Perfectionism and Embracing Struggles

The Struggle is Real – So Let’s Celebrate It! 

Carol Dweck says that a constructive topic to bring up at the dinner table is “what did you struggle with today? what will you struggle with tomorrow?” Make it normal, understandable and common to struggle. Research shows that praising struggles and mistakes is what helps people create a growth mindset.  She also mentions that athletes who ended up becoming stars were not the best athlete growing up.  The people who were #1s as a child coasted on their natural ability.  Athletes who started off as #1 who did not learn about the power of struggling or how to work through struggles were more likely to give up before succeeding – they did not know how to continuously work hard to achieve goals.


Place Value on Effort

Although I want to believe I have a growth mindset, I can’t help but realize there were times in my life when I had a fixed mindset.   For example,  I chose Sociology as a major during my undergraduate studies instead of psychology because I was too afraid that I would struggle through anatomy and physiology. Crazy that a class could scare someone so much. I remember my first gymnastics meet – at 5 years old, I begggggged mom to tell my teacher I was sick so I didn’t have to do it. I don’t know if it was due to my shyness, or due to the fact that I was afraid that I wasn’t as good as the other kids, but I hope that if that ever happens to my kids I’ll be able to guide her to take the chance and do your best because that’s what’s most important and we can be praised for that.

Dweck goes on to say that even though we don’t realize it – we might come from a fixed mindset as many of us grow up thinking if you’re really good at something, you shouldn’t have to work hard at it.  “Everything important in life requires huge amounts of effort over long periods of time.  If effort makes you feel inadequate you’re at a huge disadvantage.”

The Duck Metaphor

Everything is a process and people (adults and kids) need to be reminded of that.  Many times it might seem like people are not even trying but Dweck says that there are people who look like they’re not “paddling” but actually underneath are actually paddling feverishly.  They do this so that it seems like everything is coming naturally to them because in their eyes goals are attained effortlessly and aren’t something that people work towards.  More and more people are doing this and it’s having a harmful effect on the people who are doing it because they have to live up to this “expectation” that they think people have of them that they don’t aren’t working hard when they actually are – and it’s also damaging to others who don’t understand that this is taking place and thinking that everyone else is effortlessly “perfect.”

All the research shows that in order to live a peaceful life what we think, say, and do should all be in sync.  If we are all honest and not afraid to admit that it’s ok to struggle,  it would even out the playing field a bit and also let those who are trying to keep up this image feel a bit of relief.


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