Sunday, January 26, 2014

Letting Go of Perfectionism

"I'll give you my perfectionism when you pry it from my cold, dead hands!"

This pastiche of the famous anti-gun control mantra came to mind when I looked at the title of this week's lesson for the Brene Brown "Gifts of Imperfection" e-course. It has been a few years since I figured out that perfectionism was a stumbling block for me. I wasn't a perfectionist in one or two areas of my life. It was a pervasive influence in nearly every thought and human interaction I experienced.

Don't be fooled by my use of the past tense in that last sentence: I'm not where I used to be with perfectionism, but I'm not where I'd like to be, either. The difference today is that I'm OK with saying that. Phew! There -- I admitted I'm not perfect can we just call it a day? No? This is going to require a little more work, isn't it?

To put this concept into practical terms this week, Dr. Brown is asking our class to strengthen self-compassion by talking to ourselves the same way we talk to the people we love. She points out that when her children mess up she is quick to say, "Hey, you're human. It's okay. I love you and we'll figure this out." But when she makes a mistake, she says to herself, "You idiot! What were you thinking? You really screwed this up."

A few months ago I posted an image called "Scumbag Brain" depicting what this behavior looks like when combined with an excellent memory. I found it so funny (and full of truth) because I'm guilty of talking this way. I also have an excellent memory, if I do say so myself!

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