My journey with Perfectionism and Worthiness
Updated: Jan 7, 2022
My journey with perfectionism and worthiness has been the most exhausting, confronting, eye-opening and healing.
It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I recognised underlying potential issues with my perfectionism. I have always been a high achiever. Even whilst navigating trauma and grief within my late teens, I was still achieving top grades to attend the most recommended universities to study Psychology within the UK. In my working life, I was also a high performer, working all hours I could to deliver results for my leaders, team, and clients. I lived for recognition from the powers that be, meaning work nominations, shoutouts, awards etc gave me the same high as drugs and alcohol. All I ever wanted to do was “make everyone proud”.
Deep down, I was in turmoil. The trauma, pain, suppressed emotion, shame etc all layering on top of one another, weighing me down. The high from my external recognition waned, leaving the loud voice of my inner critic (now called Gretchen after one of the Mean Girls characters), who would goad me for hours on end. Terrified of failure or being ‘fired’, I would wear multiple masks, dependent upon the people I was around. I would develop crippling people-pleasing tendencies, in an attempt to be the best friend, colleague, daughter, sister, partner. I had zero boundaries in my personal or work life, leaving the line between work and home incredibly blurred. My mobile phone and work emails were accessible at all times, whatever the time of day, so I could react as soon as something or someone needed my attention.
Burnout and mental health challenges became more frequent. I was numbing out my pain and joy on a regular basis, my body fuelled by caffeine and red wine during stressful periods.
For the most, I was able to maintain my smiling, positive mask. Until I couldn’t any longer.
Thankfully, I hired holistically trained Coaches who helped me to dig deep into my unconscious. I lost myself within the work of Brené Brown, a shame specialist who has written incredible insights into perfectionism and worthiness.
I began to understand how my childhood parentification and relational trauma had made me hypervigilant and anxious. How perfectionism allowed me to gain a degree of unhealthy control, and gain validation in ways that I wasn’t able to do myself. I now realise that I was always linking my self worth to external outcomes, always feeling like a failure if things didn’t go to ‘plan’ or I didn’t get the reaction I had imagined.
“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”. – Brené Brown.
Healing my trauma, releasing shame and allowing myself to step into my authentic, sensitive superpowers, has enabled me to start taking imperfect, messy action within my personal life and business. I am not desperately clinging onto the branch at the side of the river, but going with the rivers beautiful, unpredictable flow. I have explored my spirituality in a way that compliments this choice to surrender and trust. To connect with me in a way that I was never able to before, and now be able to give myself everything I need, rather than look outside of myself. I AM worthy, ALWAYS, regardless of what happens.
Breaking these cycles, healing ourselves and stepping out into the world authentically is not easy. It takes courage, responsibility, and an open mind. The great news is, there is a world outside of perfectionism and hustle, and you deserve it.
I am so fortunate that I now get to help other women to break free from these shackles. To release unconscious core beliefs about themselves that only hold them back from the life they dream of. To start taking messy, imperfect action with me by their side. There are no failures here, only lessons and opportunities. Let’s embrace the flow.