Week 1 : Day 5 : Home Journal

Brene Brown / Perfectionism vs Healthy Striving

Brene Brown / Perfectionism vs Healthy Striving

I engaged in a spat with someone who said my definition of perfectionism wasn’t perfectionism because there was nothing wrong with perfectionism according to the dictionary definition. The person I was arguing with could not imagine perfectionism being a problem, that the problem was really defeatism. I was wanting to talk about how the cognitive distortion of all-or-nothing thinking drives us into the snowbank of failure we are trying to hard to avoid. It made me mad that he was right. Our culture has hijacked a perfectly good word, perfectionism, and made it into a syndrome. And I was mad that I wasn’t right. I really, really, really wanted to be right. I wanted people to see me as a resource, as an authority on emotional well-being and he called me out in public as not being good enough. It made me want to quit the whole mess. Think that one through, notice my shame because I wasn’t being perfect, and wallow in the irony. I’ll be here when you get back.

According to Brown, healthy striving is wanting to please yourself and perfectionism is what-will-people-think. Working to silence the critical voices in your head doesn’t count as pleasing yourself. There is a difference in pleasure we feel in a job well done and the relief we feel when we believe we are avoiding criticism.

The question, how do you know you’re doing enough and not just sliding by, comes up. That question leads us back to the beautiful question
Is everyone doing the best they can?
Answer this one for yourself and we’ll revisit it when we ponder compassion again.
If I do this perfectly, I am invulnerable.

Where do you place this piece of armor? Where do you try to be perfect to avoid criticism?

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