Poison, perfectionism, and the act of failing
One of my coaches once told me “The P in perfection stands for poison…” and boy, was she right!!
As a coach for over 13 years myself, I find that most humans suffer from a debilitating case of perfectionism. Sadly, this toxic combination of: comparison to “should’s” + martyr syndrome + a conditioned fear of judgement create the ideal conditions for DEATH to any and all inspiration for change, growth or passion-driven pursuits.
So here’s the deal…
From a very early age, we are conditioned to abide by the limited mindset of our parents, culture and society:
be careful…don’t hurt yourself…don’t run…don’t jump…
You know the drill. We’re taught to ‘not fail’ instead of TO succeed.
Go figure. :P
From there, we are taught conditional love based on approval of our behaviors:
be a good boy/girl…don’t disappoint me…you alway do that…you never do this…why can’t you be more like so and so?…
All this, paired with a hefty helping of passive aggressive behavior, and we now begin to question whether we are even worthy at all of love and/or acceptance.
Perfectionism is a conditioned need to receive validation for our efforts from someone or something outside of ourselves. If left unattended, we develop a habit and dependency on others to give us permission to succeed.
We are TAUGHT to be people pleasers…
to live our lives based on prioritizing the opinions of others in lieu of creating a life that truly makes our own heart sing.
Adopting a mindset of safety, conformity, and the avoidance of risk (aka change), our constant search for perfection has nothing to do with our own passion or desire to BE great. Rather, it’s an unconscious, internal drive to avoid the judgment or condemnation of others for stepping “out of line.”
This broken record of “I can’t mess up. If I do, what will they think of me?!” runs our life systematically, choice by choice. Keeping us in a holding pattern of indecision.
What if I don’t get it right? Becomes: I should wait until JUST the right time.
What if they see me fall? Shows up as: I should keep this to myself to I don’t jinx it.
What if I lose friends? Leads to: I’ll just hide my passion from them so they won’t feel bad.
Who will I become if/when I change? Triggers: I know me and I never follow through with anything anyway. I’m a failure now so I will probably hate me then, too.
Let’s face it, there are a million variables and uncertainty is a given. But without proper, consistent training to face the obstacles we lack the necessary gumption to stick it out and push through. The training path is called discipline…a discipleship of the highest and best self. Not to be confused with the punishment you received growing up, also called discipline.
Discipline conquers the rigid fears and procrastination habits that most perfectionists struggle with. By choosing instead a process of consistent and laser focused effort to calibrate daily habits, one can shed the fear of getting it wrong and make room to create and expeirence an authentic state of excellence.
And it doesn’t take much either. A simple daily review of your foundational basics is more effective than trying to be all things, to all people, at all times.
The mere act of folding your clothes better or dialing in your morning routine for the sake of just showing up better for the day can make a world of difference in your overall life.It’s called Mastery for a reason…we must become the master of our own lives. NOT the dictator.
“I’m not afraid of the man with a thousand kicks. I’m afraid of the man who’s practiced the same kick a thousand times.” -Bruce Lee
Instead of trying to master all things to prove your worth (this was me for far too long), instead of being so focused on not failing when trying something new (this was also me), instead of people pleasing (okay, yeah…me again), and instead of avoiding of conflict (damn. yep, all me)…all energy, attention and effort must be invested in expanding and evolving our authentic performance overall.
It WILL require loads of self awareness.
But don’t worry, you’ll pick that up along the path IF you give yourself permission to grow in whatever way is best for you.
Stop trying to be like others!
Your strengths…your very own unique gifts…can be sharpened daily with diligent review.
This commitment to consistency will allow you to direct those strengths to work FOR you by building self trust and an inner knowingness that whatever you send out to the world will be exactly for the highest good.
Learn to be malleable rather than rigid. Celebrate your successes even when there’s no one else to celebrate with.
Can you imagine what life would be like if, instead of fighting against change, you learned to embrace it with excitement?
How you would show up for your passions if you stopped caring so much about what others think?
Giving yourself permission to fall flat on your face, to scrape your knees, to bump your head, and at times, to make a complete fool of yourself is the only way you’ll ever know your true power.
Like a baby, we must playfully surrender to the falls as tools for calibrating what works vs what doesn’t.
It’s in our DNA to seek growth…
I mean, we are literally products OF evolution. The fine balance between breakdown and breakthrough runs deep in all of creation.
Like a phoenix, the brightest and most successful humans are those who have learned to use adversity as the platform for learned greatness.
Why then would we stop ourselves from the very thing we are created to do?
Don’t let a need for social acceptance and comfort determine your ability to choose your own destiny. Exchange those fears of perfectionism for desires for greatness and your life will become greater than you could have ever imagined.
Do yourself, and your passion for life, a favor…make it your sole purpose to develop an air of unapologetically authenticity.
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