The Perfectionist Fallacy in Relationships

May 07, 2024

In this episode of the Advanced Relationship Podcast, Jenny talks about the Perfectionist Fallacy in Relationships. 

You can watch this episode via video on YouTube here: CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE VIDEO PODCAST ON YOUTUBE EPISODE 101 (Be sure to subscribe so you never miss an episode). 

You can also listen on any of the major podcast players (search "Advanced Relationship Podcast Jenny Morrow").

If you prefer reading, you can read the transcript here: 

Hi, this is Jenny Morrow. Welcome to the Advanced Relationship Podcast. Today, we're going to be talking about something called the Perfectionist Fallacy.

I'm super excited for this topic. Today I want to talk about something that came up when I was working on writing the book, Mastering Boundaries, which came out just a few months ago. So if you're interested in this, you can get it on Amazon.

And a lot of work went into this book, really like 15 years I've been developing a lot of the models in this book and reflecting on the ways of thinking about these things. And it's taken a long time for all of the pieces to kind of come into place to where I felt ready to write about it and put out the book. One of the things that I researched when I was doing this book is something called logical fallacies.

And in the book, I talk about the difference between emotion and logic and how both are so important. They're two sides of a polarity. Emotion is really the receptive experience, where we receive our desire through our experience of emotion.

And logic is the outward. So you have the receptive energy of emotion and you have the giving energy of logic. Logic is where you conscientiously think about things with a certain process to come out with a conclusion that can fit reality more and more clearly over time.

And the idea is that we receive our desires, and then logic helps us to actually manifest them, actually create them. One of the things that can block our ability to do good logic are what are called logical fallacies. And knowing logical fallacies can be so helpful because it can help us catch those moments when we're actually thinking about something in a way that might be less likely to be like, aligned with reality simply because of the process we're using.

And so understanding logical fallacies allows us to be aware of those blind spots more clearly, more quickly, more accurately, so that we can actually think a different way that can be more accurate to reality. And this is so important when we're learning how to relate to ourselves, different aspects of our life and others in a way that's going to align and help us create more of what we want. One of the logical fallacies when I was doing my research stood out to me because when I read it, I immediately caught it and I was like, that is one I do.

It's one I've done a lot in my life. It's one I still struggle with, and I'd never heard of it described as a logical fallacy or described in that way. And it was so helpful.

And ever since then, I've been able to use it to help me balance my thinking. So we're going to talk about that fallacy in particular today. And the fallacy is called the perfectionist fallacy.

And it's not just about being perfect as a person. That's not really what it's about. The idea here is that a perfect solution exists and that you should keep looking for it before you take any action.

Another way to think about it is that if some solution to a problem doesn't solve the problem perfectly, then that solution is unacceptable.

So anyone listening relate to this. If you can relate to this, raise your hand, even if it's just in your mind, because this is one that when you start to see it, you can actually begin to rewire it. You can begin to call it transcendent, right?

You can see it. That's basically what we mean. You can see it, and instead of allowing it to be the thing that controls your logic or makes the decisions, you actually see it for what it is.

You can quote “transcend it.” You can choose to see it for what it is and think about something a little bit differently. So the other reason this fallacy has resurfaced in my awareness recently is because I read a novel this month called What the Wind Knows, a gorgeous novel.

I'm actually not remembering the name of the author.

It's a novel that relates back to the Irish Revolution, and it is fiction. And even though it's fiction, it does talk about some events that were real during the Irish Revolution or Irish War of Independence. This is when the Irish was, I believe it was around the year 1919 that this was happening, and the Irish were wanting to create independence from Great Britain at the time.

So one of the things that happened is initially the Irish were fighting the British for their independence. At some point, they decided to sign a treaty, and those who had been involved in leading this revolution, many of them agreed to this treaty with Great Britain. Other people who were a part of leading the Irish Revolution did not agree with the treaty.

They didn't feel like it was enough. They didn't feel like it was a perfect solution. And it was really far from perfect in a lot of ways.

And some people saw that even though it was far from perfect, it was going to be a step forward, and that step forward was then going to allow them to take another step forward. And it was really powerful to read about this. They did end up, the treaty did go through.

What happened after that is there became more and more fighting within Ireland itself, between Irish people, between people who had actually been friends and who had been leading the revolution. Now they're fighting against each other.

And I was remembering this idea of the perfectionist fallacy as I was reading this book.

And I can just relate so much to wanting to find a perfect solution, to believing that things could be further progressed than they are. I see this for my clients as well. I see this in groups.

Myself having grown up in the Mormon religion and then leaving that religion about 12 years ago, around the age of 30. And over the last 10 years, I see a lot of people in the post-Mormon, ex-Mormon groups wanting things to be a certain way, and wanting the Mormon church to be a certain way. And yet, there's this reality that all we can do sometimes is take steps forward, and that even if something's not a perfect solution, it can still be a step forward that ultimately is leading us in the right direction.

That's what I want to talk about today is how can you, in your relationship life, have the intention of the direction that you're focused on going? How can you always be taking steps towards that? And even if something isn't a perfect solution, to trust that there can be a process of steps that can get you closer and closer to the perfect solution until one day, maybe get there.

Maybe you get to that place that you value, that you want. Maybe you get to the full expression of that desire. It's also very similar in a yoga practice where you might have a pose that you want to get to, but you can't necessarily go from A to Z immediately.

You have to go from A to B. You have to learn how to build up the different aspects of the pose until one day you're fully able and capable and ready. You have the strength and the flexibility to give a full expression of that pose, but it can take those steps to get you there.

So just know that this can be a fallacy that can keep you stuck in your relationship life. It can keep you stuck whether you're dating. It can keep you stuck in how you're relating to your partner in a marriage.

It can keep you stuck in how you're relating to a friend. It can keep you stuck to how you're relating to your child. The idea is how can we be moving towards what we want, increasing our strength and our flexibility and our capacity to relate in more honest, authentic ways, while still knowing that we may not be able to go from A to Z without taking steps to get us there.

And that doesn't mean it couldn't be possible in some realm that you could move faster or there's a different way, but to actually block yourself from taking action because you believe you need to be further than you are or because you need to have a more perfect solution can actually block you from moving forward and actually doing the work that's actually going to create the outcome that you want in your life. This also happens a lot in I see a lot in entrepreneurship and my own business, right? Sometimes I think unless I have the perfect solution for how to reach more people and how to get these messages out to more people, then maybe I just shouldn't even move forward.

And it can be this balance right between what's going to be steps towards that outcome and what is going to ultimately be able to move us there. Now on the flip side of this, because every fallacy can also have its flip side, or where the fallacy can be misused to also be harmful in the flip side of way, is that you could also say that, okay, so the perfectionist fallacy is a problem, and therefore I shouldn't expect so much. I shouldn't expect so much out of my partner.

I shouldn't expect so much out of my child. I shouldn't expect so much out of myself, out of anything in life, because it can't be perfect. And so I'm just going to settle for something that actually doesn't feel authentic.

So there is this balance between how do you find that desire of what you want and what's authentic and what's moving you towards that. And actually, actually, logically, is our steps to what can help you get there. And what could also be you blocking progress or movement, because you don't believe that what you want is possible, and you don't believe that.

And actually, I think they're kind of two sides of one coin, right? Because it can actually be if we don't believe that what we want is really possible, then we might be more likely to think that in order to believe it's possible, we have to see the perfect solution, right? The perfect solution.

So those are really kind of two sides of one coin, but they can show up as a different masked side. And so a different masked side of reality, I'll say. When you remove the mask, you start to see that in order to get to where you want, you're going to have to take steps and grow and build to get there.

Generally, 99.999% of the time, right? Every once in a while, you might just have some luck that brings something to you very quickly, where a lot of steps are skipped. And that's amazing and incredible when it happens, right?

You win the lottery. And statistically, when we're working with reality, we also are working with the reality of what it takes for most of us to create most things in our life. And it's so important to learn this process of being able to take steps to get there.

And I'm just reflecting it back on relationships in general and any other way that you might want to think about this when it comes to interpersonal relationships specifically. Some of the ways I have seen this play out that can be really hard is that I've actually worked with couples in sessions at times where someone will show up with the new skill. So I'll tell them, okay, I see this old way you're doing it.

It's not working so well. Let me give you another suggestion. Try this.

And I'll have someone try something and they'll be like, oh, I could see that's much more effective. And they'll try it and their partner will go, but they couldn't do that last week when I really needed it. I'm like, I get that.

That is disappointing. And if you want to get what you want out of this person, you're going to have to learn how to receive their efforts. And that might mean you have to grieve.

That might mean you might have to let go and feel the sadness that that couldn't have been that way last week. But that doesn't mean that you can't receive an effort today. Does that make sense?

This is where the perfectionist fallacy can really start to block movement towards what we want.

And trying to think of it, if there's any other good examples. This has happened a lot for me in my relationship life.

I tend to be a perfectionist with myself. And so the same thing can happen in my relationships with others. And there have been times where I see Bryce making an effort and he's really trying to do something a new way after maybe hurting me or disappointing me or using a tone I didn't like.

And it can be really hard to let go and let in the efforts because in my head, right, it should have been better then. He should have been able to do it yesterday when I needed it. Right now he's seeing, but I don't need him to see it anymore.

I needed him to see it yesterday. So it's just so understandable that these fallacies come up in our mind. A lot of times they're there to help us avoid feeling things that we really do need to feel, which again might be disappointment, grief, sadness.

So letting ourselves feel that is so important. It is really, really an important part of the process as well. But projecting that sadness, that grief, or that disappointment out as a limitation to ourselves or another person is really the thing that can get you stuck.

So you want to learn how to do those things, how to grieve, how to feel, how to acknowledge without projecting and without letting it create a limitation in the present or moving forward. That doesn't mean you can't feel it. So if you're interested in how to keep navigating these different mindsets, these different ways of thinking, seeing how it applies in different unique situations, if you want to come in and get your questions answered and get coaching, come check out the coaching options.

And it is so fun. I feel extremely passionate about this because I just see it change people's lives. There's one thing when you go into an individual session with a coach or therapist and you close the door, and it's right there.

And it can be beautiful and amazing to do that work.

Often Bryce and I are here together. Sometimes it's just one of us. So thanks for being here today.

It was so great to connect, and I will talk to you soon.

If you're interested in getting relationship life coaching we offer online coaching sessions for individuals and couples. We also offer wellness, mindfulness and relationship retreats for women, men, and couples in Saint George, Utah, near Zion National Park. We also offer an Advanced Relationship Life Coach Training there is a lot going on. Click on the tabs at the top of this website to see details!

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