All perfectionism is, is the 20-ton shield that we carry around hoping that it will keep us from being hurt.” Brene Brown
In this week’s More Mindfulness session, we examine the subject of mindfulness and perfectionism. We explore whether mindfulness can help us to recognise the moment perfectionism hits and why that’s a good thing. We look at whether our practice might have a role to play as it helps us to grow our self awareness and learn more about the ways of the mind.
Shame researcher and bestselling author Brene Brown describes perfectionism as the 20-ton shield we carry around hoping it will keep us from being hurt.” Brown breaks down what perfectionism really is. She explains that “It’s a way of thinking that says this: “If I look perfect, live perfect, work perfect, I can avoid or minimise criticism, blame and ridicule.” In truth however, she explains that the 20-ton shield keeps us from being seen.
Brown also says that there’s a difference between perfectionism and healthy striving. Healthy striving is internally focused – it’s all about wanting to do something and be the best you can. Perfectionism on the other hand is driven by the sense of “what will other people think?” Brown explains that you can’t really ever do anything brave if you’re wearing the straight jacket of ‘what will people think.’ Succinctly put, she says that “when perfectionism is driving, shame is always riding shotgun and fear is the annoying backseat driver.” We struggle with perfectionism in areas of our lives where we feel most vulnerable to shame.
So how can our mindfulness practice help? Mindfulness involves a willingness to be with ourselves as we are. It’s a way of learning to work WITH ourselves, not ON ourselves. We all know that giving ourselves a break is good for our well-being and on some level, many of us are healing from or dealing with the fallout from perfectionism. When we engage with our mindfulness practice, we begin to develop present moment awareness of the breath, thoughts, feelings, sensations and surroundings. We also start to notice whatever is happening within us and around us with curiosity and kindness. This can help us to let go of perfectionist tendencies when they threaten to highjack a situation or outcome.
This can help us to let go of perfectionist tendencies when they threaten to highjack a situation or outcome.
For those of you who would like to delve deeper, here is this week's selection of further reading links and recommendations:
Short Video Clip (4mins): Brene Brown in conversation with Oprah Winfrey: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o7yYFHyvweE
Article: Living with Your Imperfect Life by Mark Bertin: https://www.mindful.org/living-loving-imperfect-life/
Article: Why Your Out-Breath is Connected to Your Well-Being: https://www.mindful.org/why-your-breath-is-connected-to-your-well-being/
Guided Meditation: Following on from last week’s theme, listen to the explanatory talk and follow the 12-minute guided meditation: A Twelve-Minute Meditation to Welcome Everything by Frank Ostaseski: https://www.mindful.org/a-practice-to-welcome-everything/
You might also like to check out the Real Mindful podcast series and the 12-minute guided meditations on Mindful: https://www.mindful.org/real-mindful/ and https://www.mindful.org/12-minute-meditation/
This Week’s Poems
11 Unforgettable Truths 2020 Taught Me by Yung Pueblo
Grow without rushing
Accept help from others
Embrace the ups and downs
Letting go is a long term project
Take your time with big decisions
Throw away the idea of perfection
Gratitude supports a balanced mind
Double down on what you are good at
Stay connected to those who lift you up
Embracing flexibility helps you reach goals
Say no often, this is how you stay focused.
A second poem for good measure on showing up:
No one can show uo 100% of the time
next time you feel upset for temporarily not
being the best version of yourself, notice
the attachment you have to perfection
and remember that occasionally you need to slow down
And preserve your energy to fully restore your well-being.
See you next week…
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