Ditching Perfectionism

As ambitious women we want to live, work + create in the flow of success. Whether that’s in the boardroom or the kitchen, whether we are a full time mom, an entrepreneur, a corporate executive or a soon to be college grad we want to execute our vision. We want to contribute. We want to live from our hearts and lead from our revelations. We want to communicate and collaborate, party and peace-make. We want to take exceptional care of ourselves and everyone else we love. We want to make an impact in our communities and our families. Underneath it all, what we really want is to know that we are worthy and that we belong.

And if you are like me, you also want to do it with total abundance. You want to get more done in less time with ease.  You want your lifestyle to make financial sense and most importantly you want to spend your time doing what you love.  Anything less than this feels, well I’m just going to say it- like total freaken torture.

I got you, I understand.

I am here to tell you that the heart driven success you are after is your birthright. It’s actually your gift to humanity. You are here to do nothing short of this.

In the words of feminist theologian Meggan Watterson, “We don’t earn our worth, we claim it.”  And if we get this at our core, on a deep internal level, it makes our work in the external world so much easier.  I promise. (Btw, Meggan’s recently published Hayhouse book Reveal: A Sacred Manual for Getting Spiritually Naked rocks. I highly suggest it.)

That’s not to say we won’t have struggle and breakdown, cause we will.  Nor does it mean that we can go out and rack up credit card debt without the consistent income we need to responsibly pay it off either.  I am not talking about owning our worth and never having conflict again, because honestly, I do not believe that type of utopia really exists.

What I am talking about here is not reaching perfection, it’s finding optimal instead.

I am talking about 100% owning the truth of whom we are- flaws, freckles, and warts included: and operating from this place as a default setting in our lives.

You see, if we go into the world looking for the world to validate our worth, instead of sourcing it from within we are already operating from a deficit and this complicates our ability to expand our very essence… When we come from a place of needing to prove something we usually just push it away. Not only does this striving for worth and validation prolong our desire to achieve our goal; but, unfortunately it also wreaks havoc on our body too.

To really get into the groove of our RHYTHM and find the flow we are looking for there are a few things we need let go of first, starting with our need for perfection.

In Dr. Tal Ben Shahar’s book Being Happy: You don’t have to be Perfect to Lead a Richer, Happier Life he says, “A perfectionist wants a smooth, direct path free of obstacles and anything less than this creates frustration… A perfectionist rejects failure, wanting an unending flow of positive emotions rejecting painful ones… Perfectionism disrupts happiness because standards are too high, nothing is ever good enough.” To the point of positive psychologist Dr. Tal Ben Shahar, one of the biggest blocks to creating more success is not our desire for more, it’s our desire for perfect.

So before we explore how to get more of what we want let’s first take a look at why we want what we want. Do we want greater levels of success or are we searching for perfection?

(It is a full moon in Libra at 5:27 AM EST tomorrow, Wednesday March 27, 2013, and this is an important moon for getting really clear on our vision and values! There is some serious, cranky, energy in the air asking us to dig deep into what we really, really want, and to let go of the need for perfection.)

Ask yourself this: If you could triple your energy, clarity and stamina to create anything you want, what would it be?

Why do you want this?

What would it mean about you if you could create it?

Is your desire somehow linked to a need to be perfect? Or does your desire support your optimal essence?

To loosely quote Dr. Brene Brown from her Super Soul Sunday episode with Oprah,  “Perfectionism is driven by fear and is different than the drive for excellence, perfectionism is a form of protection, it’s a protective barrier that keeps us from vulnerability.”

In 1980, Dr. David Burns defined perfectionists as, “Those whose standards are high beyond reach or reason, people who strain compulsively and unrelentingly towards impossible goals and who measure their own worth entirely in terms of productivity and accomplishment.”

Ok, so let’s explore this.  I agree with Brene Brown and I feel that perfectionism is different than excellence.  We can achieve excellence without perfection. And I can really connect with the sentiment that wanting perfection is a form of protection, because the promise of perfection rules out the chance for criticism and failure.  Talk about motivation.  Who wouldn’t want to have guaranteed results that rule out the chance of criticism and failure?  But at what cost?

In Dr. David Burns’ definition of a perfectionist he talks about “straining unrelentingly and compulsively towards impossible goals.”  It’s exactly this type of strain and compulsion that can very easily throw your hormonal make up off, sending your adrenal glands into overdrive, straining your stress response, eventually causing your libido to crash and your cycle to get out of whack.  Measuring one’s own worth in terms of productivity and accomplishment has an extremely high cost on the female hormonal system.  This is why I am bringing this up.  In order for you to reach peak performances ranges taking exceptional care of your hormones is a non-negotiable. Perfectionism is like a slap in the face to your ovaries.

We are not looking for perfection, we are looking for optimal.

But if we are going to concede to our own imperfections and throw away the notion that we can “manifest” a life without conflict, failure, or uncomfortable personal experiences that means we have to develop a different strategy to handle life’s ups and downs.

If you have a “a what you talking about Willis” look on your face… did she just say I can’t put my entire life force energy into creating consistent perfect conditions where I am never vulnerable to failure, conflict, or my shadow (amongst other things) and you do not know if I am your girl anymore… let me reiterate my point.  You can put all of your time and energy into straining and striving to accomplish the goals that you believe will ultimately define your worth, while you fear failure like it’s the single worst thing that could ever happen to you, keeping your body clenched tightly with stress, compromising your libido and fertility, and pretty much ruling out any chance for real intimacy in life -or- you can accept that perfection is an illusion, failure is an intricate part of success, and inevitably in life there will be some conflict.

I will tell you, I’ve made a clear choice to make friends with discomfort and ironically since then I’ve become far more comfortable. Just sayin’.

The RHYTHM of Success honestly requires owning up to the human experience, and accepting that perfection really isn’t an option, and that well, sometimes things can become messy.  In my opinion you and your ovaries are far better served by claiming your inherent worth as an inevitable piece of who you are- something you do not need to earn and can never lose.  And therefore making the conversation of perfectionism null and void.  Because if know you are inherently worthy, things can go perfectly or not, and it really doesn’t matter.

On this full moon, I invite you to accept imperfections and ditch perfectionism. Define your core values and adhere to them unrelentingly instead.

Be well!

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