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Perfectionism: overcoming its root cause

By Nadine Saad

"I always call perfectionism 'fear in high-heeled shoes'."

Hearing Elizabeth Gilbert, one of my favourite writers, say this in an interview was just the wake-up call I needed.

I used to pride myself on being a perfectionist. But these candid words held up a mirror that I instantly knew I needed to look into more closely. And look closely I did.

Perfectionism is one of the most toxic illusions we buy into.⁣⁣ And it’s exhausting. ⁣⁣

It stifles creativity, curiosity, authenticity, spontaneity and intuition. It holds us back from taking action and making progress.


And if we’re being completely honest with ourselves, it’s a standard we set out of fear of not measuring up. ⁣⁣

I'd struggled with perfectionism for years, yet all the while I happily convinced myself that it was a positive trait.

I pressured myself to achieve perfect results, not realising that I was actually trying to hide that I didn’t feel good enough underneath it all. I couldn't see that I was masking fears of failure and rejection at the time. Burning the candle at both ends while swanning gracefully on the surface.

I believed I needed to look the part perfectly, trying to gloss over the parts of me that I thought were flawed.

And I projected these fears outwardly, stressing about people and things around me in very unhealthy ways.

Until I realised where the pressure of perfectionism was stemming from.

While this was a massive reality check,⁣⁣ it came as an incredible relief at the same time. Once I could see it clearly for what it was, I was able to let perfectionism go very quickly. And this felt like an enormous exhale. I no longer felt I needed to reach for an impossible "ideal", and could see what was driving this pattern with a lot more compassion.


I was able to accept that I will never be perfect. None of us are or ever will be perfect. Nothing will ever be perfect. ⁣⁣And I could finally accept that this is perfectly alright.

But above all, it meant I could accept myself - just as I was - that little bit more.

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