Softening perfectionism is a theme that runs through all our classes. It’s a common coping strategy – especially for those of us who are highly conscientious, heart centered and sensitive. (It’s a strategy I personally know very well!)
Perfectionism is a common and tender way to care for stress, overwhelm, and rupture.
We can try so hard to get it right.
Perfectionism can show up anywhere
Perfectionism can show up anywhere: in how we relate to our bodies, our emotions and needs, work, our relationships, and how we eat.
Like a rigid arrow, we may have inner parts that think there’s only one way to do something, or that we have to get things right the first time, or that we can’t make mistakes.
Perfectionism can expand and grow. When we feel frustrated by our perfectionism, ironically, we tend to fight against it with more perfectionism.
This doesn’t work, and tends to leave us feeling more frustrated, ashamed, and helpless – like we’re broken or there’s something wrong with us.
Bringing warmth to perfectionism
Fortunately, there is so much tenderness, warmth and curiosity for our perfectionism. We can soften into this tenderness and gently look closer: “I wonder what this perfectionistic part is feeling? I wonder what they’re needing? I wonder what can help?”
As we look closer, we find things like vulnerability, needs, and strategies for meeting our needs.
We might find a part of us saying, “I’m trying to help myself feel safe in a chaotic environment.”
Or, “I’m trying to belong.”
Or, “I’m stressed and overwhelmed and don’t know what to do.”
Perfectionism is a cry for connection
As we take in these statements, our whole bodies can soften.
Like so many other vulnerable feelings and strategies, perfectionism is a cry for connection – an invitation to lean in, to offer support, and to listen more closely to ourselves.
Listening is a doorway to understanding. And understanding helps us come alongside rather than ‘at’ ourselves. It softens our frustration, helps us forgive the perfectionism, and care for ourselves with more gentleness.
It also brings some humor when the perfectionism (inevitably) takes over again!
We connect again, and fall back into perfectionism, and connect again, and fall back in…and each time, with patience and kindness, we bring more love to the pattern, and more room for it to soften and dissolve. And more humor!
May we all bathe in the compassion that holds us, and the understanding that holds us all.