Is Your Perfectionism Rooted in Fear?


Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love and Big Magic  says perfectionism is fear in really good shoes.

If you think about it, she’s right.  We often look at  perfectionism as this noble trait. We think,  “Abena works so hard, she just wants thing to be the best they can be”.   But maybe we want our creations to be so good that we stifle them  and ourselves in the process.

I stopped blogging for years because I started obsessing over details that were worth some consideration but not all of my time and mental energy. I began to doubt myself and get lost in my own thoughts. Instead of just writing like I had done for all the years before, I stopped working on my gift , withholding it from others and  limiting the craft that gave me purpose.

Perfectionism aka  “fear is good shoes”  is dangerous because we kill the magic; the goodness that is already there by focusing on what is wrong.  This type of fear is rooted in trying to avoid negative feedback. We don’t want people to notice our flaws or quirks because we value external approval or opinion a little too much.

We can become so controlled by perfection that we stop our creation from serving its purpose.

Write a poem. be truthful,  clever, and imaginative.  Use the techniques you’ve learned in creative writing class or from reading other poems. Edit to the best of your ability and maybe ask a friend to help. You do  want it to be at readable and understandable at the very least.  There is nothing wrong this.  You even want it to be great.  Even better!  But know when to release control.   Release it when you start  thinking your work is garbage or when you start feeling badly about yourself.

Instead of criticizing yourself to a point of disempowerment ( again, a level of self-critique is necessary) or instead of worrying how people might judge you, based on this single work,  think about if sharing your creation will have a positive impact on someone in some way.  And then share it.  Not only might it bring a smidgen of happiness to someone else, you may feel better about your craft as well.

Yes, you can go back and edit.  When you see a way that you can improve your creation , definitely go back and make it better.

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