#5: Perfectionism is Self-Abuse
About this Manifesto
Perfectionism is self-abuse when perfectionism goes beyond just an ideal and becomes dogma leading to negative self-talk and expectations.
Self-abuse can grow when we are trapped in unhealthy pursuits of perfection.
(And no, not that kind of self-abuse…)
Failing to meet our (often inherited) expectations of perfection, our mean brain voice gets a loud speaker to blast us with its shame squad of taunts and name calling. If we get stuck in this addiction to perfection, our self-abuse is reinforced and grows.
This pattern of self-abuse can come from many sources: caregivers, siblings, partners, school, work, or culture. Many times it is picked up unconsciously at a young age only to live front-and-center in our consciousness 24/7/365.
Thoughts like—I’m always a fuck up. I can never get anything right. I suck at everything—are triggered by our slightest flaws, mistakes, or trip ups. This negative loop begins to sabotage our ability to finish things let alone start them.
When allowed to live unchallenged or without conscious reframes or rephrases, we embed the toxic thorns of self-abuse deeper and deeper into our psyche and belief system. This self-poisoning and harm can cause damage to our health, happiness, and potential.
How Perfectionism Leads to Self-Abuse
Perfectionism leads to self-abuse when we believe that perfectionism is something we can actually reach or achieve.
Since we’ll never obtain a perfect state in anything we set ourselves up for failure when we hold tightly to the belief that perfection is attainable.
If we are not careful and allow our mean brains to abuse us, we will adopt a self-perpetuating outlook and attitude that we are failures or are doomed to fail.
Perfectionism usually makes ourselves the scapegoat, and we center ourselves as the primary reason for failing to live up to our perfect expectations. We repeat unhelpful or even hurtful words absorbed by others in our younger years and stay stuck in a cycle of, “this is just the way it is.”
Self-abuse can also move beyond thoughts and negative self-talk by taking a physical form with body modifications, alterations and adjustments to pursue an ideal or perfect state of appearance (breast implants, plastic surgery, and other surgical “enhancements” are great examples of this).
Self-abuse perpetuates the lie that we aren’t worthy of love, kindness and respect.
To counter self-abuse and the unhealthy pursuit of perfection we must embrace our flaws and imperfections.
There are many paths to releasing ourselves from perfectionism and self-abuse. Three that are helpful for me are: embracing grace, letting in forgiveness, and reclaiming self-respect.
Embracing grace means we are courteous to ourselves and give ourselves room to learn, to make mistakes, to fork up. We enter a state of flow and fluidity that helps open our perspectives beyond depressing and disheartening focus and labeling of our attempts or experiences as “failure.”
Letting in forgiveness means we allow ourselves to be wrong, to try and not succeed, and to do those things without shame, ridicule and attacks. We release from the pressures of time or expectation and trust that this is where we need to be and only through practice do we improve.
Reclaiming self-respect means dropping any negative talk about ourselves, our habits, our actions (or inactions), and outcomes. We build the muscles of respect and kindness, and we honor the power of our thoughts and words. We see and feel ourselves as worthy, as capable, and living our unique story and no others’.
Embracing these three things will help dissolve and diffuse the energy draining torment of self-abuse. It is not something that happens immediately or overnight because those grooves are like sledding tracks in thick snow that are rutted and easily pull you back into them. We must consciously work towards making new tracks in the snows of our minds. Picking back up our focus and thought and placing it where we know it will be of better service.
We must see unchecked perfectionism and self-abuse for what they are: unkind, unhealthy, and non-beneficial.
We will all fare far better by kindly and respectfully encouraging ourselves, appreciating all the small steps and wins towards our vision (because everything is built of small things anyway), and mixing in humility and humor.
May your self-abuse turn into self-care because you are needed and you matter.
Who Is Writing This?
Hey, I'm Tigre Pickett and I'm a recovering perfectionist.
I bought this domain in 2014 and sat on it for seven years before finally taking my own imperfect action and dove into sharing my experiences with perfection. How on brand!
It's my goal to provide others inspiration, guidance and support around befriending perfection by giving it other, more kind and accurate clothes and identities to wear.
I've sold myself short a lot in my life due to perfection's grip. May this website and my work provide you some glorious relief to just be with the messy, flawed, and totally lovable and worthy human you are.