Perfection is Pure-Fiction – Set Yourself Free from the Cage

My name is Diane, and my Habit is Perfectionism.
About 1 in 9 of us have this core habit – the other 8 get to have something else, on the wheel of the Enneagram personality types

My mind nags: “Gotta fix this, inside me or outside. Things are not good enough.”
But things are good enough!
It’s just a scratchy old recording, telling me otherwise.
It’s not true.
Why do I listen to it?

I deeply appreciate everybody and everything in my life – except when I don’t.
I lose sight.

I slip-slide down the ungrateful path, the critical path. 
My Inner Critic is tenacious and persistent, whispering those old Nothings, criticizing and tearing apart and trying to improve everything I see.

The Critic lures me, unawares, into a cage.
It makes me think I’m in charge of the world and I must get perfection.
It paints a beautiful perfect picture, unreal, inside that cage.
And in I go!
Entranced by the glory of perfection, that pure fiction.  

I take the bait. I’m hooked.

As I hook into my Habit-of-Mind, my Critic ever so softly shuts the cage, trapping me inside.

I barely notice, because this is me, my usual place, my fallback, my power and control, my ego at work.

Getting it perfect is my job, after all.
I’m engaging the fake perfect picture.
Gotta get it right.
Be the best.
If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.

Righteous. Self-righteous. Virtuous.
“Lemme tell you a thing or two” (says my blind arrogance).

Darkness spreads inside my cage, but I press on.
I pour on my gleam.
I can do this, I’m a saint.
Working the situation.
Pushing the river.

I still can’t see how fake the picture is, how it’s only a layer of paint, an illusion.
(By now I’m practically licking that paint, in admiration.)

. . . eventually my belly begins to feel this place is no fun.
It’s isolated.
It’s dry and empty, and I can’t find a way out.

I mistakenly slipped into solitary confinement – because, you see, I’m so damn good, I’m aloof from the rest of ya’s! (Tsk, yeah, arrogant.)

Yet I still can’t get this thing perfect enough.
Can we say Anger?

Anger helps me discover I’m trapped.
Caught in my Habit-of-Mind Cage.

Okay. At least now I know where I am.
I fell for that perfect picture again.
The paint tastes bad in my mouth.

I grope for my tools.

Feebly I try gratitude.
Forget it, I’d rather scream and whine.

But . . .
Heck, it could be worse . . .
I’m glad I have air in my lungs, I guess . . .
I’m thankful for . . .
This thing I’m trying to correct might be okay as it is . . .
Maybe it’s good enough . . .

Slowly, bits of appreciation open my constricted heart.
A few millimeters, widening.

Maybe I can calm down, try a little serenity (my main tool).
Surrender to Serenity.
Breathe. Let go.

Breathing deeper.
Releasing the perpetual bone I tend to chew.

Opening to gratitude.

Reconnecting, coming out of isolation. 

Unlocking my Cage.

Slipping out into freedom.

Ahhhh – relief.

It always feels like a miracle, because it IS.


So. It’s none of my business, but —
What throws you into your cage?

  • Do you want to avoid conflict at all costs, and go submissive in order to keep the peace? (Type 9, Peacemaker)
  • Afraid of boredom, so you’re running super-busy? (Type 7, Adventurer)
  • Do you have a constant urge to give to others, but they don’t reciprocate, and you feel burned-out? (Type 2, Giver)
  • Does everything look threatening and untrustworthy? Tons of things could go wrong, and you have to analyze them all. (Type 6, Loyal Skeptic)
  • What if deep inside, you feel competitive, you cannot fail, so you overwork yourself? (Type 3, Performer)
  • Maybe others impinge on you too much. You want to withdraw, keep your distance, so you’ll have enough time, space, resources. (Type 5, Observer)
  • Perhaps your Achilles’ heel is that, wherever you look, people/things seem lacking or disappointing. Something is always missing. (Type 4, Romantic)
  • Possibly you feel compelled to dominate and take charge of situations; you cannot rely on anybody but yourself. (Type 8, Protector)

When you can see your own Habit-of-Mind, you take a big step to true freedom and happiness.

As you explore Enneagram personalities, you begin to understand your family, your friends, (your enemies?), your customers, your coworkers, your boss, on a much deeper level.

Enneagram has lightened up my life immensely.
I highly recommend giving it a look.
Check out a quick casual personality quiz  on (under “Freebies/Downloads”).

Enjoy the latest podcast series – Enneagram Conversations, hosted by my friend Renee Siegel.

Tomorrow, Monday August 9th, 4:00 – 5:00 pm (Arizona time),
a friend and I will join Renee to reveal more about our Type 1, the Perfectionist.
(I’m offering a little giveaway, too.)

We’re bound to have fun – come on over!

Join the Podcast and/or listen later. Check out the archives too.

The line, “Perfection is Pure-Fiction” is attributed to Arielle Ford and Janelle Jalbert.

Transformation Talk Radio on the Perfectionist or Reformer
Tension, Armor, Relaxation – How Your Personality Squeezes You
How Enneagram Changed my Life and Can Empower You 

This post has been revamped and revitalized since its first appearance in 2014.

Diane Stallings RN does distance healing, EFT tapping, and/or Biofield Tuning on the phone, energy healing sessions, Chakra Balancing, and health coaching. She gives you practical ways to lift your wellbeing. Make an appointment in Phoenix or Fountain Hills or on the phone anywhere.

Birds fly free MaxPixel and my sunset 

(Thanks to MaxPixel for this silhouette, and thanks to the sunset at my house, for this image.)

About Diane Langlois Stallings

Diane Stallings RN, Reiki Master, Energy Healer, Healing Touch, Enneagram Coach, EFT tapping, Meditation Coach, Nutritionist, Integrative Health Coach
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