Musings of a Recovering Perfectionist

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musings of a recovering perfectionist

By Karen McMahon


Perfectionism and divorce are a lethal combination.  We begin with an impossible task.  We are going to do this divorce thing right…the best…unfaltering.  What does that even mean?!

  • Make the best decisions
  • Handle everyone’s reaction perfectly
  • Say the right thing
  • Do the right thing…always
  • Pick the best attorney and expect perfection from him/her.
  • Negotiate the best deal
  • Be the perfect STBX…the perfect divorcing parent
    • no arguing,
    • no ‘bad’ choices,
    • no hurtful words spoken

OMG…as if divorce is not hard enough!!  We, the proud perfectionists of the world, will do this thing perfectly!

I used to brag about being a perfectionist.  Yup, that’s me!  Everything I do has to be just so and I am good enough, hard working enough, determined enough, dedicated enough to make sure I reach perfection…every time!  Boy was I hard on myself.

Fatal flaw…there is no such thing as perfect.  We are not and cannot be perfect.  When we put ourselves and our efforts into the Perfectionist Box, we invite Failure, Disappointment, Judgment and Condemnation to our party. We take the enormous rainbow of possibility out of the game and set our eyes on the thin Black border surrounding it.  We MUST live in that tiny space or we have failed.

We avoid decisions, tasks or opportunities for fear of failure. We don’t celebrate our success because it isn’t perfect.   We don’t celebrate our authenticity because we lack perfection.  We carry around a chest of masks, further limiting our ability to just BE in order to fit into the tiny little perfection box.

Do you hold yourself up to that high standard of perfection?  Do you see how you are a prisoner in the world of perfectionism?  How fragile the measurement of your worth when put up against this impossible mark?

The impact on others is severe as well.  We cannot help but try to control the uncontrollable and so we burden everyone around us to strain for the impossible and then judge and condemn them as well for falling short.  Consider the pressure they feel…the message we send – “your efforts (YOU) are NOT good enough.”  During divorce this adds more stress and tension to an already challenging time.  It all but guarantees an outcome that falls FAR SHY of perfect for all involved.

I invite you to a much more pleasing and realistic approach to divorce and life.

I am responsible to give my best effort at all times.  The Outcome is OUT of my control and not my responsibility.  I will focus on that which I have control over, my effort, and choose to do my best.  Then, I SURRENDER the outcome.  

The beauty of releasing ourselves from perfectionism is that we get to BE ourselves in all our authenticity…beauty, capability, limitations and all.  It is a practice of Acceptance of and Love for who we are.

The funny part, is we have ALWAYS ONLY been able to do our best, so what we DO does not change.  How we choose to BE changes.  

  • We release ourselves from responsibility for outcomes that are out of our control.  
  • We acknowledge ourselves for our strong efforts
  • We love ourselves for both our abilities and our shortcomings
  • We become more compassionate toward ourselves and others who fall short of perfect (everyone!!)
  • We become self loving  and in doing so, invite more love in
  • We become more collaborative and less commanding
  • We just do it, because ‘it’ is our best…but not perfect

We begin to live life from a new perspective.  

  • This article is NOT perfect, but it is good enough
  • My choices around my divorce are my best at this time
  • I offer positive support to my children, staff, spouse, friends for their efforts rather than judging the outcome
  • I give myself a break for just being human
  • I take life with a grain of salt
  • I enjoy the expanse of best effort and good enough
  • I surrendering the outcome
  • I make every effort to improve, better, hone, refine AND let the concept of perfection go

At this point, you might be thinking, it sounds GREAT, yet I feel SO AFRAID to do just that.  Why??  Your fear makes sense.  Getting to the root of your perfectionism will make this shift happen faster and with more ease.  As coaches, we explore these tender places within you and the result is always an amazing release, a lifting of a weight that you have been carrying a lifetime and a thrilling opening for a new way of being.  Reach out and learn how we can support you in finding your way to your joyful, gorgeous, authentic self.


Chief Visionary: Karen McMahon

KM1 3_16Our team of coaches at JBD is passionate about helping men and women navigate the emotional difficulties of relationships, breakups and divorce. We work together with you to open the possibility that your current relationship challenges can lead to a rewarding voyage of self-discovery and an immensely more pleasing life experience. Together we create a path to clarity. Find out if Coaching is right for you, and accept my gift of one FREE session.