By Elle Wilson
I honestly do not believe a single one of my students isn’t a perfectionist at heart.
However, what drives the perfectionist is another story.
Your success or your failure to achieve your goals is at the very heart of how you use perfection.
Take a moment to consider the relationship you have with perfectionism. There are two sides to it.
Without any value for the standards perfectionism invites us to reach for, you will always be underachieving and never bothering to push yourself beyond what’s easy. The higher your standards, the closer to perfectionism you are reaching.
The value of perfectionism is that it raises your standards, it drives you to make and achieve goals, it pushes forward your evolution, to become more, to become better.
Welcome to the Dark Side
Throughout history, we have seen countless geniuses and artists never share their work or their ideas, as they were never quite “ready”. If you are ever to wait for perfection to arrive, you may very well be waiting a long time.
Imagine if Microsoft or Apple waited until their software was perfect (bug free) before releasing it. If they did, to this day, a single version of their software would never have been released! Really stop and consider that.
A perfectionist is someone who cares deeply about the quality they share with the world. They see their work as an extension of themselves and an extension of the qualities within they know are true. They take pride in what they extend outwardly. A perfectionist in the positive sense of the word will be an exceptional person.
However, the other side of the perfectionist and the aspects we will uncover together, exist in each of us; they are nothing to be ashamed of. However, some value these aspects more so than others and left unchecked they become your enemy rather than your ally.
Realization of Power
We have infinite power to choose. We are constantly choosing, in fact. Isn’t that extraordinary?
We are constantly choosing not just the small stuff, but also what to think and feel (or at the very least how we relate to what we think and feel).
We give our power to our thinking and feeling through exercising choice every moment of every day.
It can sound a little intimidating but if you really take a good long hard look, it is the very best news there is. It puts your life in your hands.
You see, it isn’t perfectionism that has the power to hold us back, stifle our dreams, but how we use it.
Some of us use perfectionism, unbeknown to us, in a negative way. We have been taught as children that to succeed we must be perfect. There is no harsher judge than the one we harbour inside us.
Now here comes the great part. Everyone, I mean everyone on this planet, has an inner judge. You are not alone and yet you get to choose how much of your power you hand over to this way of thinking and feeling.
Let’s be honest, we know there isn’t a little judge with a wig and a gavel within us. But there is definitely a voice, a part of our thinking, that is judgemental and can often be cruel and even demoralizing.
The second piece of exciting news is that you don’t need to work out how the inner judge got there, who did it or who is to blame. You simply accept everyone has one and that’s that. Isn’t this the most liberating realization… you do not need to fix anything, nothing is broken, you’re not broken. You could even say… you’re perfect!
“Hardly” I hear you say.
Look at it this way, a positive perfectionist uses their reach toward perfectionism to create goals and actions. They consider where they want to get and what is the necessary action they need to take. In that, their focus removes the power and energy away from their inner judge and places it where it needs to be, in fulfilling the healthy standards that healthy perfectionism reaches for.
Real perfectionism is not in doing things perfectly, it is in giving your whole heart to whatever you do and loving the standards you are reaching for. What you do then becomes a continuous reach for perfection, with your heart not at all caring whether you ever reach it or not. The value of perfectionism is in the love that reaches for it, not whether it is ultimately achieved or not.
It Can Make or Break You
There are only two uses for perfectionism.
You can use perfectionism to open your heart and gain greater reach toward your ideals. Or you can use perfectionism to judge and cripple yourself.
If the value you hold in perfectionism lies in its achievement, that may well lead to self-defeating behaviour that will undoubtedly hold you back. Even worse, if your value lies in the achievement of perfection, this will be a major cause for crippling failure.
The positive perfectionist doesn’t use their negative emotions to drive success. They don’t need the inner judge to make them feel guilty or shameful to push to achieve a goal. The stress this causes you is registered in every part of your body and your mind. You become inefficient, low in productivity and ultimately you will age faster. And I should mention… stress is the fastest way to saggy skin and illness!
I don’t want to frighten you, just simply whisper in your ear there is another way to succeed and you must be in charge of the perfectionist within, not the other way around. You are the power holder.
My advice… Love reaching for perfectionism and care not whether you achieve it. Just love the continual reach.
If I had a dollar for each time a beauty professional shared with me… “I am a perfectionist, I must always do my best,” I would be a very wealthy woman.
Each time I hear this I know it can go either way. It isn’t being a perfectionist that can stifle one’s success, but rather the purpose it is used for.
There are times for all of us when our inner fears rise up. In those moments the most powerful and kindest choice you can make is to realize it’s okay, you are not the only one and gently turn your attention away from what will never serve the goodness in you.
The perfectionist within me is my greatest ally, it elevates me, inspires my growth and my evolution.
Give your perfectionist the goals and the actions it needs to achieve your dreams.
Think about it.