Perfectionism is a painful prison.

Perfectionism guarantees failure.
Perfectionism guarantees disconnection.
Perfectionism, for me, was the hard impenetrable shell protecting my soft center I was so afraid to show. For a long time, I didn’t even know that part of me was there, much less that I was afraid to show her.
That level of vigilance is EXHAUSTING. It’s never off. You’re always “on.”
In one of my early therapy sessions, I remember telling Carol (one of my healers in human form) that I was just exhausted.
My version of perfectionism was driven by deeper fears of conflict and abandonment. Unconsciously, I was operating from the idea that if I’m not perfect, I won’t be loved. If I do anything wrong, I’ll get yelled at, rejected, left. And I’ll get all the pain that comes with that.
As a child, I didn’t have the skills or ability to navigate or understand that pain, so my system sprung into action to protect me from it.
This is totally normal. This adaptation happens for all of us. It’s actually a GOOD thing, helping keep us safe when we are vulnerable children.
The thing that becomes problematic is that those patterns then follow us into adulthood.
Things that used to protect us become the things that hold us back.
Cool, no prob… so, what do we do?
We can take this on like any other badass goal we’ve ever set for ourselves. We can decide we want to heal this part of us. We can learn how. And over time, we can absolutely do it.
I’m a living example. Sounds cliché AF, but whatevs, I’m gonna say it… if I can do it, anyone can. Yeah, even you.

Here is what I’ve learned as a recovering perfectionist:

1. Connect to the fact that you are now a capable adult. For reals. This might sound weird, but this was a big mindset shift on my path. Like OHHHH, oh yeah cool… that reaction is actually 5-year-old me… or 14-year-old me… or 9-year-old me. Now, 45-year-old me can love that little girl, soothe her, calm her and decide with clarity and intention how to proceed in the present.
2. Relentlessly accept and self-validate my full humanity. Basically, I needed a LOT of reps in order to rewire my brain that it really is ok to flail. To feel. To fuck up. To be human. This was not easy. But it got easier. It’s now a LOT easier. Honestly, now it’s mostly automatic. It’s not entirely gone, but in so many ways this painful perfectionist lens feels healed. How did I do it? I applied my Type-A intensity to THIS practice. Every time I felt weak… every time I felt dumb… every time I judged myself for not being further along… ALL of it… EVERY TIME… I would be kind and gentle with myself. I would validate in my head whatever specific struggle I was facing.
For example, “It’s totally and completely understandable and normal to feel this way. Anyone in my shoes would be struggling given XYZ (aka whatever circumstantial details matter). I’m a human like everyone else. It’s ok.”
3. We will periodically think we’ve kicked it, then we’ll have a flare up and be like WTF. Hahaha this sounds funny to me, but it’s true. What I mean is this healing process will take time. Most likely, a long time. Of course we’d love it to be quick and easy. Hate to break it to you, it won’t be. Flare-ups are a guarantee. They don’t mean you’re failing, or will never “get it,” rather they are your opportunity to practice #2. Accept that this effort to rewire your brain, to heal your system, will be a marathon. And that your commitment to that longer road is one of the things that makes you an actual badass.
4. Reframe success from outcome to effort. As in, recognize your badassery is NOT connected to how things turn out. Why? Because you, nor anyone, can control that. Your success is connected to what you CAN control, and ONLY what you can control. So what can you control? You can control showing up. You can control your choice to try despite the fact that you can’t possibly know what will happen. You can control choosing to risk looking stupid metaphorically tripping and falling on your face for the chance to succeed and grow. THAT. THAT is brave. THAT is inspiring. THAT is your success.

What in the list resonates most for you? I’d love to hear.
As always, I hope this helps and I’m sending all my love.
PS. If you want help with this for yourself, reach out anytime. We’ll be teammates.