Why Perfectionism is a Form of Oppression - Stay With Me Here

Apr 09, 2019

By Sunday Tollefson, MBA, PMP® 

Q. Is perfectionism oppression?

A. First, let's talk about perfection. Perfect doesn't really exist. It's an impossible bar to reach. Work that you completed in the past, will - in hindsight - be Swiss cheese.  You'll see all the holes. 

Be gentle with yourself when you see prior work that isn't up to the standard that you have for yourself today. 

Researcher Brené Brown says perfectionism protects us from being judged. It helps us avoid criticism and blame. And it's rooted in shame. Shame is the idea that we are bad people (as opposed to guilt, which is that we did a bad thing).  When you really think about it, this makes sense. Startling, mind-blowing life-altering sense. 

Somewhere far in our past, we were made to feel that we were bad people because our work product wasn't good enough. Result? We believe that perfection is the only way to avoid the shame sensation. Fear of feeling that sensation again is what creates the safety of impossible perfection. 

Think about the fear you might have that you need to get rid of or eliminate in order to process past that perfectionism and get to accepting "good enough" or "perfectly good" as your new bar. 

Second, let's talk about oppression.  To oppress means "to burden with cruel or unjust impositions or restraints." Are you cruelly oppressing your full potential by insisting upon perfection as an impossible goal? Are you restraining the scope of what you're allowing yourself to perform? Are you creating unreasonable limits for yourself? 

If you are a perfectionist, know that it's a trap. Next time you're being hard on yourself for imperfect work, remember that perfection is never good for you, your work product, or your team.

Is perfectionism oppression? It is. Don't oppress your work output in favor of your fears.

© Sunday Tollefson

Are you on LinkedIn? Follow the Inspired Success company page here!


50% Complete

Yes! I wanna be the first to know when a program is revealed!