The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself. Anna Quindlen
Perfectionism has been a part of my life for years. In fact, I used to brag about being a perfectionist. Perfectionism has stopped me in my tracks many times and it has kept me working late into to the night to complete projects. As a college professor, I observed my students struggling with perfectionism as well. What took me years to understand is that perfectionism is the opposite of self love.
Perfectionism Is The Opposite Of Loving Yourself
At the end of the work day, most people are exhausted and want to rest. Rest is good and restorative. When you are on a quest for perfection, there is no such thing as rest. One is constantly in pursuit of an ideal, a quality, a body image that satisfies them via the satisfaction of others. Itís like being on a hamster wheel. This is the downside of perfection.
What is Perfection?
Perfection could possibly be described as the attainment of a state where you are lacking nothing. It sounds quite ethereal and spiritual. In that sense, it would be something that you would continue to strive for but never attain fully. With spiritual goals, the journey is what brings satisfaction. With perfection, the journey is just another frustration that means ìyou arenít worthy yet.î Who wants to live like that?
Several people do, whether they know it or not. For many reasons they are not happy (subjective) or satisfied with their lives. The focus is on everything outside: finances, career, relationships, children, fame and the like. It can lead to the pursuit of more goals but without an increase in satisfaction. Why? These people focus on outside stuff to validate their existence – who they are. As long as outside things can be changed, shift, or in the case of people, offer an opinion, you are standing on sinking sand in regards to perfection.
5 Reasons why Perfection is Not a Worthwhile Goal
Isn’t it time you let yourself off the hook? Realistically, you can be the best you can be but perfect is subjective as well and often unattainable in most situations. Even if it is attainable in some areas of life, it is not ìmaintainableî.
1. Perfectionism is Driven by Fear
It could be fear of being unloved or fear of rejection if you don’t maintain a certain look or attitude. At some point ask yourself, is it worth it? Does this drive for perfection elevate or diminish you as a person?
2. Perfection is Frustrating
Pressure piles up like heat in a pressure cooker. You are going to blow if you do not get some relief. Always pursuing but never achieving or maintaining can lead to strife, depression and a wasted life. Back in the 90’s, I picked up a book called If You Don’t Have Time To Do Right, When Will Find the Time to Do it Over. I do not recommend this book. It made my perfectionism worse.
A much better book would be Getting Things Done by David Allen. This book is much better at helping you accomplish your goals without getting bogged down in perfectionism.
I have learned that it is better to break down my work and get it done even if it is not “perfect” than to do nothing. This was true for my students as well. If they were to submit a less than “perfect” project they would receive a grade for it but submitting nothing was a guaranteed F. Plus the fact that “Perfect” does not exist.
3. Unresolved Issues Can Fuel your Drive
Instead of dealing with the fact that your parents divorced and you feel it was your fault, you strive to be perfect so that does not happen to you. One does not absolve the other.
4. Perfection Is Conditional
Love should not be. Perhaps you had a parent who got upset with you for bringing home less than an A on your report cards. Their anger made you feel unloved if you did not make straight A’s. For those who feel perfection is important, you are only of use to them when you can exemplify that ideal. Otherwise, they don’t want you.
5. Perfectionism In Not About Self-Improvement
Love & self-acceptance lead to real change if you want it. Otherwise you are running from the true issue.
Perfectionism is the twenty ton shield we lug around thinking it will protect us when in fact, it’s the thing that is really preventing us from taking flight. Brené Brown
Brené Brown in her excellent book, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are
Pursuit of perfectionism brings pain, dissatisfaction and self-loathing. Get rid of it today.
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