The Cost of Perfectionism

Posted by on October 10, 2014

“Perfectionism is a twenty-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.”    – Brene Brown

“The irony is that striving to be perfect actually keeps us from getting much of anything done.”    – Katty Kay and Claire Shipman

As a recovering perfectionist, I feel a great deal of compassion for those who struggle with perfectionism.  The real truth is that we are all a mixture of good and bad, dark and light; if we accept this, we can begin to let go of our drive to appear perfect.  Which is a good thing, because the cost of being a perfectionist is incredibly high.

How so, you ask?  Perfectionism keeps us from taking risks and trying new things at which we might be less-than-perfect.  It stalls us while we wait to become perfect at something before we begin.  Perfectionism keeps us striving for others’ approval, instead of giving it to ourselves.  When we appear to have it all together, it makes others feel inadequate – and keeps us from having deeper connections with people (because of our unwillingness to be vulnerable).  And it takes an enormous amount of energy to maintain a perfect facade.

The sad thing is that while the cost of perfectionism is high, it doesn’t really get us anything, because we can never achieve it or feel like we’ve done enough.  It’s a goal that simply can’t be attained, no matter how hard we try.  In addition, as much as we long to control how others see us (i.e., as perfect), the truth is, it’s none of our business what other people think about us.  And it’s such a relief to let go of that!

Today, how can you let go a little of your drive to appear perfect?  Where can you take a chance, even if you can’t guarantee a perfect outcome?  Where could you stop thinking and simply act?  Where could you be a little vulnerable and more authentic?  And how can you shift your focus from being perfect to being the best version of your wonderfully flawed, unique self?

Happy to know the real you!