Death of the Perfectionist

The perfectionist said, ‘It’s okay.’ It didn’t  have to say more. Okay didn’t equal perfect and everywhere I looked the ideal loomed. I didn’t compete with others. In fact I disliked competition. But I held a different set of standards for myself. Personal choice, I figured.


The inner critic and the perfectionist operated in tandem in my inner world. They were slick operators with an honourable agenda. They wanted to save me. Save me from failure, from humiliation from danger … They had an exhaustive list and being part of my psyche, they knew me well enough to gain credibility.

It was hard to counter their well constructed argument. And who wants to be seen to fail? The perfectionist aspect of me struggled with this fear. Aiming at the unattainable high was a trap, a massive time waster.  How different is 98% to 100% anyway? Did it matter?

Perfection was based on fear. The thought of failing so horrific that I contorted and twisted myself into a tangled ball to avoid it. Like a virus it infected anything I valued:

  • appearance
  • relationships
  • home
  • garden
  • academic achievement
  • professional life
  • writing …

I’m sure you have your own personal list. Any area in your life prefixed by ‘should,’ is worthy of a closer look. I had lots of those based on the faulty belief that I should be good. Good, left me conflicted. What if good for me differed for good for someone else? What of good lead to resentment? Was it really good? I lost myself trying to please other significant people in my life. I harmed myself by doing that. And I ran out of steam. Something had to go.

Letting go of the perfectionist, death, left a gap. This space, vulnerability, was very confronting. I stood at the doorway of opportunity, having admitted to myself that my thinking was skewed, owning it. It was an ordinary moment. I hated making mistakes. And there it was a gain the voice of the perfectionist! Vulnerability is that slippery space where the world seems unpredictable. Unsafe.

Did the perfectionist need to die? I found comfort in that anal devil. A bad association seemed better than being alone and unsupported. Vulnerability a bugle call rang out. And who’d rock up? The perfectionist. At this point, I struggled. The invisible inner battle was hugely damaging. Fragmentation has been the most unloving thing that I’ve ever done to myself.

After years of mantras and affirmations, of focusing on the glass half full, I made space for the perfectionist but limited its influence in my thinking. Self awareness is an ongoing process and one I would never have undergone, if I hadn’t fallen into the bad company of the perfectionist. Recovery from anorexia for me was a path back to myself.

Kindly leave your thoughts. I’d love some comments.


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