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Content Warnings: References to alcoholic parent, body-shaming, self-esteem issues
Petra Kolber began her career as a fitness instructor, but she soon began to notice the impact perfectionism was having on the women she coached. Now she runs perfection detox workshops built around her 21-step programme, which aims to support women in the journey towards embracing their flawed, imperfect, yet wonderfully unique selves.
The Perfection Detox is subtitled ‘Tame Your Inner Critic, Live Bravely, and Unleash Your Joy’ – I think we could all use some of that!
First Page Impressions
When I saw this audiobook on BorrowBox, I was immediately drawn to it. I am a self-confessed perfectionist: someone who obsessively checks emails for typos before sending, becomes far too invested in my university grades and generally just fears failure.
My inner list-loving perfectionist found the step-by-step structure of this book ideal to work through. Even more importantly, Kolber creates a sense of community and that anyone struggling with perfectionist tendencies is not alone.
However, I did struggle with the style of writing until I became more used to it – Kolber’s background in motivational speaking came through clearly, but I have a personal preference for a gentler, less forceful tone.
Final Page Reflections
The Perfection Detox provides some genuinely useful advice and resources. My top three were:
- Identifying your top negative thoughts and mantras to overcome them when they pop up
- Goal mapping
- The VIA Character Strengths test to find out your most positive attributes – for example, mine are love of learning, fairness and honesty. These are great for replacing negative self-talk, as it can be hard to focus on your strengths without a clear idea of what they are!
On the other hand, I was unable to relate to any of the real-life examples Kolber gives. I appreciate their purpose was to show concrete instances of perfection detoxing in action, but I have nothing in common with the privileged circle of New York socialites and career women that the author draws on for her illustrations.
“‘You were born to be real, not to be perfect”
Diversity and Representation
Although, as previously mentioned, the target audience of the book seems to be women of a certain social status, I applaud Kolber’s efforts to focus on pressures often experienced to a greater extent by women (disguising ageing, balancing career with family etc.), and to create a community of female solidarity.
- Positive psychology
- Women’s careers
- Role models
- Goals and opportunities
- Social media
Beyond the Book
Kolber talks a lot about social media and its potential to exacerbate perfectionism. In response to this, I have done a social media overhaul and now only follow content related to books or other hobbies (plus a few wacky friends from college who share things that make me laugh!)
- What do you think are the main factors contributing to perfectionism? Can social media be blamed or are there other issues at play?
- Are self-help books a fundamentally upper-middle-class genre?
- Kolber worked in the fitness industry before her career change to writing, speaking and running perfection detox workshops. Do you think the fitness industry needs to be held accountable for its potential to drive damaging levels of dissatisfaction and perfectionism?
“We are much more alike in our struggles than in our successes”
Read if: You feel the need for a motivational guide to help you break free from perfectionist tendencies.
Buy Now on Better World Books:
If you found The Perfection Detox helpful take a look at The Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine Aron.
Have you read The Perfection Detox? Do you have a favourite self-help book to recommend? Let me know in the comments – I would love to hear from you!