What’s Behind Perfectionism?
It is very common these days to see articles written on how perfectionism is bad and holds you back from becoming your greatest self. Why it’s due to the fear of being judged rising up to stop you!
I’m known to be a perfectionist. Everything I do has to look right, sound right, and of course be right and that kind of mindset has indeed held me back in many respects.
I mean who wants to be judged or seen as wrong?
So it made perfect sense to me that I’d want to “grieve correctly”
With Loss Comes Grief
When my dad died, I for the first time experienced the heart wrenching, emotional turmoil, and chaos that grieving a loss will bring to your life. I needed to know how to grieve. No one had taught me. However, I didn’t have the language to ask for what I wanted to know.
Truthfully I needed to know that I wouldn’t feel this way forever, so what could I do in the meantime? The kindly psychologist I consulted with shared a few things:
- Everyone’s grief is unique
- You never get over your grief
- It will take as long as it takes
My perfectionist brain couldn’t handle that information
Ok, granted I get it everyone’s grief has to be unique to them – tick
You never get over your grief” that I couldn’t believe was right! I’d feel this way forever?
Being told that it will take as long as it takes certainly wasn’t the answer I was looking for either.
Off I went on my own journey of discovery to find my own answers. If it hadn’t been for my desire to do “grief” correctly, I may never have had the adventures I had as I discovered my own way to heal and my way out of grief.
The 3 P’s
Not long into my search, I discovered the 3 P’s, (personalization, permanent, pervasive) by Martin Seligman, a renowned psychologist and this helped me begin to unpack my grief. Positive psychology and learning resilience are the tools Dr. Seligman is teaching about.
When we personalize the loss, we take on the belief that we are to blame and are somehow at fault. Pervasive is the belief that our grief will effect and spill over into every area of our lives. Permanent is the fear that how we are feeling in the moment will continue and we will always feel this way.
Sheryl Sandberg (COO Facebook) would go on to use the 3 P’s in her own healing journey after the death of her husband. She later gave a commencement speech to graduating students on how they could use them to navigate their own challenges.
My perfectionism was actually a good thing because it led me on an amazing journey. Six years later, I feel comfortable talking not only about my own journey into and out of grief but now I’m helping others become comfortable with their own grief.
So as a recovering perfectionist, I can say – it isn’t always a bad thing just don’t allow it to paralyze you but use it for good!