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Becoming a Recovered Perfectionist

Posted October 25, 2012 by Rebecca Niziol in On the Ladder

Hello, everyone. My name is Rebecca. And I am a recovering perfectionist. Here’s my story:

I first became addicted to being perfect when I was a little girl. Oh the sweet satisfaction of seeing Mom and Dad’s smiles as I took the first place podium at the gymnastics meet. A+ and I became best friends, while B seemed to stand for “Better give up, because life is over.” As I got older I made sure I purchased all the right clothes, had all the right friends, and did all the things that made someone impeccable. And I drove myself crazy.

The thing about being a perfectionist is it keeps you from loving who you really are. Pyschology Today proclaims life for a perfectionist as, “an endless report card on accomplishments or looks.” When addicted to being flawless, life becomes a constant chase after something better. Better is never enough, so a vicious cycle begins. It starts as a deep desire to achieve, but then becomes more about avoiding failure than anything else. Creativity is halted, while productivity reaches a standstill.

Here’s my 12 Step Perfection Recovery Program:

  1. Acknowledge you have been under the influence of perfection for a really long time, and it is starting to or has already taken over your life
  2. Admit that you are afraid of making a mistake, not being good enough, or being a royal screw up — Relax, no one thinks that but you!
  3. Acknowledge you are perfect just as you are (this step may take awhile – no one said this would be easy).
  4. Believe you have complete power over your urge to be flawless. You must be truly bought into this before moving on.
  5. Decide if you want to be perfect or if you want to be happy.
  6. Inventory all the things you procrastinate or never finish because you’re too busy ironing out the kinks before putting it out there.
  7. Admit you are human. No human is without flaws. These are the things that make you uniquely amazing.
  8. Commit to being imperfect at least once today. Repeat daily.
  9. Challenge yourself: Turn in your first draft, put in only 75% effort, leave work a little early. This will feel very strange, maybe even foreign. Do it anyways, it does not mean you are lazy or uncommitted. This is counter-intuitive for you, but notice how your world doesn’t collapse.
  10. Check yourself: Notice when you’ve dropped back into Project I-Have-to-be-Perfect. Accept your mistakes or flaws as your biggest opportunity for learning.
  11. Figure out how you’re going to spend all the time you used to spend worrying, trying, and busying yourself in an attempt to find perfection.
  12. Enroll friends and family in your Already Perfect Anonymous Group. Encourage them to take imperfect action daily with you. Celebrate your freedom together!

How do you embrace your flaws and laugh at your mistakes? Share your perfection recovery stories below.

About the Author

Rebecca Niziol

Rebecca Niziol, ELI-MP, is many things: a life coach, yoga teacher, dancer, event planner, connection catalyst, and your new best friend. Her mission is to empower others to live the authentic life of their dreams. After years of traveling North America and Europe, she is happy to have found a home and community in Chicago.