Let’s be honest — life feels heavy sometimes. Sometimes the end of the week couldn’t come any faster, and sometimes you can’t hit the pillows fast enough! Yet there’s an insensitive saying that tells us to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, so we act like we’ve got it all together. We wear the word busy like a name tag as we smile and hide our true feelings: overwhelmed, exhausted, spread thin. Could it be that we have crafted duct tape wings of freedom through perfectionism? What if our best defense turned out to be the very thing that continues to weigh us down?
Brené Brown, Ph.D., LMSW, stated, “Perfectionism is not healthy striving. Perfectionism is not about being the best you can be [. . .] It is a protection device. Perfectionism is a belief system that says, ‘If I do it perfect, look perfect, and live perfect, I can avoid or minimize feelings of judgment, shame and criticism.’ [. . .] It is a 200-pound shield that we carry around with us.” Carrying around a 200-pound shield sounds heavy. What a burden! And according to Dr. Brown, it only gets worse. “When we go out and we’re pretty perfect, but we still feel criticized or judged or blamed, then our response to that is not, ‘Aw, man. That perfectionism doesn’t work at all!’ Our response is, ‘More perfect! I need to get more perfect; I was not perfect enough.”
The truth is that nobody has it all together, and it’s burdensome to keep up the pretense. Imagine how much lighter you’d feel if you were able to lay your shields down. What would happen if we gave ourselves just a little grace today? What if we gave ourselves a break? Dr. Brown argues that embracing imperfection is one of the keys to living an authentic and wholehearted life. “Authenticity is a daily practice. It’s about the courage to be imperfect,” she stated. What if we ditched the false shield of perfectionism and courageously dove headfirst into the ocean of authenticity and wholeness?
If you’d like a professional to help you on your journey toward authenticity and wholeheartedness, please visit www.therefugecenter.org to find a therapist with whom you can begin your journey.
*Quotes from Dr. Brown are taken from her live recording entitled The Hustle for Worthiness: Exploring the Power of Love, Belonging, and Being Enough (2010).