Who Wants to Be
a Perfectionist, Anyway?

Mike Moore

  

Our culture seems to have elevated the quest for perfection to the status of virtue. When someone is described as a perfectionist they are frequently admired and envied.  A perfectionist, in my opinion is someone living in a constant state of dissatisfaction and that isn't healthy.  To perfectionists, no one, including their spouse, children, family, friends and themselves ever measures up to their impossible standards.  Perfectionists spend their lives never being happy with what they have accomplished always wanting things to be perfect.  I could have or should have done better becomes the motto by which they live.

Can you imagine the anxiety involved in living with a perfectionist?  I recall teaching a bright high school senior whose mother was a perfectionist.  After receiving an A in my subject she looked rather emotionless.  I asked her if she was pleased with the mark she achieved, and she said,  "Yes, but my Mother won't be. She'll want to know why it isn't an A+."

I don't know if full-blown perfectionism can be changed without psychological intervention, but I do think that it can definitely be avoided by adopting more reasonable expectations of yourself and others.  How?

* Make friends with your imperfections and those of others.  Sure, it's important to strive to do well in what you attempt, but if your best efforts don't result in what you wanted to achieve, don't be too hard on yourself.  It is more important to strive to improve than to insist on perfection.
  
* Strive to find pleasure in what you do, not perfection.

* Believe in the old saying "Anything worth doing is worth doing badly."  If you enjoy playing the piano but play it poorly, keep playing for the sheer pleasure it gives you.  It isn't important how well you play.  It is more important that you get pleasure out of doing it.

* Never let your urge to do something well become a compulsion to do it perfectly. Just commit yourself to the joy of doing and enjoy the thrill of improving at it.

* Live by the law of reasonable expectations rather than by the law of perfection. Not only is perfection stressful, it's also boring.  Imperfection evokes humour and laughter while perfection evokes stress, frustration and anger.  One promotes health and well being; the other, anxiety and dis-ease.

* Learn to laugh at yourself and your imperfections.  If you don't, you leave the job to someone else.

* Human beings, by nature, are imperfect, so relax and enjoy the fact.


Mike Moore is an international speaker and writer on human achievement and humor therapy. You can access his site at http://www.motivationalplus.com

  
   


 
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