Don’t Let Perfectionism Drain You

“Whenever I think of something but can’t think of what it was I was thinking of, I can’t stop thinking until I think I’m thinking of it again. I think I think too much.”

Have you ever written something, went through it like twice to check if there were any spelling mistakes until you were satisfied that the document was perfect? How would you feel if someone pointed out several spelling mistakes in a document you deemed perfect?

Understanding the difference between healthy striving and perfectionism is critical to laying down the shield and picking up your life. Research shows that perfectionism hampers success. In fact, it’s often the path to depression, anxiety, addiction, and life paralysis.
There is always someone who’s better than you.

I was once a perfectionist and for me it would have been dreadfully embarrassing for me, years ago, to have made a mistake like a spelling mistake. I would have spiraled down that old “you’re such an idiot Sharon, what is this person going to think of you, Sharon!”

And then, I started reading about all the mistakes successful people openly share with their audiences. Oprah has been open about all the lapses in judgement she made when she was a youth. The founder of LinkedIn, Reid Hoffman, said: “if you’re not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late”. In her book, Thrive, Arianna Huffington comes clean about working too hard and not getting enough sleep. Collapsing in her office one day was her wake up call to self-care.

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 shame, judgment, and blame.

You see, trying hard to be perfect is no longer helpful. People see right through it (especially if you’re face to face). Brene Brown (author of the “Gifts Of Imperfection” and the speaker of one of the most popular talks on TED) has shown us all, that our “imperfections” are what make us endearing and unique. Your story, your TRUE story, is what people these days want to hear, especially your stories of triumph after a disaster.

Remember the world has changed. People want to see the truth, they want to see what’s real. One of the biggest complaints I hear about social media is how “happy” everyone seems to be all the time. We all get the sense that it’s not 100% of the story.

Have you ever posted a photo online, and you knew you were looking really great (because you had done enough editing) and only one person liked it? How did that make you feel? Less attractive, I guess.

Our culture is obsessed with perfection, especially when it comes to the way women look. The parameters of acceptability as far as physical appearance go are so limiting that only a handful of women actually fall into this category. And the rest of us are left to either squeeze ourselves into molds that don’t fit, hating ourselves all the while, or we just give up entirely.

So, are you still trying hard to impress people? Are you still reading and re-reading anything you put out there? Still delaying that thing you want to get done because “it’s just not ready”? It’s time to let all that go. The pressure of it is taking its toll on you, I’m sure.

We are interested in your message, your thought leadership, your energy, your ideas, the gifts you have to share with the world, your true and amazing stories – funny, sad, unbelievable, astounding stories.


“When things are perfect, that’s when you need to worry most.”
Drew Barrymore


Credit: Cece Ojany


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