The Opposite of Joy is Perfectionism
We are born with only two fears: the fear of falling and of loud noises. As we grow, our fears grow too. We worry about what we might lose, instead of what we might gain. We don’t think of ourselves as perfectionists, but we’re scared to try things that don’t guarantee us a positive outcome. As Brené Brown writes in Dare to Lead, “Healthy striving is self-focused. How can I improve? Perfectionism is other-focused: What will people think? Perfectionism is a hustle.” The good news is that once we identify our kind of perfectionism, and see it as a lousy shield between us and the world, we can drop it. It helps to remember that our innate selves are brave. When we take risks, we actually start to feel more like ourselves.
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This content appears in my forthcoming memoir, Fierce Joy. It is everything I know about bravery as a woman, a partner, a parent, a leader, an athlete, an activist, and a brainstem tumor survivor. My editors say it’s fast-paced and beautiful and funny. I say, don’t forget that it’s a love story. This is the memoir I’ve been working on in the pre-dawn darkness every day for the past two and half years. It’s about showing up real in life and at work and what gets in the way, namely perfectionism. It’s about love and death and living life to its fullest. It’s about choosing joy over fear and brave over perfect. It’s about looking underneath our fears to find unlimited joy. It’s about how our striving, saving, and performing to do things the “right” way is making it impossible for us to show up real. It’s about how Fear has become a main character in our lives, and a dangerous obstacle to real change.