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Why Perfectionism in Self-Development + Relationships Can Be Counterproductive

NOTE: The notebooks in this photo represent only a few of my over 60 journals of writing that I have kept and continue to write over the past 10 years..)

Do you sometimes feel frustrated with your self-development journey? Do you wish you could already feel secure in yourself, trust your instincts, love how you communicate, and feel relaxed and trusting in your relationships, work, and how you show up for yourself, your family, friends, and community?

Even writing this list of wishes and expectations can be tiring. I find myself feeling repulsed by the term "self-development" because it implies there is always something to clarify, improve, or better.

Part of me agrees that there is always room for growth, clarity, and development. I love that about being human. Growth is fun, engaging, and supports me in feeling alive, right?

Yes, but it can also be counterproductive when I become obsessed with doing everything perfectly. I find myself wanting to learn from every mistake and constantly move closer to my best self.

Why is this counterproductive?

I've noticed that this drive towards perfection and self-improvement often stems from the anxious behavioural patterns I'm trying to change through self-awareness. Sometimes, I'm so fed up with life (particularly romantic relationships) not meeting my expectations perfectly that I become obsessed with recognizing all my patterns and flaws. I try to approach them with compassion and curiosity to ensure I experience less pain, frustration, and loneliness next time.

What's the issue?

I see this as a clever and pseudo-spiritual way to self-avoid and predict future discomfort. Of course, you also want as little discomfort as possible, right? A relationship where you can relax and know you have each other's backs?

Me too. But I don't want to seek perfection in myself or another. By doing so, I am self-sabotaging. I am not allowing myself the space to be human with another person, nor them with me.

What I truly want is to be willing to stay in the unknown, the grey zone where discomfort lives and grows. I trust my body, heart, and intentions to naturally shift and grow, like every cell in my body that changes without my conscious effort.

I like to remind myself that: "Every cell in the human body replaces itself over time, showing that life is inherently regenerative and capable of continuous renewal." – Dr. Bruce Lipton, The Biology of Belief

These are the intentions I hold for myself:

  • Can I be comfortable in my humanness while celebrating moments of growth and change?

  • Can I swim in the mud and mess of life while staying connected to my wishes for clarity, integrity, relaxation, trust, intimacy, and more?

  • Can I truly accept my unhelpful patterns in relationships while being open to new ways that serve life better?

What about you? What intentions do you hold for yourself? Share them with me - I'd love to hear them!

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