Listen here, perfectionists! It’s not the way to get what you want.
Do you consider yourself a ‘perfectionist’? Do you know other people who are?
I was a perfectionist. I wore it almost as a badge of honour. It gave me pride. It’s how I described myself, and also how others described me.
But what it really meant was that I wasn’t able to enjoy the journey; my achievements were never enough, because they were never ‘perfect’; I was living out of FUN and in PRESSURE; and I wasn’t actually free to be my best!… Because, after all, Perfection is just a concept – an unattainable idea. It’s like I was chasing an illusion that could only end in defeat, and it meant that there was constant underlying frustration because nothing was ever ‘perfect’.
A wonderful voice teacher* I studied with in Vienna when I was in my early 20’s full-on perfectionist mode, prompted a light-bulb moment in me which I’ll never forget. I’ll be forever grateful to her.
We were in a lesson, and I expressed frustration at not being able to incorporate the technical concept she was teaching me. She stopped the lesson, told me I was really hard to teach (I thought I was a wonderful student, so this was a shock!), and told me: “It’s a process. Why would you expect to be able to do it immediately? Who cares if it’s not perfect? I don’t. Being frustrated doesn’t help, so just stop it, and focus on what I’m telling you to do.”
Well that shut me up.
WHAT?! IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT BEING PERFECT…?!
Wow. Sounds simple, doesn’t it. And it was! From then on something really clicked:
Ahhhh…. It didn’t all need to be ‘perfect’ yesterday. That wasn’t the aim here! Frustration didn’t help! Feeling the need to be perfect all the time wasn’t helping me to sing at my best!!!!!
The straight-jacket I’d been forcing myself into disappeared and the freedom and creativity I’d been stifling were able to take me to the most wonderful musical places I’d never been before. I stopped identifying with being a perfectionist, stopped needing to be perfect, and was able to soar…
THE RELIEF… THE LIGHTNESS…
What a relief. I can still feel the sense of “ahhh, phew!” when I bring to mind that initial moment of letting go of having to be ‘perfect’.
It was still a process, don’t get me wrong, but that was the turning point.
BE COMPLETELY HONEST WITH YOURSELF
So, you perfectionists out there, tell me in all honesty – does it feel good? Does being a perfectionist really make you happy? Is life fun as a perfectionist?
I’m not talking about the joy and satisfaction we find in improving, achieving, empowering our performance in order to be at our best. That can all be there without the negative pressure of perfectionism. My best singing and performances were those that had nothing to do with being perfect, and everything to do with fun, inspiration, joy, being fully present, “rolling-in-honey goooood” – as one of my wonderful, soulful friends would describe it. I was free to improve more rapidly and perform at my best without the negative loading.
YEP, YOU’RE LOADED
“Negative loading”? you ask? Yes.
Consider this – what underlying (probably subconscious) beliefs do you have about the world and about yourself, that drive your need to be perfect?
Take a deep breath, pause, and feel your way into these statements. See which ones resonate:
- I’m not enough, just as I am.
- I’ll be loved only if I’m perfect.
- I’m only acceptable if I’m perfect / I’ll be rejected if I’m not perfect.
- I have to be perfect in order to belong.
- I’m a good person if I’m perfect.
- I have to be perfect in order to be valid and worthwhile. I’m nothing if I’m not perfect.
See what I mean? Loaded. Pressured. Burdened. Yuck. Where’s the joy and freedom in that?
Now take another deep breath, pause, and feel your way into these statements:
- I’m enough exactly as I am. I don’t have to be perfect in order to be enough.
- I’m so freaking irresistibly loveable it’s ridiculous – just as I am, right now.
- There’s no part of me that isn’t completely acceptable and completely accepted. I wholly, unreservedly, accept Me. Yeehaw!
- I belong. Wherever I choose to be, with whomever I choose to be, I belong.
- I’m a good person. There’s nothing I have to do or prove, in order to be a good person – I just am.
- I’m so precious and worthy. I deserve all good things.
Ooh… that feels good, doesn’t it? Rolling-in-honey good.
If you felt push-back that’s OK. It just means your subconscious doesn’t truly believe it. That can be changed. You can get to the place where you totally and utterly know and believe those things about yourself. Just imagine knowing that about yourself, in the deepest part of your being… Just imagine the sense of joy, fun, freedom, lightness, as you do what you love to do – not to prove anything, no. For the joy of it.
Believe me, this is how you can feel. You don’t need to stay stuck in a perfectionist straight-jacket.
Think it’s time to ditch the judgmental, pressured “I’m a perfectionist” idea, and embrace the “I’m perfect right now” idea? It will serve you ever so much better. Rolling-in-honey better.
I invite you to book in a brief complimentary call with me to explore the wonderfulness of how that would be for you. I’ve got your back. Click here for the booking link.
*Her name is Carol Blaickner-Mayo – she’s on Spotify if you’d like to hear her sing.