Perfectionism is rooted in shame. This negative defense mechanism is externally driven, with a huge emphasis on “what people think of you”, versus “staying true to yourself”, ignoring the opinions of others. Shame (I am a mistake and).
According to Brene Brown shame grows through silence, isolation and judgement. Because it involves these three “separating factors,” shame prevents us from healing. Guilt, on the other hand, is motivating because it only focuses a mistake we made. It is an adaptive emotion in which we compare something we did, or we failed to do, against an ideal that we would like to achieve. Healthy experiences of guilt act as a spiritual check and balance system. When our behavior is incompatible with how we want to act, we experience guilt as an opportunity for spiritual growth and change. (Brene Brown)
Guilt comes down to this: “I made a mistake and I am still worthy of love and belonging!” It is not so with shame and perfectionism. Perfectionism is never self-improvement. Perfectionism is, at its core, a game of competing to win approval. Most perfectionists grew up being praised for achievement and performance (grades, manners, rule-following, people-pleasing, and outward appearance.” (Brene Brown)
In the process of becoming shame resilient, the individuals who successfully work through their shame share common traits. They identify their shame triggers, they do a reality inventory, and they speak to a trusted person. Effective ways to talk about shame are to talk to yourself like you would talk to someone you love, minus harsh words or derogatory thinking. Also, it is essential to talk to someone you trust by opening yourself up to their empathy. You can then tell your story to others which helps them and you as well.
Self-compassion is essential in the healing process of working through shame. It is important to find people who are great models of compassion, yet who are not enablers (who only want to control us with an appearance of sympathy.) Such people would be able to acknowledge that you are suffering without “pitying” you. They are kind and understanding, yet do not try to take over your life. They do not shame or act judgmental of you, making you feel like an inferior being. They recognize that suffering is part of the human experience. (Dr. Kristen Neff)The full circle is being that safe person means that you are trustworthy and that you can offer empathy, without trying to run people’s lives. You use perspective take when expressing empathy. You withhold judgement on the one speaking. You recognize what their emotions are and help them to do so. You communicate those emotions to them. You also are a sounding board for their solutions to their problems. By doing this, you have come full circle in your role as the model of compassion and genuine assistance to the one who is opening up to you.
Working through Perfectionism In Houston, The Woodlands and Spring- Cypress Texas