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What I Understand Perfectionism To Be

It now makes my skin crawl when I’m watching a TV show & someone either calls themselves (or another person) a perfectionist, especially if they’re using in a sort of jokey, sort of self-deprecating way. ⁣

Perfectionism is something that individual humans experience & live out in their daily lives, for sure.⁣

But what’s been eye-opening for me, is recognizing where it came from in the first place.⁣

It comes from oppression. It comes from manipulation. It comes from white supremacy.⁣

To think about how normal it’s become for humans to see themselves as consistently not good enough, & constantly doing & thinking things to try to get closer to whatever the new standard is for “perfect” or “ideal” makes my heart hurt. ⁣

The goal post always gets moved. There’s always something *more* we could be doing with our time, bodies, mind, sleep, food, exercise, relationships, hobbies, jobs, kids, pets, homes, cars, clothes, lives to make us “better” people. ⁣

Better for whom?⁣

Better for what?⁣

What is “better”?⁣

I do not define perfectionism as some quirky, individual personality trait, or the fake "weakness" people give on job interviews trying to impress their future boss.

Perfectionism should be looked at as “the antithesis to humanity.” —Monique Melton@moemotivate

I understand perfectionism to be one of the tools of white supremacy and capitalism. It has been used for centuries to oppress humans, promote hyper-individualism, and manipulate our sense of self.

It cuts us off from our humanity, which benefits the harmful systems that run our economies, governments, schools, workforces, and more. Many of our trauma responses are linked to lessons we learned from perfectionism.

I did not come to this conclusion on my own.

Some humans doing very important work around unpacking the deep harm of perfectionism that I highly recommend you check out are:

  • Monique Melton @moemotivate on Instagram (click here to purchase her Perfectionism and White Supremacy workshop replay)

  • Tricia Hersey, founder of The Nap Ministry

  • Dr. Danica Harris @theempoweredtherapist on Instagram

  • Toi Smith, co-founder of The Spell of Capitalism

  • KC Davis @domesticblisters on TikTok @strugglecare on Instagram

My intention with the 24 Notes for Disengaging from Perfectionism (LINK TO BLOG POST) is to offer you a variety of concise reframes, perspectives, and reminders that have supported me, my clients, and my community members in the ongoing process of disengaging from perfectionism so we can reclaim rest, joy, and our humanity.

I encourage you to go deeper with this work in a way that fits your capacities and needs, whether that's therapy, a qualified business or personal coach, reading books, lifestyle shifts, prioritizing your mental health & sanity, or something else.

My hope is that you listen to your own truth today. Honor what your body is telling you it wants and needs, whether that’s rest, play, food, sleep, movement, dancing, comfort…whatever it tells you.

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