Updated: Jun 8
“Because one believes in oneself, one doesn’t try to convince others.
Because one is content with oneself, one doesn’t need others’ approval.
Because one accepts oneself, the whole world accepts him or her.”
Perfectionism interferes with our Enoughness. It is a twisted and perverse strategy for control. Control of our sense of comfort and safety in the face of failure, disappointment and rejection.
It sets the completion or the sufficiency of our efforts on the other side of a mysterious cognitive horizon ... always just, just, just out of reach. And worse yet, the more important and intimate our efforts, the more doggedly our Perfectionism plays up.
Perfectionism makes it hard, absurdly difficult and sometimes impossible to find our voice, to claim our space or to bask in the magic that we know we can make.
All too often, I see perfectionism interfere with professional progress and success. I see its divisiveness in relationships. I see its corrosive impact on the relationship that sterling people have with themselves.
It stands like an invisible barrier between their gifts and best intentions on the one end, and their fear of being found out and judged on the other end. And so, they feel stuck, unable to take the very action that will yield their freedom.
They pretend that it’s about being better and about improvement; but they know that's a lie. They know that something dark, unspecific and mercurial within is holding them back. They lament the glass-ceilings that keeps them trapped away from their potential; but they know that there are sticky surfaces, far more powerful than glass-ceilings that are holding them back; that stops them from taking action; that prevent them from putting themselves out there, because 'out there' is a terrain fraught with the risk of failure.
Day-in, and day-out I hear the tragedies of unrealised ideas and incomplete creations. Incomplete and unrealised only because of a thought, a fear, a suspicion founded in fiction, that it may not be enough. Incomplete and unrealised simply because there is that ‘supposed one more thing’ needed before it is enough. Just one more thing before We Ourselves are enough.
I witness these tragedies. And I see my own reflections in it. My very own Achilles Heel. Perfectionism has driven me to the outer limits of my physical and mental wellness. Going toe-to-toe with Perfectionism is perhaps the hardest work I have ever done. It is the hardest work I do till today. It’s become easier, but no less demanding and no less pressing.
There are many processes, tricks and strategies out there to combat Perfectionism. That said, the most enduring antidote to Perfectionism is simpler and more complex at the same time.
It is to practice Self-Love. To believe in ourselves, our worth and our contribution. To know that we are perfect works in progress whose contributions, big or small, are needed.
To know that to the extent that we cut ourselves slack, to the extent that we offer ourselves grace and to the extent that we forgive ourselves and understand that we are human, can we step into and can we expand our potential to do what we feel called to do.
Perfection has a constant companion. A toxic and stubborn shadow infused with self-doubt, regret, self-disappointment, guilt and shame. To step away from this shadow, we need the light and the warmth and the welcome that comes only from a positive, compassionate and loving self-regard.
This I have learnt and this I am learning as I go about my life. At first my mind rebelled against this simple solution to a challenge that has stymied me for all my days. I sought ways to make it more and more complex. But my contrived complexities are defeated each time by the beauty that if Self-Love.
Self-Love is Acceptance and it is Peace. It is Forgiveness and it is Trust. It is Power, because within the embrace of Self-Love, each of us are unquestionably Valid, Worthy and Enough. In the face of Self-Love, what is, is always enough and never needs to be any more or any less.
Self-Love is Surrender; the sweet, delicious letting go of every facade of control.
And where there is Surrender, Perfectionism cannot thrive.