How To Tell The Difference Between Perfectionism And Self-Improvement

My name is Betsy Olsen, and I struggle with perfectionism. 🙂 

Sometimes we think if we want to love and accept ourselves, we have to give up on self-improvement. We think if we want to lose weight, we have to hate our bodies. If we want to decorate our house, we have to hate the way it is now.

Brene Brown made a brilliant distinction between perfectionism and self-improvement. From her book The Gifts of Imperfection:


Perfectionism is not self-improvement. Perfectionism is, at its core, about trying to earn approval and acceptance...Healthy striving is self-focused--How can I improve? Perfectionism is other-focused--What will they think?

Brene Brown

As you’re doing your daily tasks, or working towards your goals, notice the thoughts in your head. Why are you doing what you’re doing? 

If you’re worried about what other people think, welcome to being a human. We all worry about what other people think. 

But our thoughts are not us. We can choose our motives. Notice how you feel when you ask yourself, “What will ‘they’ think about me doing this?” and “What do I think about me doing this?”

Do you like your reason?

It’s pretty interesting to notice why you do what you do. You don’t need to change it. You don’t need to judge it. Just be interested. What do you learn?

P.S. If you’d like help with a tricky situation, a goal, or a difficult relationship, be sure to sign-up for a free 45-minute coaching session. I’m really good at helping you become aware without judgment. Just sayin’.