In order to stay the course in recovery we need to kick perfectionism to the curb…

You might be thinking, what’s wrong with striving for excellence or having high standards for myself? Absolutely nothing. However, when you hold yourself up to impossible standards with no room for error, missteps or occasional defeat, you are effectively telling yourself that you can’t be human.

As long as you are living and breathing you are going to make mistakes and as long as you are in recovery, there will be bumps along the way. It is not a linear process.

So what is perfectionism and why do some of us walk around as perfectionists? Perfectionism is a character trait that is strongly linked to eating disorders, anxiety, depression and other mental health issues.  Dr. Brene Brown who famously studies shame and vulnerability refers to perfectionism as “the 20-ton shield.” It’s rooted in the fear of others seeing us for who we are and it protects us from having to be seen by others.  There are many signs of perfectionism and many of us have varying degrees of these qualities. from Personal Excellence Blog describes several signs of perfectionism:

  • Having an all or nothing approach: You do everything perfectly or you don’t do anything at all.
  • Being extremely hard on yourself: You make a mistake and you beat yourself up.
  • You procrastinate in order to find the “perfect” moment.
  • You have impossibly high standards: No matter what you do it is never enough. 

There are plenty more examples but you get the idea…the shield of perfectionism keeps us feeling safe and unseen. But when our perfectionistic mind runs the show our world is then viewed through a narrow lens. And the moment we feel like we aren’t measuring up to our standards or we’ve made a mistake, we can quickly descend into a shame spiral.

This black and white thinking is as major roadblock in recovery: you’re good or you’re bad, you’re on plan or you’re off plan in a BIG way.

This type of thinking is exhausting and keeps you stuck in a vicious cycle. In order to stay the course, it’s imperative that you practice strategies to help you move through your mistakes by owning them, forgiving yourself, learning from the experience and moving forward. No more self-punishment, no more self-criticism. Recovery is about learning to live in the grey, growing from the missteps and never giving up.

Shine Bright!

Photo by Hello I’m Nik on Unsplash