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I’m a failure. I have and will always be a failure…when I try to be perfect. Perfection is impossible. But why do so many people suffer from perfectionistic thinking?

Brené Brown, author of The Gifts of Imperfection, says “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.”

So we THINK we are helping reduce our shame when we try to be perfect, but in reality, perfectionism is like pouring gas on shame because we always come to realize that ‘I’m a failure’.

How can you embrace the idea that ‘I’m a failure’ as a healthy way to combat perfectionism?

Admit your limits

It’s time to be realistic about what you can and can’t do. It doesn’t make you a failure to see that you have limitations in life, it makes you human. Welcome to the club.

Break free of the perfectionism trap and allow your humanness to show. Accept that you are human and show up in life as human…rather than trying to be “super human”. Use one of my favorite phrases that I use with my kids, “People make mistakes- that’s why pencils have erasers.”

You may need stretch in this area by vulnerably asking for help, replacing the perfectionistic lies with truth, purposely decrease your standards, and increase your self-care to give you a chance to rest from the warring high expectations in your head.

See perfectionism as an enemy

Brown also says, “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.
Have you ever felt paralyzed because of all the imperfections around you? Do you have trouble focusing and relaxing when things are out of your control? Has it led to anxiety or depression?
If so, it’s time to set yourself free from the impossible standards you set in your head. Equate the perfectionistic thoughts to an abuser who is out to hold your life hostage. Start fighting this enemy with truth that perfection is impossible, so therefore it’s normal that ‘I’m a failure’.

Learn from your failures

Failures aren’t something to wallow in and beat yourself up over. They are opportunities to learn and grow! If we get stuck in the fact that we failed, we’ve missed the chance to see an area to work on. Seeing where you need some improvement helps you navigate goals and helps you become more self-aware about your life. This mindset is a spring board out of a shame spiral and into a place of learning about yourself and growth.

It’s time to shed the perfectionistic mindset and embrace that I am an imperfect, real, failing, mistake making human- and so is everyone else. This helps us with the internal war in our minds as well as how we operate with those we love in relationships.

Look for a chance today to offer grace and love to yourself and others when someone’s humanness is showing.

What areas of perfectionism are the hardest for you to break and accept your limits?