How much of a perfectionist are you?
- Does it take you a long time to make a decision?
- Are you the kind of person who is not easily satisfied with their performance / results / efforts?
- Do you spend a lot of time organising and making lists before you even start a task or a project?
- Do you tend to procrastinate when you are assigned a challenging or even boring project?
- Do you sometimes find yourself occupied with less important tasks while other more important ones are ...still pending?
- Do you find imperfections in other people that annoy you, especially in friends and partners, and do you start losing interest in them because of these imperfections?
- Do you prefer to avoid situations for fear of failure?
- Is it important for you to deliver results with absolutely no mistakes or imperfections?
- Do you like raising the standards of your performance, even if that means that you have already tried hard so far?
- Do you spend a lot of time "fixing" small details?
- Do you postpone the reward of your successes and achievements for later, until a bigger success comes your way?
- Are you overly concerned about what other people (might) say about you?
These are a few characteristics of a perfectionist and if you have answered "yes" to most of them, then... Join the Club!
To clarify, perfectionism is not being perfect or delivering perfect results. Perfectionism is the stress that we are never enough, that we don't deserve rewards or even a break until we try more. And more. And more. It's the feeling that we are never good enough.
How did it all start?
Perfectionism is our response to uncertainty around us. It's our attempt to control our environment and / or our future. Therefore, one possible origin of this behaviour may be found in our childhood: overly critical parents, an unstable environment or big change(s) in the family. One way or another, we felt that by controlling small details and organising our lives to perfection, we would feel safer and more protected.
Moreover, we might have copied this behaviour from someone else. Again, someone in the family taught us the importance of achieving and adjusting to the external rules and norms, and this is how we ended up seeing perfectionism as our anchor.
Culture, thinking patterns, fears, all are possible reasons why we thought that perfectionism was a good way to cope with challenges.
Why perfectionism is not useful
Perfectionism is not useful, because:
- It makes us lose focus and confuse the important with the unimportant.
- It makes our Inner Critic's voice so loud that we always judge ourselves.
- It makes us judge others as well, and the toll it takes on our relationships is heavy. We are left alone.
- It makes us feel shame for who we are and for who we aren't.
- It's scientifically proven that it's highly related to anxiety and depression.
- It keeps us stuck in our comfort zone for too long, even if we would like to move forward, we don't dare.
What we need is:
- More imperfections.
- To let go of control when it's not necessary.
- More calmness in our lives and being at peace with who we are and with whom we choose to be.
We are enough already, and we are not negotiating our value, because that's painful and exhausting. Say it with me: "good enough" is the new "perfect"!
Stay tuned because there is another article coming up with tips on how to defeat the unhelpful and dysfunctional side of perfectionism and keep only the helpful one!
Are you a perfectionist as well? How do you cope with your perfectionism? Let us know in the comments!