In my last counseling session, my counselor told me, “You’re not really afraid of not being perfect. You’re afraid of shame.” Then she recommended “The Gifts of Imperfection” by Brené Brown and told me if I journaled through that book slowly, soaking in its wise words, I could save myself lots of money on counseling.
So I grabbed the book and settled in. Yes. Brené Brown digs so deep into the issues underlying our need to please people, be perfect and perform. She talks about the cycle of our need for belonging that can lead us into the fear of shame and being left out and how that drives us to seek perfection to protect ourselves.
“Perfectionism is addictive because when we invariably do experience shame, judgement, and blame, we often believe it’s because we weren’t perfect enough. So rather than questioning the faulty logic of perfectionism, we become ever more entrenched in our quest to live, look, and do everything just right.”
I know that I personally resonate with this exact thought. I realized this summer that I have always believed that by being as perfect as possible, I could prevent pain in my life and others’ lives. So when I wasn’t able to prevent that pain I felt shame and beat myself up about my failure.
I’m learning to sort out the truth from the “faulty logic” I’ve believed most of my life.
She closes her book with these words:
“Wholehearted living is…going to bed at night thinking, ‘Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.’”
Brené is a qualified researcher, author and speaker who has many years of experience fighting the battles she writes about. You can also find many videos of her teaching on YouTube and various other books she’s written about vulnerable struggles we face.