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9 Mindset Habits of a Recovering Perfectionist

In my last post, I talked about how proud I was to be a perfectionist – until I realized how much it was getting in the way of what was important to me. Only when I royally screwed up my own (and God’s) standards did I stand face to face with my imperfection, and that shifted me into the Recovering Perfectionist phase of healing and growth.

In one humble moment, filled with shame and regret, I realized how striving for perfection would always keep me from what I truly wanted. Overcoming perfectionism through admitting my vulnerabilities has been key to my growth as a leader, writer and parent — and as a human.

Begin your journey as a Recovering Perfectionist with this question: What is your core desire?

The things my heart desired the most were:

:: Inner peace
:: To feel loved and valued
:: To become my best self without worrying about what others thought
:: Relationships where I could be fully me – and where others felt the same
:: Freedom and the adventure of new experiences

Tired of perfectionism getting in the way of what you long for? There’s hope for you! Your transformation can begin by adopting 9 mindset habits of a recovering perfectionist that have helped me:

1. A Recovering Perfectionists Accepts Soul-Level Grace

The first step is admitting you’re not perfect. Of course, you already knew that. But as perfectionists, there’s a part of us that tries to protect our hearts from finding out this devastating truth.

I’ve seen four common ways people shield their heart’s core from this truth – including me.

:: Performance – “I am what I accomplish so I’ll just try harder”
:: People pleasing – “As long as someone is happy, all is well”
:: Shame – “I’ve missed the mark and I’m a mistake; I deserve this pain and guilt”
:: Blame – Judging and condemning others and yourself as unworthy when a mistake is made

When all that is stripped away, we feel vulnerable… maybe even terrified. That’s the moment when you can truly accept soul-level grace. It’s the point when I understood grace for the first time.

Reflect: When you fully receive grace at your heart’s core, what does that feel like to you? Peace? Relief? Rest? Love?

2. Uncovers the Reason Perfection is Needed

It wasn’t until I messed up big time and I accepted I wasn’t perfect that I realized why being perfect was so important to me. Despite growing up in a loving family and loving God with all my heart, I had felt the need to earn their approval and love.

At the time, this realization devastated me. I knew better than that. However, realizing perfectionism was tied to a deeper fear of failure or rejection helped me explore that more readily. When I’d find myself obsessing over getting a social post just right or overediting my book, Dare to Decide, I pause and ask, “What am I afraid of?” The answer was usually sobering, but also freeing.

If you are a writer, reflect on why you feel the pressure to be perfect in your writing. Allow grace to permeate your motivation, freeing you to write from a place of authenticity and purpose.

Reflect: What are you trying to earn through your perfection at a soul level? Accepting grace in this desire acknowledges your lack so that you can receive what you need regardless of your performance. It will do wonders for your self-worth.

3. Recognize the Difference Between Perfection and Done: Define What You Are Aiming For

What’s the definition of perfection?

perfection: : the quality or state of being perfect: such as
a: freedom from fault or defect FLAWLESSNESS | b: MATURITY | c: the quality or state of being saintly

2a: an exemplification of supreme excellence | b: an unsurpassable degree of accuracy or excellence

3the act or process of perfecting

Perfection Definition & Meaning – Merriam-Webster

Brene Brown describes perfection this way: “If I look perfect, live perfectly, and do everything perfectly, I can avoid or minimize the painful feelings of shame, judgment, and blame.”

At what point can you call something perfect? A healthy striving for excellence versus perfection moves towards something, instead of avoiding it or sinking into a mire of self-loathing and despair. Aiming for excellence encompasses the thrill and pride of creating an experience or accomplishment that someone can enjoy. You get the satisfaction of saying, “I/We did it!” and becoming resourceful and creative with what you have.

However, to let go of perfection, it’s helpful to define what you are aiming for. Unfortunately, the dictionary definitions of “excellent” might as well say “perfection” to a perfectionist. Instead, try one of these synonyms to describe what you are aiming for with your project:

exceptional brilliant exquisite fine magnificent outstanding distinguished exemplary extraordinary incredible sensational spectacular admirable amazing great impressive splendid superb wonderful accomplished enviable first-rate grand notable peerless premium prime sterling supreme transcendent unparalleled world-class elegant elite glorious good illustrious incomparable phenomenal preeminent attractive first-class invaluable noted pre-eminent priceless really good striking very good applaudable beautiful desirable estimable exclusive fancy gilt-edged matchless praiseworthy refined superlative vintage worthy commendable dominant heavenly high-quality bodacious bonzer bosker bosting brill certified classic corking crackerjack cracking dandy divine dynamite fantabulous fantastical five-star four-star frontline magic supercalifragilisticexpialidocious advanced forward progressive modern state-of-the-artof value of service of help savory tasty blest palatable amusing entertaining thrilling

What is another word for excellent? | Excellent Synonyms – WordHippo Thesaurus

You get the point. Even one of those words won’t be enough until you define it further. So define it: what will “done” mean to you with whatever you’re working on?

4. Believe that Accomplishments (and Failures) are not Your Identity

Choosing to not claim perfectionist as my identity has its tough moments when something I achieve or try doesn’t turn out well. Receiving soul-level grace was the foundation for reminding myself that what I feel in a moment doesn’t equal my worth as a person.

When you feel like

“I’m not enough”
“I don’t have what it takes”
“I’m a screw-up”

You don’t have to waste energy believing it, arguing it or affirming it. Just accept it in that moment, and say, “So what? I’ve been called to do this anyway, so let’s do this.”

5. Focus on the WhyInstead of the End Goal

Determination is both my strength and my weakness. There are times when I can be so determined to see something through that I forget the big picture.

If you get lost in the striving, remind yourself of why you want to accomplish this. Keep paring it down to the simple goal. If you’re a creative, keep sight of the deeper purpose behind your writing or artist journey. Let your why guide you through the process, helping you stay grounded amidst challenges and distractions. This will help you:

:: let go of unnecessary extras
:: see new perspectives along the way
:: diffuse arguments that don’t matter
:: release stress over details that don’t really matter
:: cancel the critic in your head
:: relax through changes and surprises

Reflect: What matters most in the task or the dream you’re hustling?

6. Use Failure to Deepen Your Relationships

Perfectionists take failure pretty hard. Usually, that means we withdraw from others rather than lean into the deep connection our hearts long for. When you mess up or things don’t turn out the way they were supposed to, admitting these to the safe relationships close to you can deepen the connection your heart craves.

These have become the moments I’ve learned to go to God for “a hug.” Weird? Maybe, but that visualization helps me navigate my emotions and gain perspective. These are some of my most memorable moments with God!

Being real about your failures can also deepen your relationships with family, friends, biz besties, mastermind group, coworkers. Share your business or writing struggles and failures with trusted confidants who get it and can offer support and encouragement. Chances are, they won’t lose respect for you but, instead, share a failure they experienced. Vulnerability fosters connection and strengthens both your creativity and your relationships.

7. Prioritize What’s Most Important

Whenever my To Do List begins to overwhelm me, that’s my cue to evaluate the list. It’s hard ranking what is most important when I want to get it ALL done! But it’s time to get realistic.

If overwhelm freezes you, list what’s bugging you to get done. Jot down how long each task should take (and if you’re like me and underestimate everything – double that time). Then, pick 3 to focus on, and release or reschedule the others.

Whether you work yourself into a tizzy or choose what’s most important, you won’t get your entire list done. This exercise gives you the choice to release what you can’t control and work from a state of peace so that you can be more present in the process.

8. Face Fear Head On

One year I got sick of staying safe and comfortable because of fear. So I decided that if fear was the only thing holding me back from an idea or opportunity, then I’d do it.  I could choose not to take a risk or opportunity because it was unwise, not a priority, or just plain dumb, but I would not avoid it just because of fear. That meant I accepted opportunities like speaking in front of groups, going on a blind date, and stepping into conflict. And I became better for it.

What would you say yes to if fear weren’t in the way?

9. Embrace the Process and the Journey

Don’t you love the thrill of arriving at a destination you’ve been anticipating? After all your planning, hard work, and experiencing the surprises and mishaps along the way… you’ve finally arrived!

The harder the journey, the greater the thrill and appreciation once you get there. The memories you treasure, however, aren’t usually the arrival point. The whole experience becomes sacred. The challenges that shaped you become your treasures.

As an author or creator, embrace the ups and downs of the writing process, finding joy and fulfillment in the journey itself. Treasure the growth and transformation that occur along the way, knowing that each step brings you closer to fulfilling God’s purpose for your book. Find ways to enjoy the journey of learning, discovery and stretching, and expect nothing less when taking on a new goal or stepping into your calling.

There’s good news: You don’t have to be a perfectionist — you can upgrade to a recovering perfectionist!

You are so much more than a label. You are someone who has an incredible part in God’s story. He’s invited you into it — not because you’re qualified, worthy or equipped. He’s invited you into a life of purpose and hope because He loves you and knows your story and message will bring that same hope to someone else.

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