The Perfectionist’s Kryptonite: Lack of Self-Compassion

Kryptonite is outlined by the Oxford dictionary as, “one thing that may critically weaken or hurt a selected individual or factor.” It’s the one factor that if Superman got here in touch with it, would kill him and destroy his superpowers. 

As a Optimistic Psychology Coach, I’ve labored with many high-achieving and perfectionistic shoppers on growing the superpower of self-compassion. It has the flexibility to rework their relationship with self and others. 

So what’s the hyperlink between perfectionism and self-compassion? First, let’s study the standard of perfectionism.


What Is Perfectionism? 

It’s price noting that perfectionism isn’t all unhealthy. In lots of instances, it’s a character power that merely comes out sideways. For instance, the Values in Motion (VIA) Character Strengths Survey labels Appreciation of Magnificence and Excellence as a personality power. So, how will we differentiate between perfectionism vs. appreciation of magnificence and excellence? The reply is delicate. Whilst you would possibly admire magnificence and excellence in your look, you additionally want to just accept that our bodies age and alter with time. As a substitute of spending a lot of cash on procedures to remain wanting younger, discover inspiration from individuals who have celebrated the getting older course of and located contentment and humor alongside the way in which—a redefinition of what magnificence is. 

Likewise, you would possibly be taught to embrace “ok” in sure areas of your life, however be meticulous and detailed in different areas, like a profession or a craft that’s suited to subtle precision. I’ve typically appreciated that the one that cuts my hair applies a perfectionistic eye. Likewise, I’m grateful for the perfectionist strengths of the surgeon who reconstructed my knee. Chances are high, in case you are a perfectionist, you may have been instructed that you’re too anal, too specific. Upon getting this message time and again, you start to have a destructive relationship together with your appreciation for excellence, which then perpetuates a disgrace cycle. Seeing that it’s a character power when utilized in applicable settings can truly assist soften the have to be good in each space of life. 

An examination of perfectionism reveals all of the ways in which society feeds the perfect that we have to be good in all the pieces. Social media and promoting spotlight good lives, flawless our bodies. Globally, $67.3 billion was spent on beauty procedures in 2021, and that quantity is projected to achieve $201 billion by 2031. Our appearances aren’t the one place that perfection is offered. We’re tempted with concepts of the right house, good job, and self-help books on tips on how to be the right father or mother. And most poignantly, we’re offered the concept that in an effort to really feel worthy and complete, we have to be greater than odd—we have to be extraordinary. The price of this excessive normal is that after we don’t measure up, we deal with ourselves harshly and with condemnation. 

Kristen Neff, creator of Self-Compassion: The Confirmed Energy of Being Form to Your self, says, “Constantly feeding our want for optimistic self-evaluation is a bit like stuffing ourselves with sweet. We get a short sugar excessive, then a crash. And proper after the crash a pendulum swings to despair … We will’t all the time really feel particular and above common. The result’s typically devastating.” The fixed striving for perfection ultimately results in destruction in relationships, our our bodies, and our psychological well being. In brief, the perfectionist’s Kryptonite is an absence of self-compassion. 


Self-Compassion: The Superpower

If lack of self-compassion is the Kryptonite to perfectionists, then self-compassion is the superpower. Self-compassion is the flexibility to be sort to ourselves after we expertise errors, failures, or imperfections. It additionally entails having the ability to acknowledge and see our personal struggling. Lastly, self-compassion requires a recognition that we’re not alone within the wrestle for perfection. In a way, self-compassion can be the permission to be imperfect. 

Self-compassion has been linked to key parts of well being and well-being. Moreover, self-compassion practices have been proven to rework one’s pondering, relationships, and basic view of self. For the perfectionist, self-compassion could be a highly effective device in lots of areas of life. Neff highlights three core parts of self-compassion: self-kindness, frequent humanity, and mindfulness. 

  • Self-Kindness: In studying to be kinder to oneself, we give to ourselves the identical heat, consolation, and sympathy that we give to our associates, neighbors, and household who’re struggling. Moreover, it requires quieting the inside critic and self-judgment. Taking it a step additional, we ca acknowledge how self-judgment harms us on the stage of the soul. In line with Neff, true self-kindness requires that “we enable ourselves to be emotionally moved by our personal ache.”
  • Widespread Humanity: To be human is to endure and subsequently we will acknowledge the shared expertise that every one people face sooner or later in time. Some expertise extra excessive struggling than others; nonetheless, the actual fact stays that every one human beings endure. The truth is, it’s typically our shared struggling that connects us as human beings. That is the basic cause folks hunt down assist teams when grieving, battling dependancy, or therapeutic from traumatic experiences or sickness. Shared struggling bonds us collectively. As a key element of self-compassion, acknowledging shared ache could be useful in bringing us again into connection after we are feeling alone and remoted. As Neff says, “The emotion of compassion springs from the popularity that the human expertise is imperfect.” A remembrance of our shared wrestle with inadequacy and disappointment is what separates self-compassion from self-pity.
  • Mindfulness: Mindfulness in relation to self-compassion is solely our means to acknowledge and see clearly the ache of our experiences. Doing this with out judgment helps us acknowledge our ache simply as it’s, with out exaggerating or downplaying it in any means. We change into absolutely current to our emotions and expertise. 


Software to Teaching 

Neff’s work continues to be a easy but highly effective teaching device to supply a consumer who has come too near the damaging perfectionist’s Kryptonite. Working with self-compassion within the teaching setting can do the next for shoppers who’ve perfectionistic tendencies together with a harsh inside critic: 

  • Enhance mindset 
  • Obtain objectives by way of opening their creativity and willingness to take dangers 
  • Orient shoppers towards private progress 
  • Enhance their relationship with themselves and others 
  • Enhance well-being 
  • Strengthen the thoughts/physique/spirit connection 

As a recovering perfectionist myself, I discovered self-compassion makes all of the distinction in my willingness to place myself on the market as coach, and I take pleasure in teaching shoppers towards all the advantages listed above. I’ve seen them soar to new locations of their life with the superpower of self-compassion as their cape. 

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