Lesson 8.2 - Gratitude: why it is important and how it works
Hey you! Welcome to lesson 2.
In this lesson we’re going to explore the relationship between gratitude on the one hand and perfectionism on the other hand. And specifically, how gratitude can help you on your quest of overcoming perfectionism and becoming an imperfectionist.
In fact, I strongly believe that gratitude can be the strongest weapon in your perfectionism-fighting arsenal.
You might wonder why and, like, how? I’ll tell you aaallllllll about it.
As I’ve said in many lessons before, but it bears repeating, perfectionism is not about striving for excellence. Perfectionism is not about being uptight, detail oriented, and overly organized. This is what perfectionism REALLY is: perfectionism is a fear-based response to insecurity and uncertainty.
It’s a thought pattern that goes like this: 'If I do this perfectly or have a perfect life or look perfect, I am in control and therefore people can't hurt me or see me for who I really am.'
At the root of this thought pattern lies an assumption: that who you really are isn’t enough. No matter what you do. No matter how hard you try.
Perfectionists have what I call a negative tunnel vision: you dismiss the good in your life while giving center stage to the bad.
When you’re in perfectionist mode you operate from a place of lack. Your perspective is that you’re lacking, your life is lacking, the people around you are lacking, the work that you do is lacking and so on and so on.
You believe that you’re not enough and so is your life and work. You focus on all the things you don’t have, aren’t good at, have failed at…
The fastest way to snap out of perfectionism, to snap out of that place of not enough is to focus on ENOUGH. To focus on the things you do have going for you.
Now, let’s dissect this and what it means:
Focusing on enough and on the things you do have going for you, that’s the definition of gratitude. Gratitude lets you focus on what’s there. Not what isn’t there or what you wish was there, but on what IS there.
Focusing is a verb. It requires action. It means that you have to do something. That’s why you need to PRACTICE gratitude. Gratitude isn’t just a theoretical concept or a feeling that’ll magically appear. It won’t. You need to put gratitude in action. We’ll talk about different ways to practice gratitude in the next lesson.
Okay, so then how do we use gratitude to overcome perfectionism?
“Be grateful for what you have!” That’s the thing you hear most about gratitude, isn’t it? Just focus on what you have. But, to me, that’s a very shallow way to practice gratitude. You can go so much deeper in your gratitude practice than that.
Besides, just focusing on what you have is only the first step in overcoming perfectionism.
The obvious thing to do when being grateful for what you have is to focus on your material possessions. However, you can also be grateful for immaterial things, like friendships, a song you love on the radio, or nature’s beauty.
But perfectionism isn’t so much about what you have or don’t have. It’s very much about what you’re doing or not doing. When you’re stuck in perfectionism you’re fixated on the things you’re not doing enough of and if only you did things better or more perfectly you’d feel better and you’d win the approval of others.
“Am I doing enough?” is the question that’s constantly on your mind. And the answer is always no.
Now, what if you approach the question “Am I doing enough?” not from a place of perfectionism, but from a standpoint of gratitude? In that case, you’d answer that question with a resounding YES! You’d focus on all the things you are doing. You’d be grateful because of all the things you are doing right. You’d be grateful because you’re doing the right things.
This last part, where you use your gratitude practice to go deep into your way of thinking and your beliefs, is where the magic happens.
Perfectionism focuses a lot on the belief that you’re not doing enough. But underneath that belief lies another belief. The belief that YOU are not enough. That you’re lacking, flawed, broken, imperfect, unworthy.
The gratitude strategy with the most impact is to be grateful for who you are. I admit, this is difficult. For most of us, including myself, this doesn’t come easy or naturally. So, why don’t you make it part of your gratitude practice? From now, make one of the three items on your gratitude list about yourself.
Be grateful for who you are. For your character, personality, qualities, talents, mind, body, spirit, soul.
Finish this sentence: I am grateful because I am ...
Kind? Compassionate? A great listener? Strong? Imperfect? All of the above?
With practice, a focus on gratitude will come more naturally and it’ll be easier to snap out of that place of perfectionism.
Let’s get you set up for success. Let’s hop on over to the next lesson where we’re going to go over different ways for creating a successful daily gratitude habit.