I recently read, The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown (she was a guest on Super Soul Sunday on OWN). It was a book that basically discussed the need to practice authenticity, vulnerability and living wholeheartedly, which in turn will help us to accept ourselves more and have healthier relationships with ourselves and others.
Reading this book came right after I realized my own perfectionist behaviors. For simplicity’s sake, people who are perfectionists are either very organized and do things in a way that they will be perceived as “perfect” or they are so paralyzed by it not being perfect that they don’t act at all. I’ve found myself on the paralyzed end of the spectrum. Without being overly mindful of it in the past, it has shown up in my career decisions, how quick I am at getting things done (hello procrastination), and how harshly I’ve judged myself for different activities I have performed. I didn’t realize it was so bad, well, until I realized it was so bad.
I finally understood how it was hurting me and causing me to live in a way that was driven by fear and judgment. Fear of not being good enough, fear of rejection, fear of failure, and just not giving myself a break – all of which under-girded my unconscious desire to operate in perfection. But I’m not perfect. No one is. No one ever will be. I can only be me. And I didn’t realize how difficult it would be to do so. It’s amazing the negative things we learn on life’s journey, and how they really inform how we see ourselves and what we do in our lives. Needless to say, I’m working on judging myself less, and challenging my fears. I’m working on being more mindful of the negative ways I think and combating them with positive thoughts and affirmations. But I’m also being purposeful about doing things differently and accepting the outcome – without thinking that if it doesn’t turn out the way I want, then there’s something wrong with me. One ongoing lesson for me has been that what I do does not equate to who I am. So when I do something that turns out to be a dud, then it doesn’t mean that I’m a dud.
In any case, this lesson came to me within the last month. It’s fresh, and I have a lot of work to do. But I’m glad I at least became conscious of no longer needing to perfect (finally!). I’m perfectly imperfect and what I need, as Brene Brown described, is to live wholeheartedly and practice authenticity. I think that’s a truer way to live.