Perfectionism is the enemy of Happiness

Catherine Cornwall

I used to believe that being a perfectionist was a great thing! I mean, I’d rather be a perfectionist rather than a failure… right? WRONG!!!

Truth is whilst being a perfectionist usually mean that you’re a high achiever and it might mean that you get a lot of things right first time, it also has its downsides, which if left unchecked can completely hinder our progress and can put a limit success and happiness levels.

As I had this realisation I started to reflect on the dark side of my perfectionism… here’s 4 ways that being a proud perfectionist has limited my life:

  1. Perfectionism comes hand in hand with Procrastination ~ The antithesis of leading a fulfilling and successful life. We want to jump into growth mode, but we’re too busy procrastinating on all the things that could go wrong if not done to perfection
  2. Perfectionism is rooted in FEAR, more specifically the fear of failure! And Fear of failure is what most often prevents us from taking action.
  3. When we have expectations of perfectionism for ourselves, we often require the same of those around us, which leads to perpetual disappointment.
  4. Perfectionism is a form of control, and attachment to a certain outcome. The world is imperfect in it’s beauty, and is ever changing. Nothing is ever really within our control. To try to control through perfectionism is to set ourselves up for a world of pain

Having this realisation was a game-changer, and I’m now a ‘recovering-perfectionist’. If you’re reading this and it resonates with you, here’s a few techniques that help me to overcome my perfectionist affliction:

  • Reframe your belief around failure. Failure is a wonderful gift and we achieve and learn so much more through failing. Embrace it, and fall forward!
  • Feel the fear and do it anyway. What’s the worst that can happen? Make taking action your most important task/goal. When we make a commitment and take the first step, a world of opportunity and new doors open up for us. When we procrastinate and live in fear, those same doors stay shut
  • Learn to let go of control, and embrace the ever-changing world around us. Think about life as a stream, either we can go with the flow and point downstream or we can create resistance by rowing upstream (leading to zero progress and eventual burn out)
  • Forgive yourself and your perceived mistakes, and the mistakes of others. A powerful forgiveness practice that you can use on yourself or in relation to something outside of yourself is the Hawaiian Ho’oponopono mantra:

“I’m sorry, please forgive me, I love you, thank you”.

Repeat it out loud or in your mind any time you feel you need to offer forgiveness.

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