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Let me answer your question…

At an event that I was speaking at last month, a woman came up to me after my presentation and asked if I was a perfectionist in a lot of areas or just a few. I laughed and said as many areas as you can imagine. I explained to her that while I call myself a “recovering perfectionist” I do not consider myself “recovered.” My journey is ongoing. Perfectionism still flares up. My awareness is much greater and I have significantly more tools to deal with it now that I used to, but I still have times where I struggle. Having had some time to think about this question, I wanted to go a little deeper.

Perfectionism is not contained to specific arenas of life. It is a ways of thinking and behaving that shows up when triggered by shame.

Perfectionism is about our behaviors, and the underlying emotion to perfectionism is shame. While we can do a lot to built up resilience around shame, we cannot avoid experiencing shame. It is after all a core human emotion. Shame resiliency allows us to travel through the experience of shame and come out stronger. Perfectionist behaviors are a maladaptive coping strategy to deal with shame. I believe perfectionism is addictive. It falls into the category of process addictions. Rather than being addicted to a substance people can become addicted to mental processes.

My “perfectionist thinking” can play into any number of situations: work, relationships, my art, hosting dinner parties, my physical appearance, school, dating. Perfectionist thoughts and behaviors can show up in any area of life just like shame can show up anywhere. Perfectionism is not contained to specific arenas of life. It is a ways of thinking and behaving that shows up when triggered by shame.

What questions do you have about perfectionism, shame, relationships? Send me an e-mail with your question to see if highlighted on the blog! Send your questions HERE.

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