Eureka! A Cure for Perfectionism

by Aug 27, 2013Defining Success56 comments

I have struggled with perfectionism all of my life.

At times it shows up as procrastination. I fill my to-do list with fluff and broadcast to everyone, including myself, how busy I am. The pace of it exhausts me and the pretending makes me feel like a fraud.

Other times, it’s a depression that dodges in and out of my life. A feeling I am not good enough. A suspicion that I’ve run up against the end of my potential.

Both occasions are painful. They drain my creativity and optimism and self-worth.

What’s worse is the demand to hide the pain–the perfectionist, in her struggle to appear perfect, dooms herself to suffer alone.

And yet, I never invested much in trying to solve the problem. I saw perfectionism as both a blessing and a curse. Yes, it brought me low at times, but a part of me believed it was also the magical elixir that powered my best achievements.

It wasn’t until I became a parent that I saw the truly destructive nature of perfectionism.

My daughter’s small body hunched over her Playskool desk. She was two years old and crying. The problem?  She was devastated that she couldn’t draw a perfect circle.

How does a two-year-old conceive the concept of perfect? Where had she heard the word? Did it get encoded in her DNA or had I unknowingly infected her with my disease?

I knew I had do something, but despite my best efforts over the years, the problem persisted.

Then, a few months ago, we had a breakthrough that not only helped my daughter break her pattern of perfectionism, but changed my outlook too. Strangely, it never occurred to me that we both had to find a way to heal. I couldn’t “fix” her without also fixing myself.

Maybe a “cure” is too strong a word. We both still struggle. But it’s fair to say our breakthrough has been nothing short of a miracle for us both.

In this short video, I talk about how we eventually became comfortable with risk and, more importantly, with ourselves. It’s a strategy so surprisingly simple, anyone can do it.

Can’t see the video? Click here.

I am passionate about helping overachievers create happy, healthy, productive lives.

But we can’t do that if we don’t talk about the problems and issues most overachievers hide. So I’m starting the conversation. Here’s how you can keep it going:

  1. Share the video with your favorite perfectionist. Email them a link to the video or share it on your Facebook page.
  2. Share a story of your own struggle with perfectionism. One of the simplest ways to help those who are suffering is to let them know they’re not alone.

I always thought perfectionism was something you dealt with instead of solved. This latest experiment has led me to believe the cure may be a lot easier than we may think.

Sure, your genes or upbringing may predispose you to thinking, acting, and feeling like a perfectionist.

But as with most things, you don’t have to accept the status quo.

If life is an adventure, and I certainly hope mine continues to be, then there’s no place for perfection.

Or silence.