Cedric Centre for Counselling Inc.

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Perfectionism increases anxiety and isolation

It is ridiculous to expect yourself to do anything perfectly the first time. It just is. When you start a new job, your supervisor doesn’t say, “Screw up once and you’re fired!!” No, they say, “Here’s Georgette. She’ll train you. Ask her any questions you have and don’t worry, we understand it takes a good six months to really find your stride in a new position.”  In other words, we know you’re not perfect, we don’t expect you to be, and we want you to let us know the limits of your knowledge so we can educate you further, and we all win.

If you had key adults in your life who shamed or blamed you for making mistakes, it quickly became unsafe to let anyone know what you didn’t know. Unfortunately, that approach to life usually leads to more mistakes, not fewer. It certainly leads to great anxiety and distress and a sense of isolation that rarely leaves us because we are afraid to let anyone in. Second chances must be a part of life. Life is for learning. That means we aren’t going to know what we’re doing much of the time; we learn as we go, and sometimes (more often than we’d like) we learn by what didn’t work rather than by what did.

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