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Perfectionism; There Is No Such Thing

Updated on October 3, 2018
Joe Andover profile image

Retired after 40 years in transport management, Ken has been married for 46 years. Ken and his wife have 3 children and 2 grandchildren.

"No one is perfect... that's why pencils have erasers". ~Author Unknown

Perfectionism is a belief that being perfect at all times can and should be attained. Anything less than perfect is unacceptable. Perfectionism...there is no such thing! Perfectionists have the constant feeling that nothing is ever right or good enough. They are sometimes chronically unhappy. This is considered an unhealthy belief. Perfectionists have obsessive personality types. Perfectionists tend to be exceptionally sensitive to criticism. Perfectionists suffer from anxiety and low self esteem. In marriages and other deep seated relationships, unrealistic expectations can cause significant dissatisfaction for both partners. Perfectionists may sacrifice family and social activities in their never ending search for being perfect or in their inability to shake their low self esteem.

Compulsive behavior is often used to pacify a perfectionist who feels like a failure or loser for never being able to be "good enough" in life. Knowing that one will never be able to achieve perfection can lead a perfectionist to lose the belief that they will ever be able to improve his life significantly.

When you think about it, what IS so great about being perfect?

Discouraging news...

How about pessimism? Yes, that is part of this behavior too. Since a perfectionist is convinced that it will be extremely difficult to achieve an ideal goal, he or she can easily become discouraged, disheartened and pessimistic about their efforts to reach a goal. Sad but true. Depression? Yes, that too. Recognizing that it is impossible to always be perfect, a perfectionist runs the risk of feeling depressed. Perfectionism, it does not exist!

All or nothing is hurting us...

Well, on that cheerful note…! Seriously, there are some redeeming qualities to perfectionism. It can be the source of the driving energy that leads to great accomplishment. The meticulous attention to detail and the persistence which can lead to great things, all result from perfectionism. But for the most part, negative thinking surrounds perfectionism. This all or nothing type thinking leaves a person feeling that they must either be perfect or they will feel useless and meaningless. Perfectionism keeps people focused on failure, dooming them to a lifetime of doubt and depression.

Why do I bring up this subject? Because perfectionism undermines what is good in society today. It keeps people completely self-absorbed and leads to people feeling anxious and depressed. Life is short. There are many, many problems that we are facing in today’s culture and we are losing many of our values and ideals. All that we have left that no one can take away is our ability to enjoy life. Enjoy life and all its imperfections. Do not sabotage your own happiness with thoughts like, “neatness is very important to me” or “everything must be in a proper order.” Learn to relax. The sun will come up tomorrow.

You can change .....

So, what can you do if you are a perfectionist wanting to change? Plenty!

  1. Accept the fact that you are human.
  2. Forgive yourself for mistakes.
  3. Goals are guidelines to be worked towards, not reasons to feel failure.
  4. Be patient.
  5. If at first you don’t succeed, it’s OK to try again.
  6. Accept yourself as you are. Other people love you because of it, so love yourself.
  7. Get rid of unrealistic expectations and believe that you deserve good things.
  8. Master the idea that it is progress and not perfection that counts.

I know that this transformation will not be an easy one. The first step in changing from being a perfectionist to a healthier lifestyle is to realize that perfectionism is undesirable. Perfection is a fallacy. Set realistic and reachable goals and that will enable you to achieve a greater sense of self-esteem. Recognize that many positive things can only be learned by making mistakes. Making a mistake is an opportunity to learn something. When Thomas Edison failed hundreds of times in making a light bulb, he never saw that as failure, he saw it as hundreds of successful ways of not making a light bulb. If something doesn’t work out just right, ask yourself what you can learn from it.

You are a gift from God. So what if your folks were demanding and critical. They loved you and did the best they could in raising you. They were not perfect either. Realize that today is all that you have. Yesterday is gone and tomorrow may never come. Live life to the fullest and enjoy what you have and who you are. Tell the loved ones in your life how much you love them. Stop trying to control other things and other people. Silence that critic living within you. Most of all, be happy. You are worth it.


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