologetic life that lights you up? My 6 month 1:1 Feminine Rebel Coaching & Mentoring Program is now accepting new rebels!
This intimate, embodied, transformative experience is for those looking to come home to their unique brilliance, authentic expression and claim their wildest desires as women, lovers, mothers and leaders – wherever you are on your journey.
Working within a potent framework of feminine embodiment and psychotherapy, you will remember how freakin’ glorious you are. Every single facet of you.
If you’re keen to join the Feminine Rebellion, schedule a free chat with me here.