Perfectionism Is Too Much!
Rhoberta Shaler

  

Do you strive for perfection?  Many folks do and it is a burden for you and for those around you.  Nobody's perfect, but you sometimes feel a constant pressure to do things exactly as they "should" be done every single time.

If this is a pattern for you, it is well worth the time to examine it carefully and consider breaking the mold.  You'll be much happier, and much more attractive.  In my psychotherapy practice, I was once talking with a woman who also enjoyed doing cross-stitch as I do.  She told me that she sometimes would take out hours and hours of work for one imperfect stitch. As we spoke, it became evident that there was no area of her life where she could relax and relieve herself of this pressure to do things perfectly.  Her relationships were fraught with the tension of being "nice", being "proper", being "liked", being perfect.  Mostly her life was ruled by the impossibility of succeeding.  Why?  Because she was doing difficult things for the wrong reasons and tying herself up in knots in the process.

Perfectionism has its roots in the desire--and need--to be accepted.  Perfectionists have been trained to approach everything they do in ways that will impress the people they care about.  They want to impress them so much so that those people will want to take them to themselves and never let them go.  Rather than being taught to accept themselves, they were trained to make themselves SO socially acceptable to others that that is their only focus.

Parents play a primary role in creating this drive for acceptance in you.  The desire for acceptance is normal but the drive for acceptance is excessive.  That drive comes from the idea that you must never fail to impress those who are important to you.  For some folks, that is generalized into wanting to impress every single person, important to them or not.  Commitment to this tireless and endless effort stand in the way of knowing that most folks are lovable and acceptable just because they breathe!

Perfectionism is rooted in the foolish and futile attempt to do the impossible for dubious reasons.  It creates anxiety and makes each day stressful.  In the extreme, some folks feel that making a mistake should be punishable by death!  It wastes time and energy.  It is very difficult for a perfectionist to create a close relationship with anyone.  When you are never satisfied with yourself, you can never rest.  You may even resent the folks you are trying so hard to please.  In the final result, the lives of perfectionists are run by other people--people who may approve of them if they are perfect enough.

Imagine the disarray in a relationship when a perfectionist wants the approval of a controller.  No matter what the perfectionist does, the controller keeps moving the marker, wanting a little more perfection.  What a nightmare!  What a great relationship to leave!

If you find yourself in a constant state of anxiety, spend a few moments examining your degree of perfectionism.  Sure, it's a great thing to have occasionally, but it is a destructive way to live constantly.  Are you beating yourself up for not being perfect?


Rhoberta Shaler, PhD  All rights reserved worldwide.
Rhoberta Shaler is a keynote speaker, consultant and seminar presenter who works with organizations to improve workplace relationships, build & strengthen teams and manage conflict, anger, and difficult people.  Visit her at sowpeace.com.

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