Isn’t it interesting that despite perfectionists striving for a perfect outcome, their Imposter Syndrome Persona tells them they’ll never, ever attain the perfection they seek. This means they have to settle for the booby prize, being “perfectly imperfect” – a term that sounds positive, but really just means that you have managed to be good enough to avoid judgement and criticism but not good enough to be the unique, exceptional human being you are meant to be.
Perfectionism is a defensive strategy associated with the imposter syndrome because individuals with imposter feelings may try to compensate for their perceived inadequacies by striving for perfection. They may believe that if they can achieve perfection, they will be able to mask their feelings of inadequacy and avoid being exposed as a fraud.
Perfectionism provides a sense of control and a way to avoid criticism or failure, which can be particularly appealing to someone who struggles with the pervasive belief that they aren’t good enough despite evidence to the contrary.
However, the problem with using perfectionism as to defend against being judged or criticized is that it is ultimately self-defeating. And because perfectionism is an unattainable standard, it leads to a cycle of self-criticism, self-doubt, and anxiety, further entrenching us in the Imposter Syndrome.
The other side of perfectionism is that it stops us from trying new things or taking on new challenges. If we can’t do something perfectly, then I won’t do it at all. Imposter syndrome sufferers become paralyzed by their fear of possible failure, which leads to procrastination, avoidance, or even quitting altogether. This perpetuates the cycle of feeling like an imposter. In our minds we can believe we are letting others down when we aren’t as perfect as they expect us to be.
Individuals with imposter syndrome need to recognize that perfectionism is a defensive strategy not who you are. So many people say things like, I can’t help it, I’m as perfectionist. This is not who we are it is how think and behave to make sure we never feel embarrassed by human things like making a wrong choice, making mistakes or not mastering a skill. We aren’t really trying to be perfect, we are trying to avoid feeling.
By learning to differentiate between the defensive strategies, of your Imposter Persona, like perfectionism, and your authentic self, you can learn to be human, to tolerate feelings and let your authentic self be free to thrive. Your Imposter Syndrome Persona is limited, your authentic self is not. So, muster up the courage and reach out and get the help you need to release you from the grip of perfectionism.
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