I once heard Brene Brown say, “when perfectionism is driving, shame is riding shotgun”. I nearly lost my breath as I struggled to wrap my head around this concept. I had always bragged about being a perfectionist, wore that title like a proud medal for the world to see. Once I let the words sit with me for a moment, an epiphany came, and I finally understood how the shield that once protected me was suddenly holding me back. The perfect layers that I built around myself were not something to boast about; they were keeping me from being seen, from showing up as the authentic me. They clothed me so tightly; I started wondering who I even was myself.
Thinking about how this had ruled my life, I studied my past. I worked hard to be the best mom, daughter, athlete, and employee. My kids didn’t want for anything. We were constantly on a new adventure, and it all looked so perfect to the outside world. We posted our excursions and accomplishments on social media, and I cherished the accolades that came back verifying that I was, indeed, “the best mom.” What people didn’t see was a scared single mother who worried that she would wake up one day and have no place to live. I constantly said “yes” to my parents’ needs and worked hard to provide them with all the extra perks I could offer. I was a people-pleaser, and I didn’t know how to say “no” even when I gave at the expense of my own security. In my spare time, I trained for races, working my way up to a full marathon, and then I got involved in triathlons. I never raced for pleasure; I always showed up to compete. If I studied the stats of previous races and didn’t think I could measure up to the top tier, I refused to race. If I couldn’t return with some pretty perfect race results, why bother? In each career, I rose to the top and quickly became a leader and expert among my peers. I earned accolades from the outside world, and this caused me to chase praise like a drug. But, deep down, I had a dirty little secret. Inside I was feeling like I wasn’t enough. I relied on these external affirmations because I couldn’t be my own champion. I was too busy trying to be perfect to recognize I had a lot of pain I hadn’t worked through. With all these accomplishments and praise, I was even starting to fool myself.
And then I discovered the world of coaching, and I was forced to get real with my demons. I was pushed to take a close look at why I needed to appear so perfect to the world. The perfectionism was a shield to hide the shame, the shame of who I really was, a scared girl who had never addressed the gremlins from childhood, the voices that screamed “you’re not enough” or “your voice doesn’t matter.” With those thoughts at the forefront, I let people take advantage of me. I didn’t put myself first, and I certainly wasn’t my best advocate. I morphed into who I needed to be at any given moment and played the part perfectly.
I was never myself authentically until now. Now I can clearly see the cost I was paying to live up to this unrealistic image. When I finally allowed myself to step into vulnerability, try it on for size, and release the shame I had kept hidden from the world, a new me emerged. She was a lot lighter, happier, and she finally understood what it meant to live in the present moment. Instead of making me feel “less than” my truth set me free. It empowered me to live the life that was always meant for me. Now I show up without fear because shame isn’t holding me back; perfectionism is no longer the driver, and I am just being me.
It’s easy to fall victim to the shame-game. We think we are protecting ourselves by showing up perfectly, never cutting ourselves some slack, getting in our heads when we have a slip-up, but the truth is that the people who matter can see right through our façade. And let’s be honest, the energy it takes to be perfect is exhausting. As perfectionists, we are striving for something that doesn’t even exist. Imagine a world where we all show up as our true selves, and we attract the people who speak more authentically to our souls. If we felt these deeper connections, we would never want to be anyone but us, scars and all. The key is to dig deep and recognize where the wounds cut the deepest. Once we can work through our pain, we will no longer allow it to dictate our lives. We will no longer aim to achieve perfectionism because we know that being raw and vulnerable is the key to having beautiful purposeful relationships.
For more information on empowerment coaching, contact me below. Let’s schedule a free discovery call and start living the life we were meant to live.
About The Author
As a certified core energy and self-love coach, Holly works with individuals to discover who they are at their core. She builds upon self-love, self-trust, and self-care rituals. By exploring the seven levels of energy and how they impact daily decision-making clients can make alternative choices that promote well-being. Get to know her and explore your options for working with Holly here.