Writing in the People in Recovery Blog, Dr. Brené Brown differentiates between healthy self-focused striving and perfectionism. Perfectionism is other-focused. “What will they think?” is the question first and foremost in the mind of the perfectionist.
Perfectionism is a twenty-ton shield that we lug around thinking will protect us when, in fact, it’s the thing that’s really preventing us from taking flight.
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Dr. Brown suggests that perfectionism is self-destructive and addictive. Self-destructive simply because none of us are perfect. Perfection is unattainable.
The perfectionist wants to be viewed by others as perfect. But, we have no way to absolutely control how we are perceived. We can spend all day and all night cultivating our image and we won’t succeed in controlling others.
The logic of perfectionism is inherently addictive. Since we will never be perfect, and never be perceived as perfect, we will fee shame and blame ourselves. Setting up a standard of perfections is the real culprit (what Brown calls “the faulty logic of perfectionism”) but we respond by doubling and tripling our efforts to be what we cannot be – perfect.