deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are
powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens
us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing
small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so
that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as
children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light
shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are
liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
~ Marianne Williamson
Some people live
in bondage to what others think of them – getting easily hurt by another’s
words, habitually comparing themselves to other people, creating competition in
the most ordinary situations. This person has fallen prey to the approval
“Comparison is the thief of
~ Theodore Roosevelt
because of this need for approval, we can put on this façade, this mask – pretending
to be someone we are not.
We become good
at impression management. Impression management is when we try to steer others
opinions of us by pretending to be what others think will be acceptable.
The propensity to hide who we really are
and be something we are not is so alluring that psychologists occasionally
refer to this as the imposter phenomenon.
It’s this general sense that at some level I’m pretending; if others knew the
truth about me, the dance would be over. I would be finished.
So we spin the truth. Instead of living
our authentic selves, we become pros at impression management. We enter this
amateur-like life in the service of impressing others.
If we’re honest
with ourselves, at times, like other addicts, we will strive in unhealthy ways
to get a fix when we feel anxious or
desperate. Perhaps, like other addicts, we discover that no fix endures or
lasts forever. Yet, we find ourselves coming back for more. In this situation,
we are dealing with an approval monster.
At times, the
approval monster takes the shape of perfectionism. As the beloved sociologist
Brené Brown has shared, if perfectionism is driving you, then shame is riding
shotgun. Brené suggests that, “We struggle with perfectionism in areas where we
feel most vulnerable to shame.”
then, is a way of thinking that says that “If we look perfect, live perfectly,
work perfectly, and act perfectly, we can avoid or minimize criticism, blame,
judgment, shame, and ridicule.”
Here’s the deal. Perfectionism is
not about striving for excellence.
It’s not about growth, development, and achievement. Somewhere along the
way, we embraced this draining (false) belief system: I am what I accomplish and how well I accomplish it.
This reel goes on in our heads, at times, “Please. Perform. Perfectly.”
I like to call this perfectionism, The Trinity of False Identity:
I am what I do.
I am how well I do it.
I am how much I do.
Here’s what Brené
Brown suggests is the difference between Healthy Striving and Perfectionism:
“Healthy striving, meanwhile, focuses on you. It occurs when
you ask yourself, ‘How can I improve?’ Perfectionism keeps the focus on others.
It occurs when you ask, ‘What will they think?’ Research, unfortunately, shows
that perfectionism hampers success and often leads to depression, anxiety,
addiction and missed opportunities, due to fears of putting anything out in the
world that could be imperfect or disappoint others. It’s a 20-ton shield that
we lug around thinking it will protect us when, in fact, it’s the thing that’s
really preventing us from taking flight. Another way to think about it?
Consider Leonard Cohen’s song ‘Anthem,’ which says, ‘There’s a crack in
everything. That’s how the light gets in.'”