There are lots of things that motivate us to do well. We all want to be successful. We want to be proud of our work and we want others to recognize our good work.
Sometimes there is an even more powerful driver to success itself: the worry that others will criticize our work.
When we are working from this fear we are coming from a place where everything has to be perfect. The problem is that we are rarely perfect. Since we are rarely perfect we don’t try because we are afraid of the criticism that will result from our imperfection.
Recently I was working with a client named “Brian” who was having a hard time taking action because he needed things to be perfect. During our session we found that he believed the following:
- I have to be perfect at everything.
- When I am not perfect it feels horrible.
- I am not living up to what I should live up to.
- Others will look down on me.
- I am going to let myself down.
- I am going to feel foolish when I fail.
- Therefore, I am only going to attempt things I know I can do perfectly.
These beliefs were serving Brian well. They spared him the misery of feeling foolish by avoiding the conditions that required him to be perfect.
The problem was that everything didn’t really need to be perfect. The consequences he feared were not real but because of this fear of what would go wrong if he wasn’t perfect, he wasn’t trying anything at all.
So we tapped:
I don’t have to be perfect at everything…there are lots of things where I just need to do well enough…I don’t have to tie my shoes perfectly…I don’t need to make a sandwich perfectly…I don’t have to make the bed perfectly…there are lots of things in my life where all I need is to do them well enough…this doesn’t mean that I will stop striving…this doesn’t mean that I will stop striving for excellence…but I am going to keep everything in perspective…I am going to give myself permission to know that I can do some things well enough without having to do them perfectly.
This round of tapping created a greater sense of peace for Brian, but he could still feel some resistance. For some reason it was still a standard he felt he needed to live up to so we continued the work by going after the definition of perfect:
It is good that I am trying to be perfect…this is rooted in wanting to do my best…this is rooted in wanting to become my best self…but perfect isn’t about getting everything right…perfect is about doing the best that I can…perfect is about living in this moment…perfect is being able to be thankful for this moment…perfect is being able to recognize that in this moment I get to choose who I am…in this moment I get to learn more about myself in the world…perfect is being easy enough with myself that I know I will get another chance…perfect is striving to be my better self…I am always going to be a work in progress…I am never going to do everything perfectly…but I can live this moment as perfect…by striving to be my best…this moment can be perfect because I can learn from the things I am not doing perfectly
This created more peace and relief for Brian. It also created a belief that he could move forward without having to be perfect. As we were doing the tapping described above, Brian remembered his father’s need for perfection from Brian, even when he was a young child. We then tapped to clean up the emotions in those memories.
The need to be perfect, or the fear of what will happen if we aren’t, is one of the most common reasons we don’t take action. Tapping is great for working on that part of you that needs to be perfect.
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