I appreciate Brene Brown's distinction, too: perfectionism is not the same as striving to be your best. Unlike seeking perfection, healthy striving is about healthy achievement, growth, or self-improvement.
Perfectionism, on the other hand, is about trying to earn approval and acceptance. She sums it up this way:
o Healthy striving is self-focused – how can I improve?
o Perfectionism is other-focused – what will they think?
A long-time perfectionist, I am learning to soften the effects of perfectionism by being more compassionate with myself. I'm also learning to notice and appreciate my good qualities....neither of which are always easy. But there's a reason for that.
According to Neff, women tend to have lower levels of self-compassion than men do, because we tend to judge and criticize ourselves more often.
Appreciating our good qualities doesn't mean that we avoid our weaknesses. it just means we acknowledge that everyone, including us, has both positive and negative qualities; strengths and weaknesses.
I recently challenged myself to put together an updated appreciation list and here is what I came up with.
I appreciate my energy
I appreciate my enthusiasm
I appreciate my curiosity
I appreciate my self-awareness
I appreciate my love of learning and growth
I appreciate my ability to find beauty in nature
I appreciate my courage
I appreciate my new-found ability to be still
I appreciate my willingness to give
I appreciate my resourcefulness
The first three were easy. Then I got stuck. But I allowed myself a few moments to reflect and was eventually able generate the rest of the list.
These are all qualities that add value to my life and to the lives of others. I don't display all of them 100% of the time, but they are always there and I can draw on them fairly easily even in difficult times.
Will you accept the challenge? Can you list ten things that you really like or appreciate about YOU?
Brene Brown, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead
Kristin Neff, Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself