Befriending Perfectionsism

As I sit here, and soak up the blessings of the rain after an extreme drought, I reflect on Nature’s seemingly imperfections. Most would say that “perfect weather” entails mild temperatures, and abundant sunshine. However, it is the “imperfection” of a downpour of rain that enables Nature’s growth.

How might our own imperfections enable growth? Our desires to be perfect rest in the need for love and acceptance. As social beings, our survival, in part, depends on our ability to connect with others. In moments of imperfection, we enter into a falsehood which convinces us that our mistakes will cost us the love and acceptance of others; ultimately, leading us to our greatest fear, rejection. However, it is the veil of perfection that keeps us from experiencing genuine connection with ourselves and others. 

When we make mistakes, we can become highly reactive, and cast extreme judgment on ourselves. Feelings of worthlessness, and shame overcome us. It is almost like entering into a trance, and being at war with ourselves. But what would happen if we took time to pause, and meet this part of ourselves with compassion and curiosity? We spend so much time beating ourselves up with anger, rage, guilt, and shame that we forget there’s another part of us under all of those emotions that is deeply hurting.

In her podcast, Tara Brach (2022) describes how we can start to become curious about the anger and judgment that resides within us, and how to meet that part of ourselves with compassion and understanding. The first part in doing so is to acknowledge the feelings of anger, judgment, guilt, and shame, and accept that they are there. The next step is to ask ourselves where are these feelings in my body? What is their energy like? As we lean more into that energy, and become curious, we will eventually find a part of ourselves that needs love.

So when you find yourself making mistakes, and saying phrases such as “I could have done better!” or “I should have known better!”, take time to pause and explore the emotions that are there. Then, gently place your hand over your heart, and repeat the following statement, “I’m sorry, and I love you” (Brach, 2022). 

Brach, Tara (Host). (2022, July 14). From dragons to schmoos – Meeting life with compassionate presence [Audio podcast episode]. In Tara Brach.