Hi, my name is Ryann, and I’m a recovering perfectionist.
I’ve made significant progress in my journey, but perfectionism has had a tight grip on me for most of my life, so I recognize these tendencies have not (and may not ever) completely disappear. As a result, my goal has been to minimize its existence and control in my life, being able to recognize when it’s just my inner ‘mean girl’ coming out to play versus when it’s truly my soul speaking. (Hint: my soul is pretty much never mean to me, so that’s always a good place to start.)
Perfectionism is essentially the consumption and obsession with your outward appearance, likeness, performance, etc. being / appearing flawless, settling for nothing less than ‘perfect’.
The problem with this is that ‘perfect’ does not exist, it’s a huge waste of time, and you’re actually doing everyone a DIS-service by being this way. And no, I don’t mean in the sense that you’re making other people insecure by being so ‘perfect’; I mean that we (including you) are missing out on all the best parts of you when you spend your life chasing this unattainable goal.
And the thing is, it’s actually not much of a goal at all. You see, when you go a couple of layers deeper, you’ll come to realize that perfection is a façade for fear and pain; it’s a protection mechanism. It’s a disconnection from who we really are in an attempt to be who we believe we need to be.
By that I mean, through perfectionism, we so deeply believe:
– that we are inherently flawed beings who must earn our worth and approval
– that we must prove ourselves to others endlessly – using their measuring sticks as our own
– that avoiding the pain that comes with rejection or failure is preferable to taking a chance and following our deepest dreams
– that messing up at something you love is worse than succeeding at something that makes you feel empty
– that you don’t deserve a life that makes you happy and fulfilled
– and so much more…
We bury ourselves in tasks and accomplishments and the pursuit of ‘gold stars’ to avoid addressing the painful fact that we don’t fully love and accept ourselves, and so we can try to create value where we don’t see any and prove to the world that “FINALLY, I am worthy.”
No no no…we’ve got it all wrong. This is so backwards and so unsustainable and draining. It takes so much of the magic and beauty we are capable of experiencing, and sucks it right out of our lives as we chase empty, meaningless titles, numbers, and words.
The challenge is that when we start with a base of “I am not worthy”, there is literally nothing that we can do to ever fully feel worthy because worthy is something you believe, not something you do.
This is where so many of us perfectionists get all slipped up. We try to ‘do’ our way to worthiness rather than understanding that we are already there. Today, in this moment, right now.
So I’m here today to highlight some of the things I’ve learned on my journey of recovery in hopes that maybe you will take the leap to start a new chapter of your life if you’ve already been craving that and feeling ready to let go of the need for ‘perfect’.
Through being perfectionists:
We have agreed to play small and give up on who we were born to be.
We have agreed that making a difference in the world is less important than being socially acceptable to our family and friends.
We have agreed our dreams, in fact, don’t matter.
We become drained of our energy, as we hand our power out to the myriad things/people/ideas which we use to measure ourselves against and/or constrain ourselves by.
We shut down and lose touch with the beauty, love, wisdom, and desire that is within us and around us; we do this because we fear the temptation that may arise to leave our ‘safer, more practical, better’ path of life if we don’t keep our heads down and focused on the ‘end goal’.
We never truly succeed because we never truly allow ourselves to deeply fail, to fail in a way that someone can only recover from when they know getting back up is the only way to continue going after their dreams. To fail in a way that requires that you love yourself so deeply that you know this doesn’t mean YOU are a failure as a human, rather simply, it means that you did not experience the anticipated outcome you were hoping for at a given task or effort.
We fail to inspire others to go after their dreams and instead push others to follow in the same safe route, to deny their dreams, too.
We struggle to find deep, meaningful connections that will enrich our lives in the ways we most crave and need because we are busy seeking approval from those we wish to be accepted by.
We are unable to believe we are deserving of love, no matter what, which closes us off to the unconditional love we crave in a partner. Instead, we will continue to find it difficult to find love (thereby perpetuating that we don’t deserve it in some way), or we find partners who are conditional with their love, assuming you’ve met said conditions at all times (thereby perpetuating a given set of conditions that dictate whether or not you are worthy).
We spend a lot of time worrying, filled with anxiety, and living in the future and past, planning what we need to do or what we did or didn’t do in the past (as if thinking about it will allow us to control it); so much so that we are missing so much of life as it’s passing in front of our eyes, the present moment where so much of the richness in life exists
We deny those nudges we get in certain moments, the ones that tell us what we really want and need to do, and we discount them as being pipe dreams, falling off track, or being a misfit who has ‘crazy ideas’ and needs to stay more focused on the path s/he is on.
We spend SO much time focused on ourselves and how we come across and appear to the world, that we are unable to be the kind of person we truly want to be for those around us. The ironic thing is that we think that by focusing on people-pleasing and always saying ‘yes’ that we are doing that, when in reality, this is service coming from a place of desperation, fear, guilt, and/or a need for validation rather than truly wanting to serve others from the best place, in the best way you can. And with that…
We don’t recognize saying ‘yes’ to everything without discernment is de facto saying ‘no’ to whatever else it is you want, which also often results in prioritizing less healthy relationships rather than those that matter most and are less conditional and based in satisfying requirements.
We have a false sense of control and end up blaming ourselves when anything doesn’t go ‘perfectly’ according to plan; we aren’t willing to accept that there are no other factors outside of ourselves that play into how life unfolds.
We don’t try anything that’s too hard or new or different if it means we’ll fail publicly. We like to be good at everything on the first try and expect and accept nothing less from ourselves, which keeps life pretty uninteresting and not very ‘fresh’ or new.
We spend most of our time under fluorescent lights indoors in hectic, stressful, chaotic environments rather than moving our bodies out in nature or creating room in our calendars for silence and/or stillness, which we crave but deny ourselves because it feels indulgent or unproductive or like a waste of time.
We operate purely on logic + reason (pros and cons lists, proof / evidence, etc.), and don’t make many (or any) decisions based on gut instinct. We ignore the immediate nudges we get because we don’t truly trust ourselves to make such ‘rash’ decisions.
We are obsessed with our outward appearances (whether or not we’re happy with them or not), and we spend a lot of time on social media in unhealthy ways, comparing ourselves to others and judging the lives of everyone else to either validate or shame (aka ‘motivate’ or ‘inspire’) ourselves.
We prioritize and spend our energy on things that don’t actually matter to us and/or feel like obligations, which in turn, means we de-prioritize things that ACTUALLY mean something to us.
We feel frustrated with our bodies and frequently conform to diets / food rules / exercise regimens not because we actually enjoy eating / moving our bodies in that way or have been recommended to do so for genuine health reasons but because we deeply crave a sense of control / measuring / rules and ensuring that our bodies are ‘socially acceptable / desirable’.
We spend a lot of time and energy focusing on how we can maintain the control we believe we have (and further increase the control) over how others perceive us. Even if we know we’re not perfect, we worry that others may find out, so we spend a lot of time hiding and covering up our ‘flaws’ aka not accepting or being our full selves.
We deeply crave recognition and praise from others for what we’ve done and/or who we are, and feel lost without it, and sometimes it means we compromise our values, morals, safety, sanity, etc. in an effort to get more of the approval we crave.
We never truly feel satisfied with ourselves or our work and always feel like we could have done more or better, meaning that perfection is the ever-moving ‘carrot’ we are chasing.
until we look down and realize that we are on a treadmill and will never reach our goal. We are sprinting in place, which only leads to exhaustion, lack of fulfillment, frustration on lack of progress, and guilt / shame about our inability to make progress.
But loves, you cannot make progress in a race that doesn’t really exist.
Step off the treadmill, and you might see that so much of what you were chasing after has been there, within you and around you, all along.
Now join me. Let’s escape the trap and start making REAL progress towards our dreams, the things that truly matter most to us.
If you know anyone who could benefit from reading this and may be at the point in their lives where they are fed up with perfection but feel afraid and unsure about what to do next, please share this with them and encourage them to sign up to receive these weekly emails; I have some programs and offers coming up that are going to be absolutely perfect for people going through this in their lives!
You’ve got this. <3
As always, feel free to share this with anyone who may find it helpful, and I look forward to hearing how it helps you.
P.S. If you need some help with this (or other related topics) and are interested in possibly working together, click the ‘Contact’ button above, and let’s get talkin’!