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Perfectionism is a Bad Thing?

Uncategorized Jan 14, 2021

Today I’m writing about the second of ten Guideposts for Wholehearted Living by Dr. Brene Brown.  It reads this way:  “Cultivating Self-Compassion:  Letting Go of Perfectionism.”

One of my favorite questions at this point in my life is asking what would I have to give up in order to do a particular something.  And what would I have to take on in order to accomplish it?

To live into this second guidepost, we need to find a way to let go of our perfectionism.  In order to let go of it, we have to understand what it is, or else we won’t have any idea of how to let it go.  So, first step:  What is it?  What is Perfectionism?

Perfectionism involves trying to earn approval and acceptance, and being afraid of what other people will think of us if we fail.  It’s not the same thing as trying your best to do your best. According to Dr. Brown, perfectionism is self-destructive, unattainable, addictive, and shame producing.  When we’re in the arena of perfectionism, we often blame ourselves, thinking we’re not good enough.

Working at developing “shame resilience” and practicing “self-compassion” are the antidotes to wallowing in perfectionism.

Spiritual abuse by someone we trusted casts us into an emotional hurricane during which we most likely are not thinking about perfectionism or self-compassion.  Instead anger, shame, self-blame, sometimes a desire for revenge rule heavy in our whole physical and spiritual system.  We’re in the middle of a shame storm.

As time goes by and we gain distance from the event or chain of events, we may think we’re past all that.  And you might be.  But I can tell you, in my experience, it has taken 20 years to truly “let it go.”  And there are some days when I know it hasn’t happened yet.

What would I have to give up in order to let go?  Cultivate self-compassion.  I had a spiritual director once who said many, many times, “Be gentle with yourself.  Be gentle with yourself.  Be gentle with yourself.”  Stop beating yourself up as though the behavior of others was your fault.  Give it up.

Stop re-living the emotional memories.  Give up mentally rehearsing the events.  Don’t go there.  Instead be gentle with yourself.  Cultivate self-compassion.

Next week I’ll blog more about this thing called “self-compassion.”  In the meantime, be gentle with yourself.


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And remember, you're awesome!  And God holds you in the palm of His hand.

2021 © Dorothy Gremillion

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