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Brene Brown

4 destructive traits of perfectionism, from Dr. Brené Brown

And, Brené’s list of 5 things perfectionism is NOT

In her latest book Dare to Lead, TED sensation Brené Brown says it’s important to distinguish perfectionism from healthy striving for excellence.

Here are her definitions of perfectionism:

  1. Perfectionism is a self-destructive and addictive belief system that fuels this primary thought: If I look perfect and do everything perfectly, I can avoid or minimize the painful feelings of blame, judgement, and shame.

        2. Perfectionism is an unattainable goal. It’s more about perception than internal motivation, and there is no way to control perception, no matter how much time and energy is spent trying.

           3.  Perfectionism is addictive, because when we invariably do experience shame, judgement and blame, we often believe it’s because we weren’t perfect enough. Rather than questioning the faulty logic of perfectionism, we become even more entrenched in our quest to look and do everything just right.

           4.    Perfectionism actually sets us up to feel shame, judgement and blame, which then leads to more shame, judgement and blame: It’s my fault. I’m feeling this way because I’m not good enough.

And, here’s her take on what perfectionism is NOT:

  • It’s not striving for excellence. It’s not about healthy achievement and growth. Perfectionism is a defensive move.

  • It’s not the self-protection we think it is. It’s a 20 tonne shield we lug around, thinking it will protect us, when in fact it’s the thing that’s really preventing us from being seen.

  • Perfectionism is not self-improvement. Perfection is, at its core, about trying to earn approval. Early praise for achievement and performance has become a dangerous and debilitating belief system: “I am what I accomplish and how well I accomplish it, please, perform, perfect, prove.”

  • Perfectionism is not the key to success. In fact, research shows perfectionism hampers achievement and is correlated with depression, anxiety, addiction and life paralysis, or missed opportunities. The fear of failing, making mistakes, not meeting people’s expectations, and being criticised keeps us outside the arena where healthy competition and striving unfolds.

  • Lastly, perfectionism is not a way to avoid shame. Perfectionism is a function of shame.

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