My Perfectionism was Born in 1982
Does it ever feel like a pressure cooker inside your
head because you over-analyze every choice you
make to such an extent it’s exhausting?
Your decision needs to be THE RIGHT ONE, after all…
When I was in 8th grade, my dad challenged me to
make straight A’s (not one A-) and he’d give me $500.
No doubt he thought he was motivating me to be my best.
I accepted the challenge and performed. I got the prize.
But at what cost? What did my 13 year old mind make this
It meant I needed to perform to get my dad’s love and
approval. Perfectionism was born in me in 1982. I was hooked!
I Was Smart. So What Was Wrong With Me?
I was hooked on the thrill of achieving, of the challenge, of the attention.
I was so ambitious that I graduated high school at 16 years
old. I started college that summer and majored in accounting
because numbers felt safe, predictable.
I graduated college, passed my CPA exam on the first try
(this was a VERY tough exam and I felt proud of myself) and went
into public accounting.
I joined a CPA firm who believed in the “sink or swim” mentality.
I sunk and was fired after my second tax season. I found another
CPA firm and the same thing happened. Yep. I got fired after
I knew I was smart. So what was wrong? Why did I feel so
insecure in myself? Why did I feel not good enough? I compared
myself to others who didn’t have my grades or credentials, but
they were more confident and excelled faster in the world of
Third Time’s a Charm
On my third job search, I interviewed at another CPA firm, but
boy I didn’t want to! I wasn’t having any luck getting hired by industry
accounting companies, and so it was back to the CPA firm route. I
went into the interview with zero desire to get the job.
I wore a cute brown hat to show my rebellion. I also interviewed
them more selectively this time, because I really wanted a
culture that would support mentoring and investing in their people.
And of course, what do you know, I got the job! This time felt different,
and I was, daresay, even a little excited about the opportunity. I
excelled in this environment and even got promoted. I was there for
3 years until I was hired by a client to be their controller.
Perfectionism is an Explosion of Fury Waiting to Happen
So what happened? I grew up with a deep insecurity that I wasn’t
good enough. I felt unlovable because my dad didn’t notice me. So
I tried to prove my worth through accomplishment. And if I wasn’t
producing, I felt inadequate.
Can you relate to any of this? When we put so much pressure on
our self to be perfect and appear perfect, it’s an explosion of fury
waiting to happen.
Nowadays I mostly avoid the perfection game. It just isn’t worth
it. I no longer need to prove I’m worthy to my dad, to my version
of God, or to anyone else. I AM ENOUGH just as I am. And this
feels good. It feels freeing.
Perfection Turns Your Life Into Endless Report Card
To quote Psychology Today: “Perfectionism turns your life into an
endless report card on accomplishments or looks. It is a fast and
enduring track to unhappiness.
What makes perfectionism so toxic is that while those in its grip
desire success, they are most focused on avoiding failure, so theirs
is a negative orientation.”
Perfection and People Pleasing are Conjoined Twins
How does perfectionism relate to people pleasing? They are like
conjoined twins. Where you find one, you’ll find the other. Both
keep us boxed into a construct that smothers and controls us.
And no where is people pleasing more prevalent than in our
romantic relationships. Join Morgan Higdon and I on Wed,
10/16/19 at 3pm central for a deeper dive into this topic.
Register here to learn how to stop people pleasing in your
romantic life and live and love fully instead. Develop the connection
you really desire that will sustain your relationship long into the