In this podcast, Kyla Shepherd and Geneva Robins share their favourite ways to deal with perfectionism. Being perfect is impossible and is often rooted in shame. Many of the tools we chat about are all ways to release that shame and counteract negative thinking.

What is Perfectionism?

In researching for this episode, we found quite a few pithy quotes and definitions for perfectionism. Perhaps the best and most direct comes straight from the dictionary:

“the setting of unrealistically demanding goals accompanied by a disposition to regard failure to achieve them as unacceptable and a sign of personal worthlessness” ~Merriam Webster Dictionary

Ooof! That hits home, doesn’t it? Perfectionism is a pattern of setting yourself up to fail and then beating yourself up when you inevitably fail. It gets you coming and going. It often gets in the way of true productivity and success and paralyzes forward movement. 

It’s very different from healthy striving toward mastery. As Brené Brown says, “Healthy striving is self-focused. Perfectionism is other-focused.” We get caught in the impossible task of pleasing others and endlessly trying to figure out what they want. It’s a way of trying to act our way into connection rather than just being who we are and finding true belonging.

Tools to Release Perfectionism

There are many, but here are some of our go-to emotional and energetic tools to help untangle the perfectionistic impulse.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Reframing Perfectionistic Thoughts

Cognitive behavioural therapy is a tool that helps you reframe thoughts, identify thinking errors and look for the positive intent hidden within the negative thought. It’s quite powerful and can help to understand the motivation behind the perfectionistic thinking. You can get help from a therapist, or you can try out a therapy app like Wysa

Get support from a Loved One

People who love us unconditionally are amazing to reach out to anytime, but especially when we’re in the grips of perfectionism. Their kind and accepting energy can soothe the mental strain of trying to get it all right, perfectly every time. Listen to them! Your value is not tied to what you do, it is connected to your being, which never needs to change to be worthy of love and belonging.

Reiki and the Reiki Ideals

Of course, we like Reiki for most things here! It can help bring a gentle energy to the serious and harsh mode of thinking that perfectionism can cause. You can set your intention in a Reiki session to focus on gentleness, kindness, and radical acceptance. Then you can simply rest in that healing vibe.

One of the Reiki ideals is to be kind to yourself and all living things. This is a primary tool for releasing perfectionism. Offering yourself kindness, compassion, and gentleness is the antidote.

The Reiki ideals are these five simple but challenging concepts: just for today, I will let go of anger; I will let go of worry; I will be grateful for my many blessings; I will do my work honestly; and I will be kind to myself and every living thing. 

All of the Reiki ideals can pop up when we’re dealing with something like perfectionism. There are many great tools in “The Secret Art of Happiness” that can help alleviate the energy that lies underneath perfectionism. The Affirmation Ladders for the Reiki Ideals are especially helpful to help shift harsh modes of thinking and gradually help you shift into a positive and relaxed mindset. 

Get a free eBook of the Affirmation Ladders for the Reiki Ideals.

Gratitude helps soothe Perfectionism

Whatever it is your shame gremlins or little perfectionist monsters are telling you about what you’re doing, could you maybe find a teensy little aspect of it to be grateful for? You showed up? You’re trying? That’s amazing. And especially when there are harsh voices like that chirping at you, that is such a big thing in and of itself. Trying to reframe it with gratitude can soothe everything.

Don’t fight with Shame. Just be kind.

There’s a temptation to fight with perfectionistic shame. But that just begets more of that energy. So go back to gentleness, and even gratitude for the inner critic voice. Because it’s really just trying to keep you safe. It’s just trying to help you be connected and loved. It is going about it all the wrong way. But it has developed for a reason, because of something that you learned or something that occurred in the past. It is just maladaptive now. Take a step back and see what it is trying to accomplish. Then you can soften around the whole process. Entertain the thought, “Maybe it’s true that I will still be worthy of love, even if this isn’t perfect.”

What if our imperfections are actually what makes us Real?

There can be such a drive towards correcting every single flaw in ourselves and our work that we can sometimes miss the beauty of our imperfections. In nature, the imperfect parts of a landscape are what makes it look real and genuine. When you look at a tree, a real tree in the forest. It’s not symmetrical. The branches are not evenly spaced. There’s live ones, there’s dead ones, there’s one going off and weird angles. But when you look at the whole of it, it’s all beautiful.

And if we look at ourselves with that same kind view, maybe all of the things that maybe make us different or might be perceived as flaws or difficulties, what if they are actually what contribute to our beauty and our uniqueness in the world and make us exactly who we are.

Even the Earth itself is not perfect, it wobbles. It’s not a perfect sphere. And yet, it’s pretty good as planets go. Maybe give yourself that same grace, love, and acceptance. It’s okay to not be perfect. It’s wonderful to be uniquely you!




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