Yes, you read that right. Perfectionism isn’t a problem, it’s actually a solution. It’s a solution we often subconsciously choose to try and stop self-abuse.
When you seek perfectionism, which is the refusal to accept any standard short of perfection, then you protect yourself from a personal “beating.” You can’t beat yourself up when you only allow for perfection, defined as the condition, state, or quality of being free or as free as possible from all flaws or defects.
Though perfectionism offers this protection, it’s not a perfect solution. The pattern of perfectionism has limitations. Most people, even those who claim to be perfectionists, believe that perfection isn’t possible, so that sets you up for “failure” right there.
But even if you can get past that first “failure” hurdle and get in action, perfectionism will keep you from ever being fully committed to completion. You may know what to do to get the goals you’ve set for yourself, but perfectionism stops you from doing it at a fully committed level. If you’re not fully committed, then you’re not creating the success you desire or deserve.
In the midst of all this, you’re likely abusing yourself anyway, so the solution of perfectionism doesn’t work.
So what DOES work?
The first thing that works is having hope. HOPE. My wife created a phrase to capture HOPE: Hearts Open Powerful Emotions. This means the first thing is to open your heart. Too often, when we are trying to “fix” things, we are in our heads. When you’re in your head, it’s hard to have hope, because you can create worry and all kinds of other what-if scenarios. But if you can move from your head to your heart, you open the path to powerful emotions that can create positive change.
The most powerful emotion of all is love. Love is the second thing that works to stop any self-abuse. In order for the change to be effective, you must learn to love yourself, unconditionally. Unconditional self-love makes perfectionism irrelevant, because if you love yourself no matter what, it does not matter what you do or fail to do, or how you do what you do. All that matters loving yourself.
Loving yourself is tied directly into the third thing that works to stop self-abuse: acceptance.
While love and acceptance are closely related, they are not the same thing. Acceptance is a manifestation of love, and yet, often love begins with acceptance. If you do not accept yourself, you will not be able to fully and unconditionally love yourself. But if you already unconditionally love yourself, you will have acceptance for yourself, too.
Now let me go back to hope, because even though I hope you love and accept yourself, I know the reality is that many people do not. Still, the hope exists that you can stop abusing yourself and learn to love and accept you as you are. I have hope because you have the power to change this.
When you decide to love and accept yourself as you are, you no longer need to hold on to patterns or the protection of perfectionism. When you unconditionally love and accept yourself, all of your actions and efforts are good enough, regardless of the result. Actions will be easier to take, too, because the fear of self-abuse has been replaced by self-love.
Is it that easy?
Yes, and no.
You see, we are all capable of loving ourselves, so it’s a simple yes. It is that easy.
The no comes in because even though we are capable of loving ourselves, we are often sorely out of practice. Many of us have forgotten to love ourselves while seeking the love of others, hoping that it will be enough to make us feel good and overpower any abuse we may inflict upon ourselves. While external love may be enough at times, it will never be enough all the time.
And I’ll be real; you won’t love yourself all the time either. But that doesn’t mean you should stop trying. Seek help if you need it. Whatever the problem, love is the solution, so have HOPE and keep looking for ways to love yourself.
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