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THANK YOU….. you just summed up my swirling thoughts into something i can read with out everything else in my head meshing with it. I finally feel like i can explain what happens within without getting distracted. I’m an Introvert with ADD and it makes it so hard to explain quite what im feeling sometimes. — M.G. on space2live
M.G.
I think I want to print out your articles and hand them out as a sort of relationship waiver form. “You want to be my friend?….You are interesting in going out? Here read this first. Sign here to acknowledge that you have read and understand the enclosed material. Thank you.” Seriously. I think it would work. — Guerin Moorman
Guerin Moorman
You’re so honest in your writing. It’s bold. It’s frank. It’s wonderful. I could definitely see the work you are doing here as a useful book. It could save/make a lot of relationships! — Jimmi Langemo
Jimmi Langemo
During one of the harder times in my life I found Brenda’s website
and reached out to her. To say the least it has been one of the best
decisions I have made. Being an extrovert I never quite understood
what it meant to romantically involved with an introvert. Brenda does
an incredible job listening, giving in the moment feedback, and helped
me understand the how an introvert functions. She helped explain to me
that I am introspective extrovert, and this gave something to identify
with and allowed me t…
Evan H.
Your site has saved my sanity and my life. Maybe even my marriage. I work part time and have two young boys at home, my husband is supportive of me but until recently I thought I was going crazy. … Reading your writing not only inspires me to pick up the pen again, but gives me nourishment in the deepest places. I will fight for balance. Everything you write is spot on… And wellness is so incredibly multifaceted.  I was ready to give up hope, but understanding myself through your words is bring…
J.K.
I met Brenda and took the MBTI… I had a fairly good understanding of these types before the meeting but was impressed by the depth of knowledge that Brenda shared with me. She clearly has a passion for this work and a gift in imparting the information. There have been doors opened for me because of our talks… — Alan Hintermeister
Alan Hintermeister
BRENDA: thank you SO much! Your advice is exactly what I need to do. I am amazed how much you “get” me after only exchanging a few messages!… Again, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You’ve helped me more than a year of therapy sessions! – Megan on space2live
Megan
I have been dating an introverted man who I am very in love with for almost 2 years.  Reading your posts have helped me to be more supportive and understanding to him especially during the times when he needs space.  I just wanted to thank you for your weekly posts and let you know how helpful they are for someone who is in a relationship with an introvert. C.M. on space2live
C.M.
That courage and dedication you so generously share with the world, has inspired me to push myself a little harder, persevere at each task a little longer, dig a little bit deeper to where the answers just “feel” right to both my humanity AND my spirit. Your insights have reinforced my direction and given me additional tools that help me clear my path. I’m wired into my creativity as never before and the new music is pouring out of me faster than I can record and produce it; this is the Un…
Gary
Because of your blog, I know that it is possible for me to have the love that I want one day and that I don’t have to be alone.  — Indepthwoman  on space2live
Indepthwoman

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Perfectionism Won’t Protect You but It May Make You Invisible

“If we just try hard enough we can avoid all these situations that make us feel so vulnerable.”  — Caroline McGraw

How many of us can relate to the above statement? I know I can. For the longest time, I thought if I do everything just right, no one will call me out or criticize me. I’ll get to stay in “the club”. I thought if I do everything as I should, my parents will love me, my teachers will love me, my sister won’t have anything to tease me about, my friends will keep me in the gang, I’ll attract a good boyfriend and I’ll get a respectable job.

High sensitivity = more perfectionism?

Do highly sensitive or introverted people have a deeper need to exhibit perfectionism? Do we have more fear and worry about standing out, especially negatively? I personally do. Standing out negatively is also the crux of social anxiety —  the fear of being judged and evaluated negatively by other people.

Never 100% safe

But, as Caroline McGraw says in her Tedx talk, Perfectionism Doesn’t Protect Us, “We are vulnerable no matter how we perform.”

Being perfect does not make us invulnerable. It could make us tired though. Perfectionism covers up our real selves. Not showing our genuine feelings and needs, drains us. We work so hard to smooth over all the rough spots, that there is not much energy left to enjoy the fruits of our labors. We don’t let ourselves relax. It’s vital to perfect ourselves or whatever endeavor comes next.

Underneath our sheen of perfection, our soft vulnerable core resides. It’s always there open to scrutiny and unpredictable outbursts.

Real self endures

If we only knew how strong the imperfect us truly is. When we make mistakes our perfect mask slips off. That is when we learn our true selves can survive. The more we survive mistakes the stronger and more confident we get. We know we can withstand imperfection and its accompanying fallout. The fallout becomes more feedback and less criticism. We don’t get as drained because we are no longer hiding our real selves.

You were so good, I forgot to pay attention

Here’s another thing to think about regarding perfectionism. Sometimes it makes our performances so seamless that no one notices. When everything goes well, it is easy to move on without appreciating the work put into the task.

Or in the case of people, the ones who always perform perfectly often get overlooked. We expect their perfect contributions. Growing up, I did as I was told. I never got in trouble in school. I did not argue with my parents or ask for help very often. I took care of myself and everything so well — covering all the bases all the time— I was the kid no one worried about.

Sometimes perfectionism can make us feel invisible.

Flaws give you character

As a paraprofessional in the school district, I have noticed the perfectionist, teacher’s pet students almost seem annoying and boring (and I was one of them!). They don’t have any character. They just color within the lines like they are supposed to. I could be biased because most of the students I work with are outliers and in some cases, outlaws. I like them for their imperfections and uniqueness. It’s hard not to see them.

I want to tell the perfectionist students to loosen up. Blow off an assignment or two and have fun with your friends. Fail a quiz or two and see how you survive.

Having just gone through the college admissions process with my son, I saw how many colleges reviewed applications from students with perfect grades and perfect extra-curricular experiences, with a yawn. It was like they said, “We’ve got a million perfectionists just like you. We can’t take all of you. Bring on someone who stands out.”

Perfection not worth it

Knowing perfectionism can’t protect us from vulnerability and that making mistakes and surviving actually does fortify us, gives us reason to dump our drive for perfection and embrace our mistakes.

Are you a perfectionist? If so, how would your life be different if you let go of being perfect? If not, how does it feel to be free?

 

Photo by Glenn Carstens Peters on Unsplash

Photo by Meireles Neto on Unsplash

 

You all know I love to help people find clarity and strength in their relationships. I’ve researched, written about  and experienced first-hand, the benefits of relieving self doubt and improving connections with others. Well, Caroline McGraw (mentioned above for her Perfectionism Doesn’t Protect Us Ted talk), asked me to present during her FREE video series titled, The Clarity Course: How to Handle Doubt, Get Unstuck, and Live Your Purpose. It’s designed to help you handle doubt, get unstuck, and live YOUR purpose … not anyone else’s.

There are over 28 speakers including Amy Cuddy, whose helpful talk on body language and confidence I featured in The Engaging Introvert: Socializing Admirably. The course launches on October 15th and runs through November 4th. My interview will run on Friday, October 19th. Click here to find out more and claim your free ticket to this special event!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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3 Comments

  1. Michael Buley October 8, 2018 at 1:04 am - Reply

    Perfectionism. Hmmm. I’m so flawed, so insecure, fail in so many ways in my business, never come close to accomplishing all that I know I could accomplish, am a terrible businessman in too many ways, never learn all that I want to learn and know I could … I fall short in patience in caring for my mom … the idea of perfectionism makes me laugh out loud!

    Perfection is impossible. But a sunset is perfect. Blue skies are perfect. Sadness, grief, are beautifully perfect. And an exquisite joy — or sorrow — is perfect, too.

    Probably 35 years ago, when I was reading everything I could find on success and attitude — how could I make something of my life? — I read a book with a title I can’t remember, but it had ‘failure’ in it. Lessons from a Failure, or something like that. I’ve looked for it through the years, and wish I could find it again. I was struck by someone who wrote about her failures. How real. How genuine. Instead of ’30 days to the life you dream of,’ sure, let’s talk about failure.

    We fail even if we don’t. We fail if we set the bar so low, it’s all safe. We have failed our true selves, which always are wanting to grow, try, explore, discover, play, create, and just see what happens. We fail profoundly if we play it safe. We fail if we go off to explore and create and try. Either way, we are failures! Grand failures! And it’s so much grander to fail when exploring and trying!

    I think my view, today, at 63, is different from yours, Brenda, and Kat. It’s very different from my own 20 years ago, 30 years ago. In my 30s and 40s, I was intensely impatient, frustrated, amazingly insecure without having any idea I was SO insecure! … wanting to do more and better with my life. That drive is a good thing. And I had a view of myself that wasn’t accurate. I had the notion that I had my stuff together! That I was, somehow, perfect, I think! or maybe i thought I could be … lol …

    I have come to a peace with me. lol … I like me. With all of my weird things and failures and quirks and fears and insecurities — they run deep — I like me. I will fail again. I may lose everything again. And I don’t worry at all about it. I have, in a strange way, every confidence that everything is going to be just beautiful. A deep humility, and a supreme confidence. Or maybe it’s just a knowing, an acceptance of whatever life brings, and knowing I will survive it. Or not! But as long as I’m alive, I’m surviving it! As John Mayer’s song says, “I am invincible, as long as I’m alive.” I LOVE that line!

    We don’t need to be perfect. We just need to like all of who we are. And ‘all of who we are’ is a magnificent discovery all of our lives. It’s not all pretty, either. And it’s all of who we are. Which, as I always say and very much believe … is beautiful.

    As Kat said, thank you, Brenda, for the space to write these things. I sometimes feel guilty for going on so long!!! I cut this writing in half as it is! I feel self conscious writing and writing and writing … it’s like, man, what a blabbermouth! lol … I just wonder and think about all these things, and writing about them helps me to get things out, form them, understand them more clearly.

    Man, am I lucky you don’t put word limits on people’s comments, Brenda!!!

  2. Kat October 5, 2018 at 5:11 pm - Reply

    Where does one find the perfect words to describe the agony associated with this disease?! ‘Perfectionism’ is a disease! I personally struggle with it on a regular basis!

    Now I won’t deny it has served me well with my small business! I obsess about the coffee beans I roast for my customers to be nothing less than ‘perfect’! The quality in my work, pays off with loyal customers that continue to order the perfect coffee beans!

    At the same time, thriving for perfectionism in other endeavours, has proved to taint my life with the dark shadow of disappointment. When I cheat on my perfect exercise routine! When I sleep in when I’m supposed to wake up early to do this and accomplish that!
    When I look in the mirror, and notice a less than perfect figure than the one I used to have! And I begin to chastise my weak prefrontal cortex! The part in my supposed to be more perfect brain! The part responsible for my will power.

    The story goes on and on…Peace is being robbed! The quest for a cure for that disease, continues!

    And by the way Brenda, where is Michael?! It’s unperfectly quiet around here when he doesn’t pop up 🙂

    Thank you for making us all -in your perfectly laid out space- think more, learn more about our perfect imperfections, notice them more, pay attention to them more, so we can grow happier and wiser.

    • Michael Buley October 8, 2018 at 1:26 am - Reply

      Kat, your writing has such a bounce and a life to it. It’s really a marvel to behold and sense, to see, something far more than your words. It’s quite beautiful.

      I think obsessing over a coffee bean is a beautiful thing, too. I think obsessing over something, anything — it’s fun and exciting and crazy and alive. Obsessions like that hold us and possess us and won’t let go. I have no idea why, though I wonder about it quite a lot. What it is. It feels like a life form inside of us. Us, and not us at all. Some being that came into this world with us, and simply will not let us rest. I have for quite a long time thought that thoughts and emotions — obsessions and passions — they are their own entities, beings, life forms. Very much like us, but invisible to our senses.

      And they hold us and possess us. They show us what is possible. Not perfection. But something better than what is. Whatever it is we obsess over. A coffee bean. The way words string together. The sound that an instrument makes. They show us the beauty in it. They use our eyes to look at something, our ears to hear something. And we hear and see and sense something altogether different and more than I think most people do. Perhaps no one else sees what we see, hears what we hear. Which can be lonely. And it’s just what is.

      It’s like we have a life, or lives, these beings, living inside of us. They have their way with us, too. They simply won’t let go.

      Now, there’s perfectionism we strive for because of insecurity. And then there’s something else. Something pure and right and good. Its purpose is to make something better, and in doing so, bring a joy to others. It comes from a sense of duty, responsibility, service. It hasn’t a thing to do with insecurity. Whether we’re deeply insecure (like me), or quite confident, this is apart from all that. It’s this vision inside of us, this sense, this knowing — it’s a knowing — “I can do this better than has ever been done. Or at least I’m going to give it one hell of a try, and it is going to be FUN!”

      Maybe someone joins us on the ride. Maybe no one does. Still, we must do what we calls from within us to do. We must let our whatever-it-is-inside-of-us come to life, and breathe, and play. We play with it. We discover with it. We explore and create with it. It’s all beautiful play. It’s extraordinary and exquisite and the essence of all of nature, I think.

      I like the idea of the perfect coffee bean. This beautiful little bean that, loved and cherished and gushed over, basically, it will bring joy to you and to others. Isn’t that something beyond words? I think so. You’ll see people’s delight. And this little coffee bean will have loved others. Somehow, when we do it the way we are supposed to, it’s all love.

      I’m laughing out loud as I close … it’s all so mysterious and exciting and exhilarating and exhausting!! We’re so lucky to be obsessed and possessed, I think! It’s really quite fun!!

      I don’t think many people experience it. Perhaps most people aren’t born with beings who possess them like this. Or maybe everyone is, and most people stomp it out over time, and it goes silent, sad to say. So finding someone who actually is possessed and obsessed, so this other person knows and understands and goes, ‘yes, be obsessed! it’s beautiful!’ … finding someone like that can be difficult, at least. If you experience it at all as I do, then that’s quite a beautiful thing, too.

      And Kat, thank you for asking after me. That was quite sweet — unperfectly quiet! lol … I think I do tend to write too much sometimes, but you see, I could write and really never stop. I sometimes think it is exactly what I could do, hour after hour, as all these little beings want out through my fingers. The furthest thing from perfection, unless perfection is bliss, and it is bliss for me when I let them all flow through me and out onto pages.

      Keep writing, Kat … your words are so alive and excited and jumping with excitement! They really are! I love to see them … lol … they make me laugh and smile. I get excited with them!

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