Sometimes I wonder: is anxiety the cause of perfectionism, or vice versa? However we slice the apple, perfectionism is loud and mean. And contributes to our unhappiness and anxiety.
As I teach more about perfectionism and peel back more of my layers or patterns in my own life, I do notice it there, still.
My first real awareness was when I had my first son, and I had such severe anxiety that I was not able to sleep or eat and wisely called my therapist, got on medication, and leaned on those around me for support. That level of anxiety was like no other I had ever experienced. And after that I was no longer in denial that I had anxiety.
I had wanted to be a mom SO BAD that when I didn’t get pregnant right away, something shifted. Enough for me to seek counseling. I knew the signs because of being a therapist, but I probably waited too long before making the call. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to see that my anxiety had been brewing for a while.
And, as I leaned into that, it started to decrease, peel away like old paint, and I realized we are not built for, nor MEANT for chronic anxiety. Period. And, my perfectionism, or denial thereof, was not helping me.
One of the majors ways to predict chronic anxiety is perfectionism. It is rigid, unrealistic, and painful. It keeps our brains occupied on stuff that takes us away from our joy and our calling.
I have been free from that level of anxiety and perfectionism for almost a decade now. I have the tendencies, so of course it flares up or I am triggered. But, thanks be to God, I am self-aware enough to deal with it. And for me, sometimes it is having a come to Jesus talk with myself, crying alone or to my husband at night, and feeling angry for what I feel like was a big mistake.
Ironically, that was about the time I shifted my practice to specializing in women with anxiety.
Perfectionism is real – I think all of us have it within us. Of course we do, we want to get it right, avoid pain, or have that “perfect” relationship (to name a few). The thing is- perfectionism will take us farther away from ourselves the more we deny it or ignore it.
Which direction do you want to go?
My takeaway is, awareness leads to freedom. Pausing to listen and getting curious will unlock that door to awareness. Which leads us to facing our perfectionism and letting it go.
What is your takeaway?