the art of imperfection… destination excellence!

  • Are you a perfectionist?
  • Do you know when your expectations are unrealistic and damaging to your success?
  • Are your relationships suffering from the burden of perfection?
  • Do you feel plagued by a sense of frustration and/or failure?

The perfectionist pattern is the hidden enemy of true success and happiness…

Often people don’t realise the pattern is alive and well in their lives and so it chips away at our peace of mind, self esteem and relationships. A focus on ‘getting it right’ become a recipe for getting it wrong when it damages your wellbeing, self worth, relationships and/or business success.

As a practitioner I have seen many examples of the ‘fallout’ of perfectionism including:

  • Distorted perceptions of what is acceptable performance
  • Low self esteem, poor body image and eating disorders
  • Martyrdom and self denial
  • Being ‘externally referenced’ – looking constantly for external validation through achievements, status or approval, depression and anxiety
  • Chronic stress, depression and anxiety
  • Extreme intolerance of errors – devastation/defensiveness when perceived as getting it wrong
  • Time poor and a  refusal to delegate
  • Lack of enjoyment or appreciation of ‘wins’ – over focus on what didn’t get achieved
  • Chronic fatigue, migraines, insomnia
  • Inability to operate in the present moment and plagued by ‘what if’ scenarios
  • ‘All or nothing’ approach to life
  • Lack of commercial success or it coming at a great cost
  • Unhappy personal and professional relationships because of of harsh criticism, and/or a need to be in control.

Does any of this sound familiar?

Interestingly perfectionism is one of the most toxic and entrenched patterns facing people today. One of the reasons it is so difficult for us to alter, is because we usually look outside of ourselves for the solution. Because we cannot control the world and those in it, we ultimately set ourselves up for disappointment, frustration and feelings of failure. What’s important to remember is that, with professional help, perfectionism is a pattern of behaviours, perceptions and choices that can be changed!

The challenge is to come back to our Selves, heal the root causes of the pattern and recover trust in ourselves and in the world. Perfectionists have usually been hurt, or deeply disappointed, by life on some level. The key is to find our own self-defined path of excellence, as opposed to perfection.

To put it bluntly it also requires us to stop worrying about what others are not getting right and to focus on cleaning up our own ‘backyard’! When in ‘perfectionist mode’ we are great at making others responsible for our unhappiness and in doing so often overlook our own very significant contribution to the problem or issue at hand. ‘Who me?’ we say incredulously.

Phil’s* perfectionist tendencies were resulting in a ‘grass is greener’ attitude which was promoting constant dissatisfaction with his marriage and work. Addressing what was ultimately dissatisfaction with himself led him to realise he is exactly where he is meant to be and now happier than he’s ever been.

Kim’s* perfectionism was creating a martyrdom pattern that had alienated her from her children and husband as she sought constant approval and appreciation for ‘all she was doing for them’. Honouring her true needs, particularly her creative interests, and addressing the need for constant external approval, liberated her self and her family.

Nicola* suffered depression and literally burnt out her immune system striving for perfection. Her impossible ideals and unrealistic expectations of her self and others was creating levels of internal stress and disharmony that were taking her further away from her goals not closer. Discovering self-acceptance, resolving some old hurts, and recognising her ideals were there only to inspire and guide, gave Nicola the life she yearned for.

Having witnessed, over the past 21 years how inner change has resulted in positive changes occurring in all aspects of clients’ lives, I am convinced self development is the key to fulfilling success. Being happier and more compassionate with your Self leads you to be more so with others. If you suspect your life is being harmed by perfectionism, consider skilled professional assistance  – it can make all the difference.

Embracing imperfection is the path to greater awareness, wisdom, compassion and ultimately happiness. And it provides the foundation for a life of excellence in our choices, actions and results.  As Artists Robert Bissett and Nikki Giovanni say ‘A painting is a series of mistakes and it is the response to the error that counts.’

* client names have been changed to protect privacy

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medical assistant
July 17th, 2010 at 12:06 am

I’ve recently started a blog, the information you provide on this site has helped me tremendously. Thank you for all of your time & work.


Great blog! much appreciated.

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