Perfectionism can be an asset as we strive for continuous improvement.  When perfectionism drives our entire way of relating to what we want to create, we may become a victim to our strong need to be perfect.

If the need to be perfect feels more like a compulsive and chronic need to hide any flaws, then perfectionism has become more of a safeguard from getting hurt than a motivator to self-improvement.  Perfectionists would rather focus on how they look to others than on a genuine desire to grow and develop.  When this occurs, the internal Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT)™ is activated and we become a victim to our own beliefs about ourselves.

The dance of the internal DDT might go something like this:  “I am a victim to what others think.  Therefore I will strive to look good almost at all costs.  Praise I receive from others by doing a great job will rescue me from feeling ‘not enough.’  Always striving and performing, eventually I persecute myself for not achieving enough or getting enough external accolades.”

Being a perfectionist is a common trait for many people, especially in the Western culture because we are driven to achieve and receive praise from others. On one hand perfectionism pushes us to excel, but the downside to perfectionism is fear that we won’t succeed or be “enough.”

We have struggled with our own perfectionism and need to “look good.”   We asked ourselves, “What do we really want?” in order to shift from a Victim to Creator Orientation.  Our answer is:  “We choose to continuously grow and learn, rather than focus on what others think.”

With continuous learning as our desired outcome, we developed a mantra to help us let go of the perfectionist drama.  We call it GEFN—Good Enough For Now.  We often title a first draft of an article or presentation and call it our “GEFN” draft.  Saying it is “good enough for now” gives us room to breathe and reduces our anxiety of failure.  We have found this step actually increases our creativity and learning.

Moving beyond the drama of perfectionism is not an easy road.   However, it is well worth the effort to stop the personal victimization that perfectionism creates and move into a more empowering relationship with yourself.  To learn more, we highly recommend Dr. Brene Brown’s book The Gifts of Imperfection.