At its’ core, perfectionism is when we focus on ‘form’ over flow. It happens when we get so caught up on how we think things ‘should’ be, that we abandon the flow of our natural inspiration and creativity. We allow ourselves to get caught up in the obsessive details.
Perfectionism is a black hole of time and energy, and is one of the arch nemesis’ of a successful and happy life.
Perfectionism doesn’t happen in a vacuum, it happens for a reason. It’s a natural response to an unnatural situation. Perfectionism is a defense mechanism that our ego uses to protect us.
It’s there to try and make us feel safe by keeping us small.
But as with all patterns. Our pattern of perfectionism can be transformed by using the 4 powerful antidotes below.
Antidote 1 — Keep things Simple
We don’t want to shock our ego or unconscious mind by trying to jump off a cliff everyday to get out of our comfort zones.
Some of us have been in a protective perfectionist bubble for a long time (probably most of our lives in one way or another), and so little and often is the best medicine.
Perfectionism wants to make things as complicated as possible.
It does this so that we’re never able to get the big things done, and so it keeps us small and ‘safe’.
To get around this, a vital part of saying ‘No’ to perfectionism, is to keep things simple.
Take something you’re struggling with… it feels kind of overwhelming right?
The first thing you want to do is simplify it.
Then strip it back again.
Then ask yourself “how can I make this even easier?”
Then simplify it again.
Do this another few more times until you literally can’t make it any simpler than it already is.
When things are simple, they’re sweeter, and we’re more likely to do them, (and do them well!).
Revisit this antidote of simplicity often to stop yourself from getting hung up on the details, and allowing the complications to creep back in.
Antidote 2 — Take (little) Inspired Actions
Rather than taking too much on all at once and setting yourself up for overwhelm, take small, right actions as and when you feel inspired to do so.
Don’t feel like doing a particular task right now? Leave it for tomorrow and do something else instead!
Still don’t want to do it tomorrow?.. Well then maybe it’s not worth doing.
If you notice there are any tasks you really don’t like doing, or are taking up an inordinate amount of time, go back to Antidote 1 and simplify, simplify, simplify.
Antidote 3 — Focus on the Meaning, not the Fluff
When we fall into the perfectionism trap, it’s often because we’ve lost sight of our “Why”.
If you feel that you’re focusing too much on the details ask yourself ‘why’ you’re doing this work in the first place.
Make some time, clear a space, and meditate on that question for a while.
Get to the core of why you feel drawn to the kind of work you do..
Why you want to help people in this way..
Why you want to serve at this particular altar..
Then, when you feel clear again, and anchored deeply to your why, create your ‘how’ from that space.
Perfectionism doesn’t live in the why, it lives in the how. So anytime you feel you feel it creeping back in, bring your attention back to the why.. keep it simple.. and then take some small, inspired actions.
Antidote 4 — Accept Yourself
When you own your vulnerabilities, you give others the permission to own theirs. And they will love you for it.
When people see you being real, and admitting you’re not ‘perfect’.. but in fact have your own quirks that you accept / can’t stand / think are funny / want to cry and hide from / or are working to embrace. It relaxes them and helps them to feel safe in your presence.
It lets them in on a little secret. That it’s OK to be you.
That they don’t have to pretend to be someone they aren’t when they’re around you.
That they can be themselves, as messy and weird and imperfect as they are, and that you can be too. This is the basis for all true and meaningful connections.
The next time you’re speaking with someone, and a vulnerability comes up. Try sharing it with them and see what happens. You may be surprised!