Here’s a provocative quote from Dr. David M. Burns, author of Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy: “Remember that fear always lurks behind perfectionism. Confronting your fears and allowing yourself the right to be human can, paradoxically, make you a far happier and more productive person.”
What an interesting perspective. So, peering behind perfectionism, we find fear. Fear of what? Fear of being imperfect? Sounds pretty inhuman!
We do have the right to be human, which includes being proudly imperfect. Obviously, this realization will contribute to increasing happiness because it’s relaxing! We can relax from trying to be perfect and just enjoy ourselves, and whatever we do, without all that exhausting judgment.
Expanding this understanding, his recommendation to confront our fears begins to feel like an interesting challenge, rather than a dreadful duty. Why not? It’s heroic. With that filter gone, relaxing into our humanness, it becomes something of a game that might go like this:
I notice a moment of perfectionistic obsession. I pause, step back, and realize fear is in the house. I face it. I release judgment, relax into a process of self-inquiry. What’s the fear about? Now, what happens as I become increasingly aware of it? The burden of self-judgment begins to lighten. “Oh, so I’m an imperfect human… and that’s OK!”
What’s really happening here is using a simple process to become more authentic and – here’s the pay off – happier.