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Why Perfectionism is Harmful (and what to do about it!)

Updated: Dec 9, 2022

Lately I've been thinking about the idea and pursuit of perfection. I hear a lot of people say that they are "perfectionists." I don't agree with this term. In fact, I find it harmful in a lot of ways. When we get caught up in getting it "perfect," we end up second guessing our instincts. We often judge our innate wisdom and intuition. In my personal experience, much of this second guessing and judging is harsh criticism of ourselves. And it is born out of fear. Fear of making a mistake. Fear of failure. Fear of being judged, shamed, not good enough.


This fear is debilitating. It drains power from our ideas, instincts, inner wisdom, and creativity. Fear can thwart us from spontaneity, steal our playfulness, and make us feel powerless. Because we are. Whenever we give our power away to fear, we are powerless. And when we are afraid and feeling powerless, we withdraw and become passive.


So, how do we develop courage and empower ourselves? Get clear about what sparks your enthusiasm as that will ignite your power and your will. Trust that spark and take skillful, imperfect action steps to move towards it! Skillful, imperfect action is direct activity with purpose and intention. Let go of what other people think of you and reconnect with yourself in a loving and accepting way. Listen to your instincts and discern for yourself what feels good and in alignment with your spark. Learn to trust yourself and your decisions. Take a risk!!! Risk being seen and heard. Risk being vulnerable. Let go of “people pleasing”. Learn to gracefully say no to others...each time you do, you are saying YES to yourself. Consider what is the most loving thing you can do for yourself and others in any given situation. Remember, power without compassion (for self and others) can perpetuate harm.


The next time you get caught up in the pursuit of perfection, ask yourself: what are you afraid of? Judgement? Making a mistake? Dig deep and be honest with yourself. Remember that mistakes help us to grow and teach us invaluable lessons. If we are not loving towards ourselves, giving ourselves room to breathe, to explore, to make mistakes, then we have no air to ignite our spark.


Gift yourself with space to play, to have fun, and to reconnect with what sparks your enthusiasm and leaves an imprint on your heart. One you become clear about what ignites that spark in you, do that thing as much as you can. Nothing is more important. Take skillful, imperfect action because the world needs more of your spark.

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