What you need to know about perfectionism

woman struggling with perfectionism
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Calling anyone plagued by perfectionism.

How it shows up varies. Maybe you

  • Try to fix everything.
  • Want everything to be perfect.
  • Spend hours putting everything in order.
  • Feel anxious or guilty about making a mistake.
  • Read something over and over before hitting send.
  • Get lost in the details and lose sight of the big-picture.
  • Have high, impossible-to-reach standards for yourself or others.

Diligence in the form of care is great. It’s good to be conscientious and ensure accuracy.

But when meticulousness looks like hours lost in editing-mode to prevent a single mistake, out of anxiety to be seen for being imperfect… something there might welcome kindness.


Imagine a monkey running around in your brain. It speeds towards an idealistic outcome you “must” achieve. Races to reach standards for perfection.

The monkey frantically pushes levers for hyper-focus, constant improvement, and judgement as protection from external criticism.

It’s exhausting. With your energy tied up in your busy head, there’s no space to feel joy.

The thing is, the monkey is trying to help. It’s protecting you from how others will perceive a mistake. It might want you to have a positive reputation so you don’t feel the pain of other’s disapproval or the shame of lack. Possible worst-case, it’s saving you from being rejected and abandoned.

So it finds mistakes. Focuses on these mistakes. Even when this is one typo in a 50 page document. Regardless of the entire document’s quality, you’re fixated on that one typo. So not fun.


A mentor reminded me this week:
Failure is how we do anything.
Failure is the only way we get anywhere.
Failure is not proof of lack of ability, knowledge, or expertise.
Failure is simply how we learn.


I’m curious what perfectionism means to you. Your comfort level with being a stone’s throw from an ideal vision. The standards you hold for yourself, consciously and unconsciously. The worst case scenario of making a mistake you’ve learned, lived, or fear.

During Writing Journeys’ monthly meeting this Thursday evening (7-8:30 PM PDT) 4/7, we will explore how perfectionism may be impacting you (whether it’s mild or keeps you from your desires). We’ll shine a light into the layers so you can see it in a new way and soothe it.

We’ll also call the monkey down from the intellect… to be soothed in safety, loved in imperfection, with permission to see beyond what it “needs to do.” So you can experience the beauty of life, as well as the growth from the inevitable times you fall short of perfection. And free yourself up to hit send on your writing and share your gifts.

Hope to see you at this event. Please share with anyone you know who might benefit!

If any thoughts arise out of reading this, I’d love to hear them. Comment and let me know. 🙂

Registration link.
$10-$30 suggested donation through PayPal.
If you aren’t on Meetup but would like to attend, please send me a message.

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