Fear in High-Heeled Shoes
I always call perfectionism fear in high heeled shoes, because it’s fancy. It’s like a really fancy haute couture version of fear because perfectionism can advertise itself as a virtue and it can trick you into letting it think that it makes you special.
Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear
I heard Liz Gilbert say this to Marie Forleo in an interview over the summer and the visual image really struck me: fear masquerading as a set of fancy heels. High-heeled shoes make our legs look great but, let’s face it, they’re not usually the most comfortable shoes. We sacrifice comfort for beauty which, if we analyze it in different terms, means we’re focused more on the external perception of ourselves than our internal one.
I like how Liz links perfectionism as an advertisement for virtue. We think our perfectionism makes us special instead of who we are, full stop. While perfectionism exists across the spectrum, I find it especially pervasive in women, particularly accomplished women. After the Judge saboteur, it’s definitely one of the top saboteurs I see in coaching. As I said in a recent blog, saboteurs aren’t interested in resolution; they are only interested in being right. Perfectionism drives us to do more, work harder, be more and then it tells us to be grateful that it’s doing its job because of “x” achievement even when we feel completely physically and emotionally drained.
What’s the cost of perfectionism? Dissatisfaction, frustration, disconnection. As we dig through the layers, we eventually get to Liz’s key point: fear. What are you afraid of? What are you hiding? And here’s a question I love: What are you tolerating? Take a moment to inventory the cost of perfectionism to you today.
We all want purposeful, authentic lives. When we focus on the exterior which in this case takes the form of perfectionism, we serve ourselves no favour. When we pay attention to the interior world, the need for perfectionism drops away. Why? Because it just doesn’t matter. Our purpose comes from within not without and authenticity becomes the natural outward progression of living a life fully loved.
The older I get, the less I wear heels. I’m special not because of how I look but because of who I am. I am enough. No more, no less. And so are you. Take that, perfectionism!