Admission: I am recovering perfectionist.
For most of my life I have been striving for the illusive perfect me. Always on it, a step ahead, goal crusher. Friends with everyone. Employee of the month. Perfect body, hair, teeth, skin. Always say and do the right thing in any given moment. Perfect.
One thing about being a perfectionist is that I was never alone. There are so many us trying to be perfect.
One of the ways perfection showed up in my life was with high expectations for myself and others. My bar was always high. When I hit a goal, there was no celebration or high fiving. The bar simply went higher. In a room with no ceiling, there was no end to how high I could go. Sounds familiar too?
Because my bar was always high, I set the same standard for others. If I had to be perfect, you did too. Makes sense right? That way we all had to achieve the same epically unattainable standard. What this did though was push people away. As I was breaking under the pressure of perfection, I was also breaking others.
When we let go of perfect, we can be enough.
I believe one of the best feelings in the world is freedom. One of the greatest – and hardest – teachings to learn is compassion. I mean that real, truthful, loving form of compassion that sets you free. In that freedom is allowing. You aren’t perfect, your boss isn’t perfect. your mom isn’t perfect. I am not perfect. When we can see others with heart open compassion, we give permission to not be perfect – we give permission to be ourselves.
When we let go of perfect, we become free.
What if someone fails us? One of the things perfection does is block us from compassion. Our hurt can come from seeing the world through the lens of perfect. As a result, a person fails us and we dehumanize them. They become worthy not of our compassion, but of our resentment.
If there’s someone in our lives who fails us, sometimes we think that if we change departments at work, find a new job or group of friends, we’ll feel better. That person is not longer in your inner circle so you must be able to move on, right? Here’s the thing – just because we create a boundary doesn’t mean that the heart knows that boundary. If you are carrying a heaviness with someone, it will not leave because of a role change. You will find peace and ease through a shift within you.
When we let go of perfect, we let in peace.
Today I coach many recovering perfectionist like me find freedom. One of the ways I do this is through the mindful leadership method of reflection. Find a moment and sit in stillness. Take a few slow breaths, and ask yourself: What would letting go of perfect allow for? Where is there space for compassion? The shift within you starts here, with a mindful awareness inward. Without judgment, high bar or expectations. Simply being.