A perfectionist is someone who thinks that anything short of perfect is unacceptable. They go to pains to have the perfect outfit, the perfect house, the perfect social media posts, the perfect family, etc.
A perfectionist is a person who is bravely doing his/her best to find happiness. Even though life may look good from the outside, there is most likely real sadness buried deep in the heart of each and every perfectionist.
That’s why I have real compassion for people with perfectionist behaviours. Perfectionists need love and acceptance and help from their coaches.
I’m an ex-perfectionist. In my 20’s – 30’s at work and even at home I had to control everything and make sure everything was just right. I cared so much about what people thought about my house, my appearance, my work that I slaved away like a dog to be infallible. But, to err is human so having no faults was aiming for the impossible. Longing for the impossible is like having an itch you can never scratch.
Many years later I discovered that my perfectionist behaviour was basically me attempting to fill a void in my soul. I hoped that by doing more, being more, having more I would then be enough, be worthy.
But “more” doesn’t help when self-acceptance and self-love are missing.
Looking back I can see that my perfectionism was really an old fear that I held from my childhood that I’m not good enough and I’m not worthy of love.
Distorted Belief Systems
Most children are intuitive, sensitive, adaptive beings who desire love, connection, security from their parents and community. If they don’t get these things they form beliefs that are based on a fear of not being loved and accepted. They learn to not love and accept themselves.
Perfectionists are people who grow up with the distorted belief that they are unworthy of love and acceptance. So they try to earn love and worth by doing things to the highest standard possible. They can even overdo it. It takes time and energy to have everything perfect all the time and this takes time away from Living.
I know I’m not alone in this old pattern. I see it all the time in many people I meet. The thing that breaks my heart is that it doesn’t have to be this way. With a few new skills and some practice, perfectionists can learn how to fall in love with themselves and be happy in their own skin no matter what other people think. And all the time and energy used to go into proving that you are enough just gets freed up! Get hours of living back.
I believe perfect DOES exist right now. You are perfect just as you are, as are your clients.
This is because you have been created from source energy, from God – from perfection. YOU are Life and all Life is created in its own perfect order. You are on your uniquely perfect soul’s journey.
When we are born and as we grow up most of us forget our connection to perfection. Some of us learn to re-member our perfection (Read Conversations with God for more on re-membering the truth of who you really are.).
As coaches, we can guide our clients to re-member their connection to the divine, to source energy but we have to see it in ourselves first. We become mirrors that shine back our client’s perfect light.
As coaches, if we can help our clients get under their perfectionist behaviour they will have a better life for it.
In my experience, there are two main things we need to navigate our clients to:
- Conscious awareness of the time they are spending on making things perfect and how that is impacting them in their work, relationships, and self-care. Is this OK or something they want to change? If they are happy, then you honour their free will choice but at least you have empowered them by guiding them to making a conscious decision. If they want to change you can explore the next part.
- They are perfect as they are. What can they let go of and what new behaviours can they cultivate to embody feeling worthy of love and acceptance.
Here are some helpful coaching questions to help your perfectionist clients get under their perfectionism and get onto the path of self-acceptance and self-love.
- When you say to yourself, “I am perfect”. What do you feel in your body? What do you think about? What’s your emotional reaction? Is this what you want or would you like a different relationship with your perfection?
- When you start to see yourself and your journey through life without judgement – as perfect with all it’s ups and downs, failures and successes – what would change in your life?
- What do you need to let go of to tune in even more to your perfection the divine spark within you?
- What tools, support, and/or resources do you need to further embrace your perfection?