Letting go of perfectionism to create a perfect life
“Perfectionism is self-abuse of the highest order.” Anne Wilson Schaef
There was a time, not so long ago, when I felt that I had to be perfect and nothing less.
For years I didn’t know it was perfectionism, I just thought it was how the world worked.
Through that ‘lens’ other people were perfect, because they had the love, relationships, money and careers.
They had confidence, wholeness and ease; they were living and enjoying their life.
As I wasn’t perfect I felt self-conscious, in need of fixing and caught in struggle.
I was working hard on being perfect, and in the meantime life was passing me by.
My perfectionism showed up everywhere.
In my relationships I was drawn to people who didn’t fully support or love me, so I would be eternally trying to prove my worth.
With money I could never earn enough; money came and quickly went.
And in my career I tried many different paths searching for ‘the one’, feeling immense pressure to create success for myself.
And it wasn’t even my version of success, but one I had inherited.
This conditioning left me chasing approval, with each new goal promising me the feeling that I had ‘made it’, yet not delivering.
Along the way I had missed many opportunities from working abroad to healthy relationships because I became paralysed by my fear of making a mistake.
Perfectionism kept me well within my false sense of a comfort zone because the idea of failure was so mortifying.
Instead I was operating on auto-pilot, with my harsh inner critic at the controls.
The voice that constantly tells you that you’re not enough, and you will never be enough.
To keep the voice at bay I was pursuing financial success like an addict, I struggled and strived to get up another rung on a ladder I didn’t even want to be on.
I was working all the hours, doing all the things, but then having hardly anything to show for it. I didn’t realise it was actually my perfectionism which was obstructing more from coming into my life.
Perfectionism comes from a place of needing so much, yet being able to receive so little.
It’s a total abundance blocker.
It focuses on what I have not, rather than what I have.
Even a compliment is difficult to accept, because you immediately look for all of the ways it is not true.
Eventually, I felt so frustrated, disappointed and that all my efforts had seemingly gone to waste, I realised that something had to change.
That change had to come from me.
After all the years chasing my tail, spinning in circles and eventually burning out I was forced to do the thing I had avidly avoided, I had to look within.
The life I was trying to create with my perfectionism was unobtainable.
Which, after starting a journey of personal growth, I realised was all coming from my subconscious.
And even that started from a perfectionistic stance as I devoured books and podcasts on personal growth, tried to be spiritual in the right way, and again was looking for the thing which would ‘fix’ me.
As if there was ‘one’ thing that would complete my personal growth in a nice, simple and straightforward manner.
I found some awareness, but each time a new life event occurred — when I became a mum, when I become a single mum, when I started my business — my perfectionism would flare up.
I didn’t know that my need to feel perfect was a damaging form of self-sabotage.
I thought it would make me successful.
Instead it was total self-abuse.
To end that cycle required deep inner work to reconnect with my true self so my sense of being wasn’t dependent on outcomes and the actions of others.
From time to time I can feel a perfectionist tendency rising within me, especially when it comes to parenting or my business, but I’m so much better equipped to deal with it now.
If this happens now, there are three questions I find really helpful if I sense a bit of perfectionism returning.
How do I feel in my body?
When I was chronically stuck in perfectionism I mainly lived in my mind, overthinking and denying the vital wisdom my body was ready to tell me, such as it was ok for me to take a break.
Am I working towards my soul goal?
Our conditioning can run really deep and sometimes we benefit from checking in to ensue what we are working towards is really for us.
Our souls came here to have experiences and they came here to expand. When we’re caught trying to be perfect it causes our energy to contract, which is a good sign that the goal we’re working towards may not be for us.
Am I having fun?
This is quite a simple one as being a perfectionist, in the unhealthy sense, is not fun. So I know that if I’m really not enjoying something, that it’s a great opportunity to look at how I can relax and bring in more fun to enjoy the process.
Doing this also opens me up to opportunities I hadn’t considered and would have easily missed if I’d been overly focused on how to make things perfect.
Looking back at when I was in the thick of perfectionism, it was such a hard, unforgiving way to live and seriously limited what I could create.
I know now that my perfectionism came from a deep fear of failure. Everything I was doing was compounding how imperfect I felt within.
I wasn’t aligned with my true desires and any success I achieved wasn’t celebrated or owned as I quickly moved on to the ‘next thing’ in my ongoing quest to get things right.
I could never do or be enough. I couldn’t feel proud of myself.
I was trapped in an impossible web of my own limiting beliefs and fears.
I wasn’t living from my personal truth, it was a lie.
My perfectionism eased when I allowed myself to learn who I really was.
The more I moved towards my purpose, and away from a profession, I started letting go of my identity of someone who wasn’t perfect, aka someone who was broken and needed fixing, and to believe I was whole exactly as I was.
I did deep subconscious work and added spirituality to my personal growth journey which helped me find answers I hadn’t been able to find elsewhere.
I began to bring more awareness to my patterns, and the understanding helped me to relax and I saw that I was here to create my own thing, which explained why I felt so out of place in a corporate environment.
But no experience is wasted.
As I deepened my spiritual connection, I saw how we really are perfect souls having a very human experience.
Who we really are, our soul, our energy, is completely perfect and we chose to come here to have a particular experience.
At first I only understood this on an intellectual level, and then over time it started to resonate deeply within me and I felt so much compassion for my former self.
I can look back at her now with love and kindness, rather than shame and harshness, as I watch her running around, literally in circles, giving away all of her creative power.
It was part of her experience to go through those times, to have the insights she does now.
Because as the Universe kept reminding me, with lesson after lesson, absolutely nothing on the outside was going to resemble perfection until I’d played the inner game.
Until I cleared, released and healed the things inside that made me feel that I was less than.
We all enter the world as pure perfection, it’s only our lineages, conditioning and beliefs which lead us to feel differently.
When I let go of controlling every outcome, life expanded, and I realised it was all perfect no matter how it looked.
Perfectionism isn’t real, but life is.
And as I found to be truly creative and experience what we’re really here for, as our human and our soul, life needs to get a little messy sometimes.
It is actually an essential.
There’s a reason that transformation is referred to as the messy part in the middle.
The most perfect moments are in the mess.
The great painters focused on their artwork, on their creation, not on if they spilled paint along the way.
They let go and created perfection.
Letting go of that need to be perfect was freedom.
It gave me my energy back and permission to finally live my life.
Every single time I’ve allowed myself to be more of who I am, to express deep gratitude for my experience, my life becomes just that bit more perfect.
I love my life now, because I’m not over-compensating for feeling empty inside.
I see the perfection in all of my experiences, the heartaches, the losses, the growth and the expansion.
Life is supposed to come with uncertainty, so it can unfold in its own time.
It’s all perfect.
Be you, be limitless