Guest Writer for Wake Up World
Perfectionism can be a real joy killer. If I had been too afraid to appear imperfect, I might have stayed in two unhappy marriages or kept a job that was sucking the life out of me.
Perfectionism can also be a barrier to intimacy, as well as a potent form of self-sabotage. If I had been committed to trying to give a perfect performance in front of a live studio audience, for example, I might have missed the chance to giggle and connect with the audience the way I did when I flubbed up my words and exposed my imperfections. They might have wrongly assumed that I had it all together, when the honest truth was that I was terrified to be doing something so far outside of my comfort zone.
But, as soon as I let go of the expectation of perfection in myself, my whole body relaxed. I could be imperfect! And I would still be good enough…
I realize that’s what it really comes down to. When I’m too focused on being perfect, it’s usually because, deep in the shadows lies a basic lack of worthiness. Some part of me thinks that, if only I overdeliver, I’ll finally be good enough.
But beneath that shadowy part of myself lies something deeper, something more true, something I call my Inner Pilot Light, and that part of me know that I am – and YOU are – inherently worthy simply because we all have sparks of Divinity within us, and we don’t have to prove anything in order to earn that worth.
Excellence Or Perfectionism?
I notice in myself this struggle between the quest for excellence and the tug of perfectionism. Where is the line? How much striving for excellence is noble versus how much is just ego, rearing its overfluffed head?
Heading into the filming of this public television special, I was aware that, yes, the stakes were high. Yes, my publisher had invested a lot of money to produce this special. Yes, a lot of people will view it. And of course, I want to do a good job.
The same was true in my career as a doctor. A person’s life is on the line. The stakes are high. You don’t want your surgeon to be one of those medical school slackers who swears by the “C=MD” formula! But is it really necessary to push yourself to be top of your class like I did?
Here are my thoughts on how to tell the difference.
5 Tips For Overcoming Perfectionism
1. Give 90%.
90% of the pain of perfectionism comes from trying to eke out that last 10%, when 90% is pretty damn excellent. 2. Choose ease.
If you’re finding yourself pushing, striving, trying too hard, or if your work becomes burdensome, you feel the pressure piling on, and you’re in “fight-or-flight” all the time, you’re edging beyond the desire for excellence into perfectionism territory. As Christiane Northrup taught me, try being less sperm, more egg.
You’ll know you’re really in the flow when you’re doing great work, but it doesn’t feel like struggle, when you get winks from the Universe, things line up easily, and the quality of your work doesn’t suffer – you just didn’t have to suffer in order to achieve great things.
3. Know your inherent worthiness.
As long as we look outside ourselves for validation that we are enough, we will always be tempted to over-deliver. Try repeating affirmations that remind you that your value lies within. “I am more than enough.” Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
4. Send your Gremlin to time out.
There’s a voice in your head that can be a nasty bastard. I call it “The Gremlin,” and it’s the voice of your fearful, insecure inner critic. If you’re not maxing out your output, giving to the point of depletion (and for many of us, even then!) your Gremlins might be tempted to wage war.
Instead of letting your Gremlins get the best of you, listen to your Inner Pilot Light and know that you don’t need to be perfect. In fact, as Brené Brown teaches in The Gifts Of Imperfection, your imperfections are actually the gateway to intimacy, the way people can relate to you. Who can relate to anyone who never makes mistakes? (BO-RING!)
5. Set goals but release attachment to outcomes.
It’s one thing to set the goal of delivering a genius manuscript or a standing ovation performance or a gold star sales report or a successful surgical outcome or the desire to win the case/ land the client/ get the deal. It’s another to place your sense of value in how much you achieve.
Instead, do the best you can (well, 90% of your best) and then let it go. Trust. Have faith. And lean into your own sense of inherent worthiness.
Are You A Perfectionist?
Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself
We’ve been led to believe that when we get sick, it’s our genetics. Or it’s just bad luck — and doctors alone hold the keys to optimal health. Therefore when Dr. Lissa Rankin’s own health started to suffer, she turned to Western medical treatments, but what she found was that they not only failed to help; they made her worse. So she decided to take matters into her own hands.
Through her research, Dr. Rankin discovered that the health care she had been taught to practice was missing something crucial: a recognition of the body’s innate ability to self-repair and an appreciation for how we can control these self-healing mechanisms with the power of the mind. To better understand this phenomenon, she explored peer-reviewed medical literature and found evidence that the medical establishment had been proving that the body can heal itself for over 50 years.
In this book, you’ll find a radical new wellness model based on Dr. Rankin’s scientific findings. Her unique six-step program will help you uncover where things might be out of whack in your life, and how to trust your inner guidance when making decisions about your health and your life. By the time you finish Mind Over Medicine, you’ll have made your own diagnosis, written your own prescription, and created a clear action plan designed to help you make your body ripe for miracles.
Mind Over Medicine is available here on Amazon.
Previous articles by Lissa Rankin:
- How to Make Your Body Ripe for Miracles
- The Critical Thing Your Doctor Needs to Know – and Probably Doesn’t
- Are You “Spiritual But Not Religious?”
- A Lesson In Empathy
- 9 Practical Tips to Help You Find Your Calling
- 10 Fun Ways to Reduce Your Cortisol Levels
- 6 Stories To Make You Believe In The Power Of The Mind To Heal You
- A Radical Way To Grow Spiritually In A Relationship
- 7 Tips For Finding Your Tribe
- 10 Surprising Things That Trigger “Fight-Or-Flight”
About the author:
Lissa Rankin, MD is a mind-body medicine physician, founder of the Whole Health Medicine Institute training program for physicians and healthcare providers, and the New York Times bestselling author of Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself & The Fear Cure. She is on a grass roots mission to heal healthcare, while empowering you to heal yourself.
Lissa blogs at LissaRankin.com and also created two online communities – HealHealthCareNow.com and OwningPink.com. She is also the author of two other books, a speaker, a professional artist, an amateur ski bum, and an avid hiker. She lives in the San Francisco Bay area with her husband and daughter.