Hey, my soul-connected peeps! Let’s continue today with the #perfectionistproblems series about all the ways perfectionism shows up in and negatively affects your life as a creative.
This one’s a biggie, if I do say so myself. Today we’re talking about fear and how perfectionism makes us think and act in a fearful way in our life, creativity, and business. And, of course, there’s a few tips and a challenge to help you on your way. Let’s chat, m’friend!
THAT’S FOR YOU TO PIN, M’FRIEND!
Perfectionism and fear: how are they intertwined?
There’s a very persistent and dangerous misunderstanding about what perfectionism is and this misunderstanding is perpetuated in the media and in popular culture. In most magazine articles and TV sit coms a perfectionist character is portrayed as someone who is diligent, detail oriented, conscientious, and overly organized. Basically, the Monica Gellers of the world. Characters of comedy gold.
But here’s the thing, that’s not the definition of perfectionism.
This is what perfectionism REALLY is: perfectionism is a fear-based response to insecurity and uncertainty.
Perfectionism is fear-based behavior. It’s a thought pattern that goes like this: 'If I do this perfectly or have a perfect life or look perfect, I am in control and therefore people can't hurt me or see me for who I really am.'
I wholeheartedly believe that fear is the ROOT CAUSE of perfectionism. I wrote an entire blog post, plus four actionable steps, and I included a workshop video (I’m bringing the goods here, f’realsies! :) about dealing with perfectionism and the fear that lies at its heart. Check out that epic post here. Or download the free perfectionism-busting workbook below.
But today I want to focus on the fear that RESULTS from perfectionism.
What to do about fearful behavior as a result of perfectionism?
The thing about perfectionism is… it’s doesn’t exist. Perfection isn’t real. #shocker
And that’s a scary reality to face for perfectionists. You use perfectionism as a safety net against life’s insecurities, uncertainties, and anxieties, but then you realize that perfectionism doesn’t bring any security at all.
When faced with that reality you can react in these two ways.
Turning outward and focusing on the other
You ramp up your efforts when it comes to people pleasing. You feel like you need to hustle for worth and approval and in turn you fall back on old behaviors and you keep on perfecting, pleasing, and performing.
When you feel yourself falling back on these old behaviors, the first thing you want to do is take a step back. Breathe. Calm yourself down. Then, take stock of your behavior and re-evaluate what you’re doing. It doesn’t make sense to keep on perfecting when you know perfection isn’t a realistic end goal, does it?
Also, remind yourself of your values. For me, imperfection is a core value. When I find myself having the impuls to perfect, I recognize that I feel the emotion of fear and remind myself that I highly value imperfection. That always takes the fearful pressure off.
Turning inward and focusing on yourself
Another common response to the fear of perfectionism is the urge to take it out on yourself. Perfectionists are masters in self-criticism and self-blame. Every time you’re faced with the hard reality of imperfection, you feel like a failure. ‘If only I’d done this better’ plays in your head over and over again.
Self-compassion is crucial here. You’re human after all and you’re per definition perfectly imperfect. Turn your ‘if only…’ into ‘next time…’. Turn your regrets into lessons.
My challenge for you this week is to take stock of your fearful, perfectionist behaviors.
Turn both inward and outward using the suggestions above. And remember, facing fear and perfectionism head on requires a buttload of courage. When you think of yourself as a failure, I think of you as a courageous badass!