First of all, Thank you to those of you who have reached out to me about the upcoming Workshop for Perfectionists! And if you don’t know what I’m talking about– it’s Illuminate’s very first virtual workshop with yours truly 🙂 Be sure to check it out.

Welcome to week 2 on the topic of perfectionism: Understanding the root belief behind your fear of making mistakes.

When I was about 8 years old, I got my first failing grade in school.

And it was for a project I was really excited about. Here’s the story.

For this project, I had to fill a shoebox with artfully-displayed, collected items. I felt giddy; I’ve always loved collecting things + making them look beautiful. I had an idea in my head of THE PERFECT SHOEBOX. It would be beautiful, creative, and clever. And, most importantly to little Maria, I would make the teacher so proud. She would shower me with praises, and I would feel so loved. 

But, as time went on, I didn’t start the project.
As the due date approached, I felt the mounting pressure of not having begun THE PERFECT SHOEBOX. I felt stuck between a rock and a hard place.

The rock: If I turned in a complete shoebox, it wouldn’t meet the unrealistic expectation of THE PERFECT SHOEBOX I had in my head. Then my teacher would know I wasn’t perfect.

The hard place: If I didn’t turn in the shoebox, I would fail. But the idea of the THE PERFECT SHOEBOX, and my potential to be perfect to my teacher, would live on.

The little perfectionist decided to fail the project. I decided it was better for my teacher to think I am incapable of finishing the shoebox than for her to believe I gave it my all and am imperfect.
Perfect. Perfect. Perfect. In order to get that praise I so desperately craved, I needed to be perfect. In order to get that love, I needed to be perfect. That little girl grew into an adult woman, and she still sometimes tells herself: “I have to be perfect to feel loved.”
That’s the root belief of my perfectionism. What’s yours?

What is the basic need(s) that fuel your desire to not make mistakes? This activity will help you unravel the roots of your perfectionist beliefs.
1. Center + Remember
Take a few deep breaths and remember the last time you were afraid of making mistakes (it could be from last week’s event). Pay attention to how your body feels.

2. Fill in the sentence
Then, read the next sentence (preferably aloud) with each word option.
I have to be perfect in order to feel _________.
(Choose a different word if you have one)
3. Choose your belief
Which one(s) feel right for you? This is a clue into your root beliefs around your perfectionism.
PS- this is a shortened version of an activity we will be doing in the Workshop for Perfectionists. I would love for you to join us on Feb 25 if you’d like to dive in further 🙂


How did it feel to read that sentence?
How does the word(s) you chose relate to your life? How does it show up on a regular basis?

When are some other times you feel the word you chose to fill in the blank?

Illuminate is a weekly e-mail series that provides practical tips + galvanizing inspirations for practicing an emotionally intelligent life. In our time together, we’ll operate from the assumption that you have all the wisdom you need inside of yourself + that you have a purpose the world needs to see. We will explore the tools + techniques to illuminate your own inner wisdom and purpose. If you’d like to receive this free gift of goodness in your inbox every week, subscribe here.

Maria Jackson

Program Manager at Six Seconds
Maria Jackson enjoys writing about the personal side of practicing emotional intelligence. Her noble goal is to “nurture inner illumination,” and she feel grateful to work and live in a world where she can practice daily. She shares stories, tips, and inspirations for living EQ in Illuminate, a free, weekly e-mail column (6sec.org/illuminate). She'd love to hear from you at [email protected]
Maria Jackson

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