Reshma Saujuani an American lawyer and politician, states that from an early age women are taught to be quiet, polite, and to play it safe. This is how we learn that it’s not okay to take risks and if we are not guaranteed to excel at something right from the beginning, we shouldn’t even try.
The desire to be perfect holds us back in so many ways. We don’t speak up for ourselves, as we know deep down we should, because we don’t want to be seen as pushy, bitchy, or just straight-up unlikeable. When we do speak up, many of us agonize and overthink how to express ourselves, trying to hit just the right note of assertiveness without seeming too “bossy” or aggressive. We obsessively analyze, consider, discuss, and weigh every angle before making a decision, no matter how small. And if we do, heaven forbid, make a mistake, we feel as though our world is falling apart.” Reshma Saujani
The problem with perfectionism is that it prevents us from recognizing our own self-worth. We all have something that only we can contribute to the world. Our uniqueness on its own is something to celebrate.
Our desire to be perfect can keep us from living bravely. It can cause us to avoid doing what we really want to do. This can impact our mental health and eventually cause sadness and anxiety. Here are several ways you can begin to practice bravery.
Choose bravery over perfectionism
Small but powerful acts
Being brave doesn’t mean doing big scary things every day. You do not have to start with asking your boss for a raise or moving to a new city. You can start by speaking up at a meeting or introducing yourself to someone you would like to meet.
Trust doesn’t mean you trust that things will work out as you want them to. True trust is deeper than that. It’s about trusting yourself. Trusting that you can handle the consequences of living bravely. If you fail, you will be fine. Even more, tremendous success can happen because of failures. Rasha Saujani ran for office twice and twice she did not win. But because of the first time she ran, she saw that girls and women were underrepresented in the technology sector and as a result, she founded the successful non-profit organization Girls Who Code. By the end of 2018, 90,000 girls across the US will have developed computing skills. Without Rasha’s failure, Girls Who Code would not exist today.
Understand others will be fine without you
This scenario can play out in several ways. In a job that is chaotic and demanding, with many co-workers relying heavily on you, you may feel as though everything will fall apart if you take a day off. But when the time comes and you finally make the decision to take time off, you find out that everyone pulled together and they managed just fine without you.
Similarly, many mothers feel as though the family couldn’t manage anything on their own without her. But, when she finally breaks free and leaves the family alone for a morning or afternoon, she finds that her husband and children are quite capable of figuring things out on their own.
Embrace good enough
The writer and memoirist, Elizabeth Gilbert often quotes her mother’s motto when discussing the need for bravery in creativity.
Done is better than good!”
This was the phrase that guided Elizabeth while struggling to write her first novel. For most of us, it takes time and practice to become good at something. Embrace good enough as opposed to perfect, and you will move forward accomplishing one thing after another.
Learn to leave your comfort zone
If you are a perfectionist, you likely prefer to stick to what you know. Even trying a new recipe can seem daunting (what if it doesn’t work?) This can apply to your work or career life as well. Needing to excel at what you do may keep you trapped in a job that you are very good at, but don’t enjoy at all. Leaving your comfort zone gives you an opportunity to learn something new and be brave.
For extra inspiration enjoy watching Brene Brown’s Call to Courage.
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Jennifer Lauren Arceneaux, LMFT is a licensed Psychotherapist and Marriage and Family Therapist.Please share this post!